“Grow: A Novel in Verse”

Growby Juanita Havill is a quick read about a community garden in an urban setting suitable for upper elementary/lower middle school-age students. 12 year-old Kate, who has a low self-image, teams up with adult Berneetha, a large, loud woman who decides to start a garden in an ugly vacant lot. People in the neighborhood seem suspicious of their good intentions and frown upon the ‘do-gooders’ as they start to clean up the land to prepare it.  Harlan, a “gangster-like” young teen pitches in and reveals more to his personality than meets the eye. Slowly, other residents of the neighborhood notice the positive changes and begin to offer help and contributions. A good book to be paired with Paul Fleischman’s ‘Seedfolk.” With only 159 pages, Havill manages to create an incongruous collection of characters who join together and plant hope in an unlikely plot.

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