The Gardener by Sarah Stewart and David Small is a picture book that holds several awards, including a Caldecott Honor. It is the Depression-era story of a young girl by the name of Lydia Grace who has to go live in the city with her uncle until her father finds a new job. Told in a series of letters that Lydia Grace writes to various members of her family, we learn about her love of plants and her plan to make her uncle smile. Her presence brightens the lives of folks who live near her uncle’s bakery, as she fills every space that she can with plants. This earns her the nickname, “The Gardener.” The pictures that David Small provides are very well realized and period appropriate. They support the storyline perfectly, and are at least half the fun of this book. The Gardener is a cute story that my Grandpa Leon would have wholeheartedly approved of. He could make anything grow, you see.
One small warning: this book will make you want to go work in your garden. Now, where to start my compost heap?