Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden

Andrew Larsen
Anne Villeneuve

Vincent is staying with his aunt Mimi for the summer while his mom recuperates from surgery. Mimi's drab city neighborhood, complete with an empty dirt lot across the street, doesn't seem too promising. But then Vincent meets Toma, a boy who lives nearby, and things start looking up. Mimi has a mysterious box of “dirt balls” in her apartment. When she asks Vincent to get rid of them, the fun Vincent and Toma have throwing them into the lot becomes the start of a budding friendship. Then one day, they notice new shoots sprouting all over the lot. Maybe those balls weren't just made of dirt after all!

Bestselling author Andrew Larsen brings a light touch and gentle humor to this picture book story about several kinds of growth --- of the boys and their friendship, the flowers in the newly thriving lot, and the community that comes together around it. Award-winning artist Anne Villeneuve's illustrations add a visual layer to the storytelling as they show the transformation from mostly gray to vibrant color, both literally, in the blossoming garden, and figuratively, in the now engaged neighborhood. This book highlights the value of connecting to nature, even in urban areas, and the sense of community that comes from civic engagement. It's an excellent choice for character education lessons on kindness, generosity and citizenship.

978-1-77138-917-4 | May 7, 2019
List Price: USD $16.99, CAD $18.99
4-color 9 x 9 32 pages
Grades: PreSchool To 2 / Ages: 3 to 7
978-1-5253-0285-5 | May 7, 2019
List Price: USD $9.99, CAD $9.99

Educational Resources

Awards & Reviews

“A sweet story that celebrates community coming together to create something wonderful.”
— Kirkus Reviews, March 2019
“... a heartwarming story of serendipity and connection, both among people and with the environment.”
— Booklist, Starred Review, May 2019
“A lovely addition to libraries and classrooms, especially those looking for multicultural characters and insightful books about friendship.”
— School Library Journal, May 2019
“... a wonderfully well-executed story of friendship, community, and the importance of nature and its potential as a source for inspiration, healing, and bringing people together.”
— CM Magazine, June 2019
“This wonderfully written book will entertain young readers or listeners in a read-aloud.”
— School Library Connection, July 2019
“... magical ...”
— The Globe and Mail, August 2019
“... a captivating story involving friendship and the positive outcome a community garden can have on activating civic engagement and a culture of caring.”
— Canadian Children's Book News, October 2019
2020 - Blue Spruce Award, Ontario Library Association, Short-listed
2020 - Green Earth Book Award, The Nature Generation, Long-listed
2020 - Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picturebook of the Year Award, Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable, Honour Book
2019 - The Globe 100: Books that shaped 2019, The Globe and Mail, Listed
2019 - Best Books for Kids & Teens, Starred Selection, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

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