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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
There is something very comforting about a garden. It doesn’t have to be prim and proper, a picture-perfect design of matching rows of colors. The wilder, the better. Mrs. Church has a lovely garden. It’s a bit wild, but well-trimmed and cared for, complete with an orange tree, a plum tree, a cherry tree, roses, irises, orchids and a charming pond with its own giant bullfrog to keep Mrs. Church company. Mrs. Church takes such good care of her garden and is often seen fussing around pruning, trimming and watering. The entire community marvels at Mrs. Church’s charming garden. But one day, Mrs. Church injures herself and she’s no longer able to care for the garden. The result is a wild growth that turns the community away in disgust. But a young girl, JR, takes it upon herself to start pruning the overgrown garden. The community comes together and follows JR’s example, pitching in to help keep the garden well cared for, so, when Mrs. Church returns from the hospital, she can sit on the garden bench and enjoy her garden as it should be.
Author ej Ndeto’s picture book story, Mrs. Church’s Garden, will warm the hearts of readers young and old. Anyone who loves gardening and understands the soothing balm of a well-cared-for garden will understand the gift of love found in Mrs. Church’s garden. The story is well told with compassion. The plot develops with ease and the accompanying illustrations add to the story. The author repeatedly uses the following mantra to emphasize the importance and the passion found in this garden: “Mrs. Church’s garden was a jungle. Everywhere you looked there was something growing. Every time of the year, there was something blooming.” There is a powerful message in this story, not just one about the calming beauty of a garden, but one of the importance and strength of a community coming together and helping each other. Giving, caring, sharing, working together; a well-developed and compassionate story, one to be enjoyed by all ages.