The Good Garden

How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough
32p. 978-1-55453-488-3.
Gr 3—5—When María Luz's Papa makes the tough decision to leave their hillside home in Honduras to seek employment elsewhere, he puts the girl in charge of planting and tending their winter garden. The land has taken a beating, rain has been scarce, and invading insects have taken more than their share of the meager crops. It is a big responsibility for María, but fortunately for her and her family, a new teacher has arrived at her school with fresh ideas for how to feed and restore the soil. As María applies new techniques such as terracing, composting, and companion planting, she also learns that they need not rely on the unscrupulous "coyotes" who have historically acted as loan sharks and middlemen, denying the villagers any kind of profit and independence that would help them get ahead. Taken at a literal level, this is a story of how sustainable farming practices can nourish families and the earth simultaneously. On a deeper level, it is about social justice and self-sustaining economies, which make this a book that can span a broader interest level. The stylized colored-pencil artwork is appropriately lush and idealized. The "coyotes" are literally depicted as men with animal heads. The book concludes with information about the real families and teacher behind this story, as well as resources and suggestions for getting involved in gardening or supporting worldwide food security.—Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID
In Honduras, when María Luz's father goes in search of work, he leaves her in charge of the floundering family farm. A new teacher gets María Luz to try some techniques that revive the garden, which in turn inspires other villagers. The well-meaning text is wordy. Each spread contains a full-page colored-pencil illustration, sometimes with surreal elements. Glos.

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