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All That Grows

by Jack Wong

Jack Wong (Credit: Nicola Davison)

All That Grows is a charming picture book, written and illustrated by Jack Wong, about a little brother and big sister who go on neighbourhood walks together, smelling and picking flowers. They also cultivate plants in a garden.

The boy’s big sister is a near encyclopedia of facts about different trees and plant species, and he learns from her about which plants you can eat, about the beauty in the vegetation we see every day, and the perfect time to pick flowers such as daffodils, which are the “flower of Mother’s Day.”

Throughout the book, readers are exposed to plants we seldom read about, such as quince trees and Norway maples. With such a variety of plant life, the brother runs into the problem of categorizing, wondering how his sister knows whether a plant is a vegetable, weed, or both, such as goutweed. Nevertheless, the brother learns not to give up, even when his sister is frustrated by “an especially bad patch [of weeds].” He decides to “keep watering [the patch] to see what grows.”

The reader learns along with the boy about the interconnectedness of nature. For example, “bursting” growth can sometimes mean another plant is stifled with weeds somewhere else. While he can’t always understand the reasons for things, the boy shows patience. Even though his questions seem endless, knowledge, like plants, grows over time, if nurtured.

Wong’s illustrations are tender and dreamlike, capturing the majesty and wonder of the plants all around us – in bloom, as they provide shade from sunlight, or are illuminated by the moon, offering glimpses of the stars beyond them.

In the end, the boy’s persistence pays off when mysterious white flowers bloom among the weed patch he diligently watered. Even his sister is stumped and can’t identify the flowers right away, but the boy isn’t in a hurry to get all the answers to his questions. While neither he nor his sister knows everything about plants, the boy finds his own agency in the garden and decides to get help fetching water, perhaps to see what other surprises may arise.


Reviewer: Fiona Raye Clarke

Publisher: Groundwood Books


Price: $21.99

Page Count: 32 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978-1-77306-812-1

Released: March

Issue Date: March 2024

Categories: Kids’ Books, Picture Books

Age Range: 3–6