Reviews /

Luna Loves Gardening

Authored by Joseph Coelho
Illustrated by Fiona Lumbers
Published by Andersen Press Ltd

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The Coelho-Lumbers Luna series reaches its fifth instalment and is one of the most touching yet.

The ever-supportive Dad takes Luna off to the local community garden in order for Luna to learn how gardening can be ‘like digging up a world of stories’. There, she meets Nana and Grandpa, who give Luna her first mini story about potatoes and swallows. Meanwhile, Dad is making a bug hotel to entice creepy-crawlies to the garden, explaining the role that they can play in cultivating plants from seeds.

Luna continues she meets Mr Kushnir who talks about beetroots; Mina, whose carrot seeds have come from Afghanistan; Mo, whose calabash seeds grow into instruments. And so, it goes – Luna patiently waiting and watering, hoping for something to appear.

Is this a book about gardening? Well, a bit. There are moments where Luna is pulling weeds and supporting climbers, and some of her questions help her to understand why things are as they are as seeds grow roots and start to spread.

More than gardening, this book is a celebration of diversity, and of the culture we have and should cherish in this country. The community garden is surely chosen on purpose, for what is food if not a celebration of community? People from different countries bring their own seeds to share with Luna, and this could serve as a microcosm of our nation as a whole – whether it be music, language, art, literature, or, in this case, food arriving on these shores from countries the world over, it should be celebrated.

Fiona Lumbers’ beautiful artwork fills each and every page, and as we move through the story, the focus moves from people to plants, before combining the two in a vibrant conclusion. There are also lovely endpapers which give advice to readers about how to look after the ecological environment in our own gardens.

I could see this book being used widely in younger classes as they learn about growing plants from seed, or as part of outdoor learning groups with all ages. But I would certainly be confident using it with older year groups in the primary phase to celebrate the history of the foods we eat.

So yes, Luna does love gardening, and rightly so, but perhaps all of us should love a little more the cultural diversity that has enriched us.