Gwendolyn’s Pet Garden

Penguin/Nancy Paulsen. May 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984815286.
PreS-Gr 3–Although it is Gwendolyn’s dearest wish, her parents refuse to let her have a pet. Not a cockatoo, not a gerbil, not even a shrimp. However, since Gwendolyn is so eager to have something to care for, her parents do give her a wooden box—full of dirt. Gwendolyn’s displeasure doesn’t last once she’s read up on gardening, and after a librarian offers her free seeds from the seed library. Patient and attentive, she names her marigolds, zucchini, and herbs, and observes garden magic. At last she has something of her own to talk to, care for, and watch grow. Gwendolyn’s ebullience and can-do spirit spring from a jaunty text that is well-matched by the mixed-media illustrations. The bendy bodies, surprised hair, and ski-slope-shaped noses of her parents will bring smiles, as will the concentration and glee captured in Gwendolyn’s facial expressions and body language. A final page gives fun suggestions for creating a garden of one’s own (pizza garden, anyone?) and explains how seed libraries work.
VERDICT Die-hard pet lovers may wish for a different outcome but will appreciate how Gwendolyn makes the most of disappointment in this appealing and spirited book.

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