Monday, February 19, 2018

City Gardens: Florette by Anna Walker

When Mae's family moved to the city,
Mae wanted to bring her garden with her.

But there was no room
among the crowded buildings
for apple trees and daffodils.

Mae missed her greenery scenery, and she missed the many animals who shared the woods and the rolling fields of daisies and grasses.

The signs said KEEP OFF THE GRASS!

And the only wild animal was a angry-looking stone lion. Mae was lonely for the birds nesting in apple trees and for the cones and nuts she gathered in her treasure jar.

But the buildings are tall and gray, and the paving stones cover the streets and walkways.

Mae tries. She draws a garden in the courtyard with colored chalks--with butterflies, caterpillars, trees, birds, and beetles. But the gray rain soon washes them away. Inside, in Mae's room, with her crayons she turns the still unpacked moving boxes into blooming trees and flowers and sets up a picnic among them. But eventually the boxes must go, and that is the end of her garden.

Mae spies on the neighborhood with her binoculars and spots an empty space with trees and a swing. With her dog, her mother, and the baby in a stroller, Mae leads an expedition to the park. But it is paved with small stones. No grass.

But then Mae sees something--a familiar bird singing in an apple tree.

With her mom and dog trailing behind her, Mae follows the bird to a store seemingly filled with trees and ferns and flowers and vines. She looks wistfully through the big plate glass windows at the garden inside. It is so like her old out-of-doors. But the store is closed.

Still, growing from between the wall and sidewalk, Mae finds a small plant, and she gently takes it home to plant in her treasure jar.

With enough space for a plant to grow.

And little Mae's plant starts a movement, and soon potted plants crowd the windows and the courtyard below her building. Mae has her garden again, in Anna Walker's forthcoming Florette (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2018), and readers can rejoice that Mae has brought spring green to her neighborhood, blooming and putting down her own roots as well. Author and artist Anna Walker shows again that cityscapes can be green and alive, and her courtyard of hanging vines and evergreen endpapers are glowing and vibrant with her watercolored art.

Share this one with Peter A. Reynolds' Rose's Garden or Peter Brown's The Curious Garden.

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