Miguel’s Community Garden by JaNay Brown-Wood & Samara Hardy

This smart, sweet book had all my kids crowding around to learn and argue about plants, fruits and vegetables! It definitely brightened up our dreary winter day, and I’m hoping it’ll help nurture a seed of interest in gardening come the spring!

Miguel’s Community Garden tells the tale of our eponymous young hero, who heads to his community garden to find some sunflowers to decorate the Community Garden Party. He knows what makes up a sunflower, but will he be able to identify them for the party? Or will he be sidetracked by all the other plants that share the sunflower’s characteristics but aren’t quite what he needs?

Perfect for beginning+ readers, this picture book uses valuable repetition to help strengthen existing vocabulary while also introducing yummy, and perhaps exotic, fruits and vegetables into their lexicons. My youngest child definitely gained a lot of practice with words that are just the right amount of challenge for him here, repeating the ones he knows and is still mastering while also learning useful new words and, I’m hoping, broadening his interest in plant life and gardening. My older kids actually ran over for the mulberry page to argue about grapes and berries: we’ve since agreed to make a special trip to the one mulberry tree we know when it fruits in the summer to find out more.

Samara Hardy’s illustrations are a delight. Whether it be the casually diverse representation of characters or the gorgeously painted wildlife, every page is a feast for the eyes, bursting with life and color! The vegetables are especially mouthwatering and lush, which is not a compliment one can hazard at most children’s picture books (or most vegetables, if we’re being quite honest.) And those endpapers are absolutely swoon-worthy, bright and vivid and deserving of being put up on walls.

JaNay Brown-Wood includes a yummy salad recipe at the end of this really terrific children’s book that should pique the interest of young and beginning readers in the many varieties of fresh produce that might be available to grow in their own community gardens. I must say that I’m even more excited than before to plant my own sunflowers once the weather warms! Hopefully, the kids will be just as enthusiastic when the time comes, too, and in no small part due to this charming book.

Miguel’s Community Garden by JaNay Brown-Wood & Samara Hardy was published yesterday March 1 2022 by Peachtree Publishing and is available from all good booksellers, including

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