Gardening and friendship have a long history of going together and Jenny Meyerhoff’s book, The Friendship Garden: Thumbs Up, adds another dimension to the relationship. Written for children in grades two to four, the book relates the story of a young girl who starts a garden club so she can enjoy the benefits of plants while making new friends. This is the first book in a four book series and introduces the main characters, sets the scene, and provides the background.
When Anna’s family moves to Chicago and she had to start third grade in a new school she misses her garden and friends. A school assignment throws her together with two classmates to write a persuasive speech and this leads the threesome to form a garden club, locate a suitable garden plot, and find an adult sponsor. By good luck they find an abandon plot in a community garden that resembles a plant junkyard more than a garden and they persuade classmates to join their club and the teacher to be sponsor. Anna finds contentment in her new garden, friendships, and role in her school.
This is a charming story with likable main characters that create something special. Portrayed in a realistic way, these characters have their flaws and their problems but come together to have a garden and even bring other classmates and the teacher into their experience. Full page black and white drawings help the reader visualize the characters and their frustrations and successes.
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