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The Garden

Review
By Kirkus Reviews

Diverse children work in a community garden. In Hooks' story, Lily, a brown-skinned girl with brown curls, says she misses her old suburban home's garden, and her mother, whose appearance is similar, suggests that she help in the urban community garden near their new home. The ensuing story employs a controlled text and is broken up into short chapters that provide structure and will support feelings of accomplishment in emergent readers. Mr. Sam, who oversees the garden and appears Asian, welcomes her and encourages her to invite friends to help, too. Readers of previous books will recognize familiar names and faces: Henry, Mei, Pablo, and Padma, who are cued in the text or in Ng-Benitez's appealing watercolor and digital illustrations as white, Asian, Latinx, and South Asian, respectively. Henry and Padma are initially reluctant, while Mei and Pablo are eager, but all agree to try. Mr. Sam shows them how to plant and care for seeds, and Padma is disappointed that it'll take "months" for plants to grow. This makes Lily worry that her friends aren't having fun, but, satisfyingly, they persist and are rewarded with literal fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. The visible enthusiasm of the tiny songbirds (underscored by their dialogue: little musical notes followed by exclamation marks) who watch the plants sprout adds sweet humor. A warmly inclusive book for growing new readers.

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