November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

The Year of the Garden by Andrea Cheng | SLJ Review

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redstarCHENG, Andrea. The Year of the Garden. illus. by Patrice Barton. 128p. HMH. Apr. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780544664449.

Gr 2-5 –In this satisfying prequel to The Year of the Book, Anna and her family have moved from an apartment to a house, meaning she will begin third grade at a new school. Before long, she meets Laura, also new to the neighborhood and eager to make new friends. The seeds of their tumultuous friendship are sown as they work together on a vegetable garden in Anna’s backyard, inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Readers will greatly enjoy seeing familiar characters appear in this book. Anna’s mother is still working to improve her English, and family friend Mrs. Shepherd (deceased at the beginning of The Year of the Book) gives Anna seeds, tools, and advice for working in the garden. From a class lesson on recycling to the rescue of an orphaned rabbit, themes of renewal and “the circle of life” are woven throughout. Barton’s wispy illustrations, as always, echo Anna’s sensitive nature and understanding of the world around her. VERDICT Appealing both to transitional and fluent readers, this thoughtful prequel offers further insights into Anna’s world for those returning to it, while creating a compelling story for those just discovering it.–Katherine Barr, Cameron Village Regional Library, Raleigh, NC

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2017 issue.

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