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Jayden and a new friend bring nature to the city in this timeless story about a community garden
Amidst all the buildings, people, and traffic in his neighborhood, Jayden sees nature everywhere: the squirrels scrounging, the cardinals calling, and the dandelions growing. But Mama doesn’t believe there’s nature in the city. So Jayden sets out to help Mama see what he sees. With the help of his friend Mr. Curtis, Jayden plants the seeds of a community garden and brings together his neighbors—and Mama—to show them the magic of nature in the middle of the city.
Timeless and vibrant, this story highlights the beauty of intergenerational relationships and the power of imagination and perseverance in bringing the vision of a community garden to life. Jayden’s love of nature will inspire readers to see their environment and surroundings as bursting with opportunities for growth and connection. At the back of the book, readers will find activities to make items found in the book, such as the milk jug bird feeder.
Jayden’s Impossible Garden is the winner of the 2019 African American Voices in Children’s Literature writing contest, cosponsored by Strive Publishing and Free Spirit Publishing, and the recipient of the 2021 Foreword INDIES Honorable Mention, Picture Books, Early Reader (Children's).
About the Author
Working at the intersection of nature, literature, and culture, Mélina Mangal’s writing highlights youth whose voices are rarely heard, and the people and places that inspire them to explore their world. She is the author of short stories and biographies for youth, including The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just, winner of the Carter G. Woodson Book Award and named an NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Mélina also works as a school library teacher in Minnesota and enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, whether it’s in her backyard or hiking in the woods.
Ken Daley is an artist and an award-winning illustrator of two picture books, Joseph's Big Ride and Auntie Luce's Talking Paintings (Kirkus Review and Américas Award Honorable Mention). Ken draws inspiration for his work from his African-Caribbean roots, his life experiences, and the people and cultures he encounters along the way. Ken was born in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, and currently lives with his wife and two pets in Rhode Island. You can visit him at kendaleyart.com.
- 2021 Foreword INDIES Honorable Mention, Picture Books, Early Reader (Children's)
“An abundance of STEAM connections and wonderful character representation.”
— Booklist, Starred Review
“Jayden carves out a natural space for himself with the help of a friend in this compassionate picture book.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Jayden's Impossible Garden inspires a glorious discovery of community and shared treasures hiding in plain sight. A joy to unearth.”
— Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor and three-time Coretta Scott King Author Award winner
“Entertaining, informative, inspiring.”
— Children’s Bookwatch
“Mangal’s story is simple and sweet, with instructions on how to make one’s own urban garden. Daley’s cheerful paintings highlight color and natural beauty.”
— Star Tribune
“Jayden loves nature! He loves playing outside and reading books all about nature. His mom does not think that there is any nature in the city. With the support of his friend Mr. Curtis, Jayden helps his mom think about and see the different ways nature is all around them.”
— Rabia Khokhar