In a town there’s a courtyard garden that is surrounded by flats. Mia, who lives there with her mum, loves to play in the garden. It’s the neighbour, Erik, who tends to the garden. He likes everything ‘spick-and-span and spotless‘. Although, it’s a contrast to “messy and muddy” Mia.
But Erik has to go abroad for a long time to see family. As a result, the garden starts to become taller, bushier and wilder so mum suggests they lend a hand. However, they can’t open Erik’s shed. Before long, the garden is filled with wildflowers, and Mia helps sow more.
Nature flourishes, and the community gets involved too. What will Erik think when he returns?
I picked a good day to read this book. It’s spring, the sun is bright and gardens and green spaces are waking up. Growth seems to be everywhere. And as you read this book, it seems to grow too. This is mostly down to the artwork, which uses a mix of size and spreads to bring the reader into the garden or perhaps bring the garden out of the pages. Either way, you get to feel and hear the garden with all the wildlife buzzing around you.
Mia is the only child character in the story, although others appear in the illustrations, which means that the intergenerational relationships are a big part of the text. Her relationship with her mum is close and nurturing and she guides her daughter in the project. Mia ultimately becomes the guide herself, showing the different ways adults and children benefit from these relationships.
Teaching and guiding are something this text does well. It shows the reader how to encourage wildlife and create genuine community spaces that everyone can enjoy. In addition, the accuracy of the artwork by Beatriz Castro, and knowledge of writer Rachel Lawston, makes this very much a nonfiction text too. For example, a key lets you search for all the flowers and animals drawn into the pictures. Great for introducing new vocabulary and creating young experts.
With all the joy, you might wonder where the conflict is. Well, the set up at the beginning of a neat Erik gives an underlying tension throughout the story, making for good discussion. For instance, readers can talk about whether Mia and her mum were right in doing what they did without asking Erik. In my view, the plot device of them not being able to open the shed, absolves them of any wrongdoing, although other readers may think differently.
Mia Makes a Meadow will inspire readers to create wild spaces, build communities, and form positive relationships. Urban wilding is vital for many reasons and bringing books like these into the classroom is a great way to get children outside of it. A book for the seasons of growth and definitely one to read to an EY or KS1 class outside in the sunshine.
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