The Good Garden by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault

The author of One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference continues to explore the impact of education and funding on poor communities.  Here, she has written a book about a farming family in Honduras who learn techniques that allow them to grow enough food to feed themselves and earn enough money to secure a positive future for the family.  Maria Luz and her family have run out of food so her father must head out of town to find enough work to pay for the seed to plant next year because they will have to consume what they would have saved.  He leaves Maria Luz in charge of the garden while he is gone.  At school, she learns about compost, terrace gardening, and other ways to keep the soil fertile.  When her father returns, he is surprised by her success.  He and Maria Luz work with her teacher to avoid selling their produce to the local coyote and instead sell it themselves at a market and purchase seeds themselves.  Through one man’s efforts to educate, an entire village is transformed.

The author here has taken her subject very seriously, as is appropriate.  The text is lengthy for a picture book, but helps explain the impact of food insecurity around the world.  While this is not a picture book to add to a story time, it will be of value for elementary children who are learning about the world, gardening and food.  It is a book that teaches and informs.  Smith Milway’s text does not shy away from the control of the coyote, the fear of starvation, or the loss of families who leave to live elsewhere.  Her words convey it all with a seriousness and gentleness that is lovely to read.

Daigneault’s illustrations seem to glow with an inner sun.  Her use of colors is dynamic at times and subtle at others.  In all of her pictures, there are flowing lines that help depict the beauty of the Honduran landscape.  The illustrations help bring the text to life, making the book even more appealing.

An important book for children to better understand the world they live in, this book is informative and radiant.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Kids Can Press.

You can visit The Good Garden website at: http://www.thegoodgarden.org/ where you can learn, play or help make a difference.

And check out the book trailer:

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