cover image Uncle John’s City Garden

Uncle John’s City Garden

Bernette G. Ford, illus. by Frank Morrison. Holiday House, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4786-2

Three Black siblings assist Uncle John, “a great big man,” with a veggie patch in this warm intergenerational portrait. Narrated from the perspective of youngest sibling Li’l Sissy, the book is based on the late Ford’s own uncle, who, per an author’s note, cultivated a similar plot in 1950s Canarsie, Brooklyn. With personal-feeling prose that centers themes of relative size and growth through life’s seasons, Li’l Sissy describes how, under Uncle John’s tutelage, she and her brother and sister plant corn, lima beans, tomatoes, onions, and okra—the ingredients for succotash, a family favorite—in a city housing development’s garden and spend the summer watching it grow until a season’s-end barbecue. Emphasizing the quartet’s kinship and pride in their work, Morrison’s distinguished oil and spray-paint art also juxtaposes expansive planes to portray the sizable horizontal garden plot amid the community’s vertical buildings. Aptly partnered, the creators present a moving picture of how food can bind people and communities. Back matter includes an author’s note and succotash recipe. Ages 4–8. (May)