cover image We Are a Garden: A Story of How Diversity Took Root in America

We Are a Garden: A Story of How Diversity Took Root in America

Lisa Westberg Peters, illus. by Victoria Tentler-Krylov. Random House/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-12313-3

Overly glossy metaphor undermines this narrative nonfiction explanation of how the U.S. became culturally and racially diverse. Peters employs a metaphor of wind, chronologically tracing human migration to the North American continent, from First Nations peoples (“Long ago a strong wind blew. It blew people, like seeds, to a new land”) to contemporary immigrants (“The wind blows in a thirteen-year-old refugee who adjusts her head scarf... and declares she will be a doctor someday”). Tentler-Krylov contributes sweeping, vintage-inspired watercolors, though scenes aboard slave ships and portrayals of Chinese railroad workers feel racially insensitive, portraying stereotyped features. In this uneven effort, the metaphor elides historical context, lending an equivalent lens to voluntary emigration and forced migration: “it blew in a sailing ship carrying boys and men who hoped to find their fortune” is followed by “the wind blew in slave ship after slave ship” and “it blew in ships carrying families who were weary of hunger.” Back matter includes a glossary, an author’s note clarifying the groups portrayed, and a select bibliography. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)