“A beautifully told, wonderfully illustrated, and utterly charming tale of community and problem solving!”
Grace lives next door to Larry, an elderly teacher with a beautiful garden filled with unusual vegetables. She spends all her spare time there as they solve problems together (“We can figure this out”), from planting marigolds among the carrots to deter bugs (a tip Grace discovers on a trip to the library!) to building chicken wire cages around the tomatoes to keep out the squirrels. As a teacher, Larry helps his students form community ties by nurturing their own tomato plants and then gifting them to someone with a note explaining the gift. When a fellow neighbor builds a wall that blocks the sunlight (“The plants looked wilted. So did Larry.”), Grace draws inspiration from Larry and mediates the situation with seeds, a note, and some kindness in a way that brings the story full circle. Reich’s illustrations are gorgeous and inviting, filled with friendly-looking characters, uniquely stylized plants, and beautiful colors. Together with Alary’s text, they create a sense of growth and community that encircles readers with a feeling of empowerment and a desire to make the world a better place (and maybe even plant a garden!). Problem solving, conflict resolution, friendship, and creating community are all on display in this authentic story.
Grace thinks Larry’s garden is one of the wonders of the world. In his tiny backyard next door to hers, Larry grows the most extraordinary vegetables. Grace loves helping him - watering and weeding, planting and pruning, hoeing and harvesting. And whenever there’s a problem - like bugs burrowing into the carrots or slugs chewing the lettuce - Grace and Larry solve it together. Grace soon learns that Larry has big plans for the vegetables in his special garden. And when that garden faces its biggest problem yet, Grace follows Larry’s example to find the perfect solution.
Inspired by a real person, author Laura Alary has written a heartwarming story about how amazing things can grow when you tend your garden with kindness. In this case, Larry, a teacher, is helping to grow community. He has his students grow tomato plants that they then give away to their neighbors with personal notes. It offers a powerful lesson on the influence of generosity, while encouraging young children to become community activists in their own neighborhoods. This uplifting story fosters an appreciation for neighborhood and community at a time when that sentiment seems to be eroding. The book also contains an environmental message about harvesting your own vegetables and, with Kass Reich’s colorful illustrations, works beautifully for a life science exploration of growth and changes in plants. There are character education connections to caring, cooperation, empathy, kindness, perseverance and teamwork.
This book gave me all the warm fuzzies! A beautiful story about gardening, community, and the power of simple acts of kindness
Laura has loved books since she was barely big enough to clamber up the steps to the Bookmobile that rolled into her Halifax neighbourhood once a week.
At school, she made her own books out of manila paper, mucilage, and crayons. The first story she can remember writing was about a little girl who kept spilling paint and having to figure out how to turn the messes into pictures (a good rule for life).
These days Laura considers herself very lucky to work in a beautiful library and write her own books. They look more professional than the home-made ones, but the joy of creating them is much the same.
Laura also loves to sing, play guitar (a work in progress), and try to keep up with what her three children are reading.
She makes her home in Toronto where, along with clover and a whole lot of dandelions, she does her best to grow kindness.
Kass Reich was born in Montreal Canada. She works as an artist and educator and has spent a majority of the last decade traveling and living abroad. Kass graduated with a degree in Art Education from Concordia University then picked up and moved to Beijing where she worked as an early childhood educator for nearly three years. Working with the little ones inspired her to start making picture books for very young learners. After Beijing she lived in Hong Kong, London England and Melbourne Australia. She now finds herself back in Canada but this time in Toronto.