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Gardening with Emma: Grow and 
Have Fun

by Emma Biggs and Steven Biggs; Rob Hodgson (ill.)

Emma Biggs acquired her green thumb as a preschooler, watering plants and making mud stew in her dad’s Toronto garden. (Her dad is plant aficionado Steven Biggs, author of Grow Gardeners: Kid-Tested Gardening with Children). Now 13, Biggs has written her own gardening book, a “kid-to-kid guide” in which she takes a different approach to sowing and cultivating than her elders. “Mostly,” she says, “it seems grown-ups want their gardens to look good for when other grown-ups come visit!”

Instead of tidy rows and “adult” crops (e.g., Brussels sprouts and beans), the junior Biggs favours a disorganized cacophony of carrots, tomatoes, and lettuces in all shapes and sizes, as well as unexpected additions, like Mexican sour gherkins. And the reader quickly gets the sense that her garden is all the better for it.

While adults are known to overthink things when it comes to planting, the young writer goes back to basics: “Our job as gardeners is simple: have fun in the garden while we figure out the best way to help our plants grow.” Thus, there are chapters chock full of advice that will speak to anyone who just wants to play around, get their hands dirty, and maybe find something green shooting out of the earth at the end of it all.

Each lively, charming chapter offers instant kid appeal (including material on how to “grow a pizza” or create “a garden of sounds”) and Biggs’s friendly, conversational tone is complemented by bright photos of kids engaged in wholesome, back-to-nature activities. There’s a playful mix of fun facts (dandelion taproots can grow to six feet long) and practical info (from starting seeds indoors to ways to extend the growing season), all the while subtly giving kids a sense of the importance of knowing where the food they eat comes from.

Biggs’s book is colourful, visually dynamic, and punctuated with playful illustrations by Rob Hodgson. On one page an anthropomorphic pansy offers a definition of biennials, while a grinning earwig is featured on another page dedicated to cool garden bug facts. The author’s approach to gardening through the eyes of a kid means there’s always a little something unexpected, whether it’s growing giant vegetables just for kicks or making a garden you can build a fort in. But at its root, this resource offers sound guidance, giving readers of all ages an opportunity to learn, grow, and have a good time in the garden.