“In this beautifully illustrated beginning chapter book, Victoria Allenby has introduced a lovely menagerie of animal friends, a timeless theme of the trials of friendships, and a whimsical and heartfelt text.
When Timo hears about the upcoming Toadstool Corners’ Great, Green Garden Tour, he is both excited to enter the fun contest, and concerned about the timeline. He has but one week to turn his garden from merely nice to great. Timo commits so wholeheartedly to the project that he begins to neglect his many friends, even missing his weekly tennis game with his pal Suki. In spite of this, however, when disaster strikes Timo’s nearly finished garden, his friends all pitch in to help save the day. Timo learns a valuable lesson, without the inclusion of tired moralizing, and makes sure to show all of his friends how wonderful he thinks they are.
The format of the book does an excellent job of holding interest. It incorporates lists on illustrated notebook pages, colourful half-page drawings on most pages—often across spreads—and an illustrated glossary of flowers at the end.
The text is simple enough for beginning readers for the most part, but does incorporate just the right amount of more challenging words to hone sounding-out skills. In addition, the use of some consistent rhyming text, alliteration, and onomatopoeia, adds whimsy and a lyrical tone to the story, a rarity among chapter books.