“Seamlessly marrying truth and imagination, this charming story reminds readers of the importance of one person’s care and the power of community.”
A nameless little girl living in the heart of the city and accompanied by her faithful stuffed panda bear finds beauty where others hurry by. She nurtures a seedling, first in a tin can, and then outside, until she has to “leave for a while.” She leaves in charge the only person she can trust to lovingly care for the garden: her bear, but not before filling him with “snuggles and cuddles.” In her absence, the garden blossoms and grows—thanks to the help of her community, who, noticing her garden, begin slowing down and stepping in to create a space to grow, play, and love. The impact of the story is magnified by the inclusion of a short Author’s Note informing readers that The Bear’s Garden is inspired by actual events, including an abandoned teddy bear that helped inspire a community garden. The descriptive text is full of imagery (“the girl’s imagination spilled onto the sidewalk, rolled across the street, and sprouted”) and a soft-touch of humor (“She thought maybe she could whisper ‘I believe in you’ from far away, but she didn’t have enough string”) that weave together to create a heartfelt story. All throughout—and even in the endpapers—the illustrations add layers of meaning and understanding to the story with well-chosen details, from the bear’s slight facial expressions and the little girl’s singular pajama appearance, to the love-inspired, bear-face graffiti location marker.
Inspired by the true story of a community garden in Brooklyn, New York, The Bear’s Garden by Marcie Colleen is a testament to how imagination and dedication can transform communities and create beauty for everyone in unexpected places.
A little girl sees an empty lot in a city and imagines what it can be.
She sees a place to grow, a place to play, and a place to love.
With the help of her stuffed bear, the girl brings her community together to create a beautiful garden.
An Imprint Book
If we hurry too fast sometimes we miss little bits of beauty around us. Take a minute to slow down. Do you see anything you didn’t notice before?
The little girl starts the garden but isn’t able to make it happen all on her own because she has to leave. We don’t have to do things all alone either. Is there something you could use a little help accomplishing? Is there something you could help someone else with?
The little girl starts her garden in a tin can. Have you ever grown something from a seed before? With an adult’s help, give it a try!
Marcie Colleen is a former classroom teacher turned children’s book author. She is the author of THE SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS chapter book series with Macmillan/Imprint, as well her debut picture book, Love, Triangle, illustrated by Bob Shea (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins), and Penguinaut!, illustrated by Emma Yarlett.
Marcie is an expert on creating highly acclaimed Teacher’s Guides that align picture books and middle grade novels with the Common Core and state mandated standards. She is the Education Consultant for Picture Book Month and the Curriculum Developer for Time Traveler Tours & Tales. She is a frequent presenter at conferences for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as a faculty member for Kidlit Writing School, San Diego Writer’s Ink, and the University of California San Diego Extension. Her educational work in children’s literature has been recognized by School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Children’s Book Council.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Education of English and Language Arts from Oswego State University and a master’s degree in Educational Theater from New York University.
Although she will always be a Brooklynite at heart, Marcie lives in San Diego, California with her husband—artist Jonathan Lopes—and their mischievous sock monkey.
Posies of gratitude to Susan
“This tale of urban renewal shows how one person with an imagination, a little dirt, and a few seeds can transform a concrete village into something beautiful.” (starred review)