My Baba’s Garden

My Baba's Garden cover
My Baba’s Garden by Jordan Scott. Illustrated by Sydney Smith

by Jordan Scott
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Neal Porter Books / Holiday House, 2023
32 pages

Ages 4-8

Each day before school a young boy rides with his dad “past mountains that look like whale bellies” to his Baba’s. He finds his grandmother in the kitchen, “hidden in the steam of boiling potatoes, dancing between the sink, fridge, and stove.” He knows his Baba, who doesn’t speak English well, lived through a time when she didn’t have much food; now she stores it everywhere, and the boy eats all of the breakfast she sets before him: oatmeal, and pickles, cabbages and beets that come from her garden. If he spills, she picks up the food and kisses it before returning it to his bowl. When she walks him to school she always looks for worms, picking them up and putting them in a dirt-filled jar. Later, she will place them in her garden; when the boy asks why, she wriggles her fingers in his hand. He understands the worms help the soil; he understands her love. When Baba eventually moves in with his family, the boy brings her oatmeal and a cut apple every morning, kissing a slice before handing it to her. She grows sun-gold tomatoes in a pot. In the rain, he looks for worms. A story based on the author’s childhood memories of his Polish immigrant grandmother is distinguished by writing full of vivid imagery and tenderness, accompanied by gorgeous watercolor and gouache illustrations that are richly hued, earthy, and lush.  ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center