Emily Green's garden by Penny Harrison

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Ill. by Megan Forward. New Frontier Publishing, 2019. ISBN 9781925594249.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Gardens. City life. Neighbours. Emily Green lives in a perfectly neat and tidy home, where her parents scrub and polish, dust and clean. Everyone joins in cleaning the house from top to toe, not a speck out of place. But one day Emily spies a green shoot in the pavement outside and this sparks an idea within her. She collects books from the library, reading up on plants. She carefully lifts the little seedling from the pavement and puts it into a pot and takes it indoors to her perfectly neat house. Her parents are delighted, and she sews more seeds and plants in the back garden, as well as tending to the pot plants inside.
But it becomes messy, there are plants all over the place and dirt on the floor, the neighbours complain about the worms and insects they find in their homes. Emily's parents decide that the plants must go, but in looking out of the window, Emily has an idea.
A gentle story of life in the inner city, where people are so obsessed with work and the cleanliness of their homes that they forget about neighbourliness and plant life. Emily helps bring the neighbours together in this charming tale of getting your hands dirty.
The watercolour illustrations reveal a cheeky young girl going along with her parents' conformity until she discovers a little of the outside world in a small shoot finding its way through the pavement. As the story progresses she loses her neat frock and tidy hair, becoming a messy individual with overalls, and boots and wild hair, holding gardening equipment and surrounded by plants. I love the contrasting views of Emily's street at the beginning and end of the book, inviting kids to comment and look at ways of greening their communities wherever they are.
Fran Knight