Mr. C's Magic Garden
by Maria C. Ciancio
Trafford Publishing

"All in all, Mr. C.'s magic garden was enjoyed by everyone, including birds and animals."

Mr. C. loves to plant his annual spring garden. Tomatoes are his favorite, but he chooses a wide variety of seedlings from the local nursery each year. He clears and turns the soil before planting his seedlings. As gardeners are wont to do, Mr. C. decided to start a compost pile one year to improve the soil further and put his kitchen waste to good use. But this leads to an unintended consequence: "volunteer" plants that Mr. C. didn't plant.

Mr. C. noticed an unusual vine with flat leaves, and he decided to allow it to continue to grow and see what happened. Later on, the vine began to grow a small green ball. Before Halloween, the green ball began to turn orange. Mr. C. was pleased to identify his mystery plant as a pumpkin. As the seasons passed, more volunteer plants sprouted in Mr. C.'s magic garden, including more pumpkins, strawberries, and different varieties of tomatoes.

In such a technology-oriented society, getting back to basics with a home garden offers much-needed relief. This short picture book can help introduce urban kids to the joys of nurturing plants and eating garden-fresh produce. Although the book is well-written, it appears to be abbreviated. It would have benefited from having the large chunk of text on the last page distributed more evenly on additional pages. Perhaps the author might flesh out the discussion of volunteer plants a bit more, by pointing out to the juvenile audience that the plants sprouted from seeds that originated in the compost pile and were then distributed by birds or insects.

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