From the best-selling author of One Hen comes the inspiring story of one struggling farming family in Honduras and their journey to growing enough food to meet their needs. Based on the real story of farm transformation underway in Honduras and many other countries, this book offers children ways they can be part of the movement to grow "good gardens" and foster food security. Eleven-year-old Mar?a Luz and her family live on a small farm. This year their crop is poor, and they may not have enough to eat or to ...
From the best-selling author of One Hen comes the inspiring story of one struggling farming family in Honduras and their journey to growing enough food to meet their needs. Based on the real story of farm transformation underway in Honduras and many other countries, this book offers children ways they can be part of the movement to grow "good gardens" and foster food security. Eleven-year-old Mar?a Luz and her family live on a small farm. This year their crop is poor, and they may not have enough to eat or to sell for other essentials, such as health care, school uniforms and books. When Mar?a's father must leave home to find work, she is left in charge of their garden. Then a new teacher comes to Mar?a's school and introduces her to sustainable farming practices that yield good crops. As Mar?a begins to use the same methods at home, she too sees improvements, which allow her family to edge their way out of the grip of the greedy "coyotes" -- the middlemen who make profits on the backs of poor farmers. Little by little, the farms -- and the hopes -- of Mar?a and her neighbors are transformed as good gardens begin to grow.
Part of the CitizenKid line of books, this inspiring story uses the example of a Honduran family to explain the global plight of farmers who aren't able to feed and support themselves despite their labors. With their land past its prime and at the mercy of a predatory grain buyer (portrayed as a well-dressed coyote), María Luz Duarte and her parents fear they will lose their farm. A new teacher, however, explains how composting and terrace farming can help, eventually allowing the family to circumvent the middleman and thrive. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
- Meredith Kiger
Written by an experienced author and more importantly, one also experienced in community organizing in Latin America, the story illuminates the struggles of a poor family in Honduras as they try to make a living from the soil. Maria Luz has always helped her father in the family garden but now, the soil is worn out and no longer produces the food they need to survive. Her father must leave the family to find additional work in the city. At Maria's school, a new teacher, Don Pedro, teaches the children new ways of composting and gardening to enrich the soil. Maria and other families become interested in his new methods, trying them out at their homes. Don Pedro teaches them how to keep part of their crops to sell in the market, avoiding the coyote, the middleman who takes advantage of everyone. Maria's father returns and rejoices in the new methods of farming. The methods spread across the land enabling poor families beyond the villages to provide for their families. The story is a romanticized version of a real family. It is an introduction for students to Latin culture with glorious illustrations that mask the real poverty experienced by Maria and other families. Spanish words used in the text are defined at the end of the book which also includes a discussion, accompanied by photos, of world hunger and how readers can help. The book is one in a series that focus on inspiring children to become better world citizens. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—When María Luz's Papa makes the tough decision to leave their hillside home in Honduras to seek employment elsewhere, he puts the girl in charge of planting and tending their winter garden. The land has taken a beating, rain has been scarce, and invading insects have taken more than their share of the meager crops. It is a big responsibility for María, but fortunately for her and her family, a new teacher has arrived at her school with fresh ideas for how to feed and restore the soil. As María applies new techniques such as terracing, composting, and companion planting, she also learns that they need not rely on the unscrupulous "coyotes" who have historically acted as loan sharks and middlemen, denying the villagers any kind of profit and independence that would help them get ahead. Taken at a literal level, this is a story of how sustainable farming practices can nourish families and the earth simultaneously. On a deeper level, it is about social justice and self-sustaining economies, which make this a book that can span a broader interest level. The stylized colored-pencil artwork is appropriately lush and idealized. The "coyotes" are literally depicted as men with animal heads. The book concludes with information about the real families and teacher behind this story, as well as resources and suggestions for getting involved in gardening or supporting worldwide food security.—Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID
When the exhausted soil of their family plot doesn't yield enough and her father leaves to find work, María Luz plants the winter vegetables using new farming techniques she learns from her teacher, Don Pedro. Marigolds repel insect pests. Terracing and using compost and nutrient-fixing crops improve the soil so much that their garden can sustain her family again. This encouraging story by the author of One Hen (illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, 2008) honors the work of Honduran farmer-trainer Elías Sanchez. Full-bleed illustrations, curving lines done with colored pencil on colored paper, extend across the gutters to show María Luz, her family and neighbors at work, the threatening coyote who wants to sell their produce and take his cut and the busy market where they sell cash crops and buy seed on their own. The sun waves long arms and beams at the improvement in their lives. Though the text is not simple, the appealing design will support less able readers. Endnotes add information about food security around the world and include a glossary of Spanish words. (Picture book. 7-10)
Katie Smith Milway, a native of Vancouver, B.C., has coordinated community development programs in Africa and Latin America for Food for the Hungry; consulted on village banking in Senegal with World Vision and was a delegate to the 1992 Earth Summit. She has written books and articles on sustainable development and is currently a partner at nonprofit consultancy The Bridgespan Group, based in Boston, Massachusetts.
Sylvie Daigneault has illustrated for clients ranging from the Royal Canadian Mint to the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York, as well as many magazines. She is the illustrator of The Good Garden. Sylvie lives in Toronto, Ontario.