What Grew in Larry’s Garden

Laura Alary, illus. by Kass Reich. Kids Can, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5253-0108-7
In this gentle narrative celebrating diligence, problem solving, and community, a girl helps nurture her neighbor’s backyard vegetables. Together, Grace and Larry “watered and weeded,” researching and instituting methods to deter insects, gastropods, and squirrels. But the duo faces a different challenge when Larry’s neighbor adds a high fence panel that “makes him feel safe,” enveloping the garden in darkness. Alary’s diction is evocative (“buttery yellow carrots and purple potatoes. Rainbow chard and scarlet runner beans. Rosy tomatoes the color of ripe peaches”), and Reich’s artwork, done in gouache and colored pencils with digital touches, has an expressive richness. Though contemporary context may cast the recurring motif of fences in a specific light, an author’s note drives home the theme of sowing compassion, revealing the real-life inspiration: teacher Larry Zacharko and his tomato project, which helped students “who had troubles both at home and at school” to see the possibility of cultivating personal and communal growth. Ages 4–7. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/30/2020
Release date: 04/07/2020
Genre: Children's
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