Title: In Our Garden
Author: Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrator: Melissa Crowton
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, March 2022
Themes: homesickness, urban gardens, school, community, vegetables, growth, patience
It’s a day. It’s a gray day. A breakfast-can-wait-day, don’t-be-late day. I look out my window and see concrete. Steps and stoops. Sidewalks and streets. Everything is hard. And dull. Not like where I used to live. Most days, I feel grey too. Homesick, my mom says.
Millie has recently moved to a new city, from a place more than an ocean away. More than anything she misses the garden where her family used to grow food. Then one day she has an idea—the school has a fine flat roof, perfect for a garden. Soon her teacher and classmates are on board, but it takes more than ideas to build a garden. It takes supplies and hard work; it takes a lot of learning; and it takes a whole school—a whole community—coming together to help. And of course, it also takes a lot of waiting. But as Millie’s teacher Miss Mirales says, “Be patient. Good things take time.”
From building the beds and planting the seeds to the first glorious harvest, here’s the story of a garden—and a girl—in bloom, and what it takes for a new place to finally feel like home.
Why I like this book:
There is much to love in the picture book, but for me the greatest delight was the language, such lyrical prose and slide-off-the-tongue hyphenated compound words, such as,
Gardens take work. Hard work. Lift-high-and-lug, pull-and-tug work.
or, High-in-the-sky, thought-we’d-try-garden
Look at those internal rhymes. As a librarian, this is the sort of picture book I adore reading aloud. Kids respond so well to this creative use of language.
Then of course, there is the story of community, creativity, and urban gardening. And a classroom that is messy, creative and welcoming. Everyone grows and benefits from this botanical project, not just Millie. The mixed media art has an appealing blend of realism and whimsy. Cheery hues and sketches of veggies, hearts, and smiling faces flesh out the girl’s imaginings.
Awesome mentor text for compound words.
Pair it with Grow by JoAnn Early Macken, which I reviewed last month, for an excellent way to welcome spring.
Even if your school does not have a flat roof or you live in an apartment, growing something edible with kids is always a win. At the very least try some cress! 🙂
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.