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Nature Books for Kids

The Curious Garden By Peter Brown
Little, Brown, and Company, 40 pages, $16.99 (Ages 3–6)

Where others see an abandoned elevated railroad, a hazel-eyed, redheaded boy named Liam notices an opportunity to reintroduce nature to his dreary city in The Curious Garden. Author Peter Brown drew inspiration from New York City’s High Line Park, an elevated green space atop an old section of railroad. Venturing out on a drizzly day, the optimistic Liam spies a hidden stairwell leading to the track and investigates, surprised to find several plants struggling to survive. Recognizing that they’ll die without assistance, he becomes an impromptu gardener, using various methods including pruning, watering, and even singing to encourage growth. The garden responds to Liam’s unflagging efforts: It not only rebounds but, as if exploring, expands into every nook and cranny available on the old railway and eventually the city below, where it’s “especially curious about old, forgotten things” such as a rusted pickup. Brown’s vibrant, whimsical acrylic and gouache illustrations depict the town’s metamorphosis as leafy tendrils and buds embrace the once-colorless buildings. Other city dwellers, inspired by the young carrottop, plant their own gardens. Wading into a sea of lush white flowers against a robin’s-egg-blue sky, Liam admires his handiwork with outstretched arms, a refreshing reminder to kids of the adage that one person really can make a difference.—Julie Leibach
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