Maxine and the Greatest Garden Ever

Dial. Feb. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399186301.
PreS-Gr 2–Maxine, who is white, and her fish Milton are close; he is often the inspiration to her maker creations. “If I can dream it, I can build it,” she always says. Maxine also has a close friend in a boy, Leo, but the two think differently, for he is an artist. The digital illustrations show small detailed and colorful vignettes of Maxine, her family, and friends in full invention mode—Maxine’s braided pigtails and color-streaked bangs surround a face requiring only minimal ink to show her clearly joyous in the effort. Leo’s dark skin and curly hair frame eyes that delight in his projects. Each has a strong personal view and a bit of attitude as they express themselves through their approaches. There are setbacks: Leo’s design is artistically pretty, while Maxine’s is blueprint-detailed and practical. There are pests invading the garden, and the two fight, but they quickly learn that for “it takes a long time to grow a garden, but even longer to grow a friend.” In the end, they have decided to work with nature, rather than against it, by feeding the animals themselves.
VERDICT A suggested general purchase for libraries and classroom, this title allows young readers to view changing relationships through strong-willed characters who learn how to work together.

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