The Good Garden – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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gardenTitle: The Good Garden – How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough

Written by Katie Smith Milway; illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault

Published by: Kids Can Press, 2010

Ages: 7-11

Themes: Honduras, food security, agriculture, global awareness

Opening Lines:

Maria Luz Duarte scrapes the dry, brown earth with her hoe. Her family’s corn is short and scrawny this season.”


Maria Luz and her family are poor farmers who live in the hills of Honduras. Like many struggling farmers around the world, they grow barely enough food to feed themselves; When the family’s food supply runs low, Maria Luz’s father must leave to find work and she is left to tend their garden alone. Then a new teacher comes to town and changes start to happen. The teacher shows Maria Luz how to feed to soil with compost and create terraces that stop the earth from washing away.He shows her how to grow cash crops and even more importantly, how to bypass the predatory middleman, the coyote, and sell her produce directly at the market. And as other villagers see Maria Luz’s “good garden”, they too make changes that begin to transform their lives. New farming methods—and hope—spread through the hillside of Honduras like a healthy vine. (taken from book jacket)

Why I like this book:

This is a lengthy story for older elementary children based on a real family. They face problems very typical of developing nations. Around 75% of the poor are farmers who struggle to grow enough to feed their families, let alone make a surplus for things like health care of education. This book addresses a huge and pressing issue world wide and does not shy from also looking at the exploitation of many middlemen. I love how “the coyote” in this story is illustrated in his animal form! The story us upbeat and hopeful and shows how Hondurans implementing their own solutions. The text has a smattering of Spanish words for authenticity.

It is almost set out as a chapter book, with a longish text on one page and its corresponding illustration on the facing page. The Good Garden introduces children to a real global issue and then at the back, provides the readers with tools and information to help each child make a difference, both locally and globally. This book is a warm and optimistic read, following the challenges of a family the reader will care about. It is packed with information to help develop practical global awareness in our young children.


Visit the interactive website that is associated with the book:

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources and activites, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.




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19 Responses to The Good Garden – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. What an interesting story, Joanna. It’s amazing how a task once learnt can help others. Love that it is based on a real family dealing with these problems and with its smattering of Spanish makes it a must read for me. Thanks, Joanna.

  2. I really love the premise of it! I’ve read similar success stories but in places like Green America’s magazine and not in a children’s book, so am delighted that someone has written this. (And I will keep my Monsanto rant to myself today…LOL!) Thank you for sharing this, Joanna!

  3. Heather Dent says:

    The illustrations look gorgeous! And the story sounds wonderful. I am not a gardner, but I wish I was. Maybe this book will give me the inspiration I need to get my hands in the dirt.

  4. As one who tries to garden, I have admiration for the farmers in the world who provide sustenance to themselves with enough left over for us. This looks like a very interesting book.

  5. I just heard about this book the other day and was thinking I need to read it. Thanks for sharing it… as a gardener, I really appreciate stories about people who grow food.

  6. I have been searching for a book like this. I am so happy you shared this true story today. Teaching people how to farm and take care of themselves in theird world countries is so important. It gives them a lot of self-respect. I really liked that they shared the knowledge in the community so they weren’t taken by the “coyotes” of the word. Very nice choice Joanna.

  7. Cathy Mealey says:

    The website that you included,, is wonderful!

    Great PPBF choice.

  8. Joanna says:

    Isn’t it great, Cathy!

  9. I think I would love this book. The message/story is very good.

  10. How funny I should read this when I’m reading The Noble Groom about farming too. Sounds great!

  11. I like the idea of it almost being a chapter book, and am interested in how it is illustrated, but my first thought when I saw the title was that all gardens are good! On my list. Thanks.

  12. They say if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he will eat for his whole life. This story points up the same idea…I love a book that shows how people can be empowered with knowledge. Great review, Joanna…thanks so much!

  13. Rhythm says:

    That cover really grabbed me! It looks so hopeful! I think everyone needs to learn about farming and where your food comes from. This sounds like a great book! Thanks for sharing!

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