by Sarah Stewart and David Small
38 pages / 1997
Lydia Grace Finch’s family has fallen on hard times. So their little girl is being sent off to the big city to live with her baker uncle Jim to help him around the shop.
The story is told via Lydia’s short letters home, where she updates the family on her efforts at making her somber uncle smile. She’s also, as the title indicates, quite the gardener, an interest she shares with her grandma back home. One of the care packages from her grandma even contains little plants that amazingly survive the postal trip.
Though she’s living in her uncle’s apartment, Lydia fills everything she can with plants, and finds room on the roof to create her own secret garden. Will all her flowery beauty manage to prompt a smile from her uncle?
This is a sweet story, and the art fills every corner of every page. Two thumbs way up!
If you liked this, you’ll also enjoy three others by David Small.
One Cool Friend is about a boy, Elliot, and his father visiting the aquarium. When the boy spots a penguin exhibit, he asks his dear old dad for one. Dad thinks he means a stuffed one, and says yes. But Elliot did not. The confusion continues as Elliot takes a smallish one home in his backpack and turns his room into an antarctic setting. Fun throughout, with a twist at the end just for parents (as I don’t know that kids will catch this last joke).
In Imogene’s Antlers, a girl is surprised to wake up one morning with a set of antlers on her head. It doesn’t phase her, though, and she runs with it, using them to dry laundry and hang donuts. It’s her optimistic outlook that makes this such fun. In the sequel, Imogene Comes Back, her antlers are gone, but now she has a giraffe neck, and the next day an elephant nose… and she’s still as upbeat as ever!