cover image Jayden’s Impossible Garden

Jayden’s Impossible Garden

Mélina Mangal, illus. by Ken Daley. Free Spirit, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-63198-590-4

A creative Black boy named Jayden carves out a natural space for himself with the help of a friend in this compassionate picture book. Jayden loves spending time outside, but his Mama believes “there’s no nature here in the middle of the city.” When Jayden befriends Mr. Curtis, a Black man who uses a wheelchair, the pair cultivate nature in their “magical secret fort garden,” sowing flower seeds in recycled planters around the grassy lot behind their building. Mangal’s emphasis on sensory details makes natural elements feel tangible (Jayden “watched squirrels scrounge for snacks.... He felt fat, furry snowflakes as they fell from the sky and landed on his face”), while Daley’s saturated art spotlights joyful moments. A warm portrayal of an intergenerational friendship that will inspire similar projects. Back matter includes an author’s note, facts about the featured flora and fauna, and instructions for recycled crafts. Ages 4–9. (Mar.)