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Children's Fiction Multigenerational

A Garden Called Home

by (author) Jessica J. Lee

illustrated by Elaine Chen

Initial publish date
Feb 2024
Multigenerational, Asia, Environment
Recommended Age
3 to 7
Recommended Grade
p to 2
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2024
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


What makes the place we live feel like home? This is a warm-hearted and lush picture book about family, the immigrant experience and how a simple garden can foster a connection to the larger natural world.

Mama was born in a country far away from here. I love her stories about warm rain in winter and green mountains. And now Mama's taking me there!

When a young girl and her mother go to visit her family, the girl notices a change. At home, her mother mostly stays inside. Here, her mother likes to explore and go hiking. The girl has never seen her so happy! Her mother tells her about the trees, bushes, flowers and birds. Did you know that tree roots make mountains strong? And that ài hāo (mugwort) is used to make delicious, sweet dumplings?

But her mother's smile goes away when they return home. It's cold and she doesn't want to go outside. She goes back to wearing her big quilted jackets and watering her houseplants.

How can the girl show her mother that nature here can be wondrous too?

Includes a glossary of plants with Mandarin/English words.

About the authors

Jessica J. Lee's profile page

Elaine Chen is an illustrator, painter, and visual storyteller. She enjoys using her own expressions to capture life's little things and moments that cannot be put into words. Currently, she works as an artist at a video game studio in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Elaine Chen's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“This beautiful story of love, resilience, and family will appeal to readers of all ages.” STARRED REVIEW, School Library Journal

"[A] heartening reminder to hold on to our inherited seeds wherever we go, allowing them to bloom in all the places we come to call home." STARRED REVIEW, Quill and Quire

"Chen captures the beauty of both settings and the emotions of the main characters in a series of colorful, expressive gouache paintings. Lee writes with sensitivity for both the child and the mother. An encouraging picture book, particularly for other children of immigrants." —Booklist
“An endearing tale about the importance of fostering love and connection—no matter where home is.” —Kirkus Reviews
"[A] tender familial narrative. . . . Lee’s lovable characters, portrayed with pale skin and dark hair, organically introduce the natural world into the story line, and Chen’s digitally edited gouache illustrations depict the impact of getting to know its diversity." —Publishers Weekly
"[A] delicately told and sensitive story that revolves around an evolving mother-daughter relationship through which it explores two complementary themes that pertain to the experience of immigration." —Canadian Review of Materials

"A Garden Called Home begins with a tough premise. The girl’s responsibility for her mother’s emotional renewal could have ended in sadness. Instead, her fascination with the environment, her persistence in expressing that experience, and her mother’s hidden strength, allow their life together to bloom." Imaginary Elevators

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