March/April 2023 Kids Indie Next List
“Every day at Baba’s house, she makes the boy breakfast and walks him to school — the love is there on the page. One day, Baba moves in with the boy and he cares for her in return. A gorgeous ode to love between a grandparent and a grandchild.”
— Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX
The bond between a child and his grandmother grows as they tend her garden together.
A young boy spends his mornings with his beloved Baba, his grandmother. She doesn't speak much English, but they connect through gestures, gardening, eating, and walking to school together. Marked by memories of wartime scarcity, Baba cherishes food, and the boy learns to do the same. Eventually, Baba needs to move in with the boy and his parents, and he has the chance to care for her as she’s always cared for him.
Inspired by memories from poet Jordan Scott’s childhood, with beautiful, dreamlike illustrations by award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith, My Baba’s Garden is a deeply personal story that evokes universal emotions. Like Scott and Smith’s previous collaboration I Talk Like a River, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, My Baba’s Garden lends wistful appreciation to cherished time with family.
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
About the Author
Jordan Scott is a poet whose work includes Silt, Blert, DECOMP, and Night & Ox. Blert, which explores the poetics of stuttering, is the subject of two National Film Board of Canada projects, Flub and Utter: a poetic memoir of the mouth and STUTTER. Scott was the recipient of the 2018 Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize for his contributions to Canadian poetry. He is the author of I Talk Like a River, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. He lives in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island with his wife and two sons.
Sydney Smith is an illustrator of picture books whose work includes Jordan Scott's I Talk Like a River; Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson; The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart; and Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz, which was awarded the 2018 Kate Greenaway Medal and the 2018 Children's Literature Award. He wrote and illustrated Small in the City, which Kirkus Reviews called "Extraordinary, emotional, and beautifully rendered." in a starred review. School Library Journal said "The use of line, reflection, and perspective masterfully evoke a bustling gray city." in another starred review. Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes, a School Library Journal blog, said "Small in the City is one of my favorite books of 2019." His accolades include two Governor General's Awards for Illustrated Children's Books and four successive New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year citations.
"Beautifully illustrated. . . . Told in spare poetic language, the pictures play a major role. Smith’s watercolor and gouache paintings exquisitely capture the light in Baba’s kitchen, and cars’ headlights in the rain. . . . By the time we’ve finished [this] book, one boy’s Baba is our Baba. . . ."—The New York Times
★ "[A] tender story. . . . Smith’s observational prowess is a perfect match for this story of quiet, contemplative moments of profound meaning, his nuanced and expressive watercolors capturing years of struggle and sorrow on Baba’s face—but also the abundant love she feels for her grandson. . . ."—The Horn Book, Starred Review
★ "Together, Scott and Smith create a portrait of a love which needs few words."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
★ "Scott’s poetic sensibilities distill the days into meaningful moments and images, sometimes captured in similes. . . . Smith’s warm gouache-and-watercolor scenes are filled with gentle gestures and connection. . . . A quiet, tender, and profoundly moving celebration of intergenerational love."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ "Share this heartfelt testament to family widely."—Booklist, Starred Review
★ "A beautiful tale of family and the love shared between a child and grandparent. . . . Gorgeous illustrations brim with emotional use of dappled light and color. . . . This is outstanding storytelling in a marvelous picture book that deserves a place in all collections. . . . This intergenerational story will provide young people with an opportunity to share those special bonds they have with an older person and hopefully encourage them to reflect on the simple acts that connect one generation to the next."—School Library Journal, Starred Review
"Heart-tugging. . . . Smith is an illustrator well suited to capturing a nonverbal bond. As in I Talk Like a River, his dense watercolor and gouache art has a shimmery, textured richness. . . . My Baba's Garden hints at themes like immigration, poverty, loss and the end of life, but the narrative works beautifully at its most basic level: it's a love letter from a grandchild to a grandparent."—Shelf Awareness