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We Are a Garden: A Story of How Diversity Took Root in America

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This lyrical and extremely timely picture book illuminates the many different immigrants who have made their homes in North America through the centuries. Long ago a strong wind blew. It blew people, like seeds, to a new land. The wind blew in a girl and her clan, where herds of mammoths still wandered the frozen tundra. It later blew a boy and his family across frigid This lyrical and extremely timely picture book illuminates the many different immigrants who have made their homes in North America through the centuries. Long ago a strong wind blew. It blew people, like seeds, to a new land. The wind blew in a girl and her clan, where herds of mammoths still wandered the frozen tundra. It later blew a boy and his family across frigid waters, and they spread across the new land. Over time, the wind continued to disperse newcomers from all directions. It blew in men who hoped to find gold, and slave ships, and immigrant families. And so it continued, for generations and generations. Here is a moving and tender picture book that beautifully examines centuries of North American history and its immigrants.


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This lyrical and extremely timely picture book illuminates the many different immigrants who have made their homes in North America through the centuries. Long ago a strong wind blew. It blew people, like seeds, to a new land. The wind blew in a girl and her clan, where herds of mammoths still wandered the frozen tundra. It later blew a boy and his family across frigid This lyrical and extremely timely picture book illuminates the many different immigrants who have made their homes in North America through the centuries. Long ago a strong wind blew. It blew people, like seeds, to a new land. The wind blew in a girl and her clan, where herds of mammoths still wandered the frozen tundra. It later blew a boy and his family across frigid waters, and they spread across the new land. Over time, the wind continued to disperse newcomers from all directions. It blew in men who hoped to find gold, and slave ships, and immigrant families. And so it continued, for generations and generations. Here is a moving and tender picture book that beautifully examines centuries of North American history and its immigrants.

30 review for We Are a Garden: A Story of How Diversity Took Root in America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Aliza Werner

    In an attempt to tell the story of the land and people of what is most recently called the USA, I found many problematic aspects, some of which I share below. Some are expanded upon in end notes more clearly: -Cover: Something feels off with the tag line “A story of how diversity took root in America”. My gut tells me this sounds like diversity was the goal, not a product of colonization, enslavement, and persecution. Diversity didn’t take “root”, but white supremacy did. The image shows Native f In an attempt to tell the story of the land and people of what is most recently called the USA, I found many problematic aspects, some of which I share below. Some are expanded upon in end notes more clearly: -Cover: Something feels off with the tag line “A story of how diversity took root in America”. My gut tells me this sounds like diversity was the goal, not a product of colonization, enslavement, and persecution. Diversity didn’t take “root”, but white supremacy did. The image shows Native folx in the background (some shapeless blobs), white colonizers and refugees in the mid-ground, and a diverse mix of folx in the foreground (ethnic, cultural, racial, religious)...but are any of them Native? -Metaphor: Two metaphors are used here and loosely tied together - the wind and a garden. The garden comparison is lovely and I wish the author played with that more (individual plants that work symbiotically and cooperatively). But the use of wind strikes me as a passive description to bypass the real forces that caused people to “blow” toward this land, which include persecution, poverty, violence, enslavement, conflict, shortages, etc. -The Wind: Why is this problematic? The wind “blew in newcomers from all directions. Some came peacefully, and others pushed aside or clashed with the [indigenous] people...” Pushed aside is one whitewashed way to describe colonization and genocide with all its harms. Then the wind blows in “colonists” whose leader “slaughtered the tribe” on that land, boys and men searching for gold who stole food from Native “villagers”, and slave ships with “traders” (TRADERS!) who “forced” (KIDNAPPED) people. Besides the quick references without specificity, what is most egregious is that the wind is the actor, the one to blame, because the wind blew all of this in. That relieves humans of any responsibility for their actions. -Statue of Liberty: She was erected “ welcoming everyone”. This is also false. Ask any of the passengers on the St. Louis who were turned away to meet their fate under the Nazi regime. Or refugees today. -“But people, like seeds, take root.” Some do and some are prevented from doing so...ask any undocumented folx, DREAMers, and those pushed out due to gentrification and economic factors. -Ending: Last couple pages show an idealized view of America currently - we all have memories and pasts, but we have hope for the future. Do we all? Ask a marginalized group how they feel about the past, present, and future. What about the systemic oppression folx live today? -“They” become “we”: The weight of the implications here are heavy. It smacks of assimilation, gentrification, cultural superiority, homogeneity. -Garden: It ends with the garden metaphor, “a garden of Americans who turn and face the wind”, forced to tie to the wind. -Author is a white woman, illustrator is a white woman (born in Russia). Consider the lens they create through and how this story would be different told by BIPOC or other marginalized identity.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie Kellum

    If you want to teach your littles American history, start with this book which details how people came to be in America. It doesn't hold back on the brutal parts but does so in a way that is still palatable for even the youngest kids. If you want to teach your littles American history, start with this book which details how people came to be in America. It doesn't hold back on the brutal parts but does so in a way that is still palatable for even the youngest kids.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kandrea Cheney

    The watercolor illustrations are awesomely done and help tell this important story of how our nation is made up of migrants from all around the world. I love the Glossary in the back that has definitions of some of the bigger verbiage as well as the history inserts that give more details about each of the cultures mentioned in the story. I did not get a lyrical feel, though, like Goodreads states, however, that did not take away from the story. "... people, like seeds, take root. Their roots form The watercolor illustrations are awesomely done and help tell this important story of how our nation is made up of migrants from all around the world. I love the Glossary in the back that has definitions of some of the bigger verbiage as well as the history inserts that give more details about each of the cultures mentioned in the story. I did not get a lyrical feel, though, like Goodreads states, however, that did not take away from the story. "... people, like seeds, take root. Their roots form a tangled web..."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Beautiful book with lots of important conversation starters about where all of the people in our country came from originally. It's definitely better for an older audience. My 5.5 yo was a little young to grasp all of the topics this hits on. It's an important topic, and I plan to revisit this one in a year or two. Beautiful book with lots of important conversation starters about where all of the people in our country came from originally. It's definitely better for an older audience. My 5.5 yo was a little young to grasp all of the topics this hits on. It's an important topic, and I plan to revisit this one in a year or two.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Aolund

    Do not recommend. This book operates on an extended metaphor of a "strong wind" blowing people (like seeds) to a new land, and while it is factually honest about how various groups of people arrived to what is now North America (i.e. people who we would now call Indigenous people arriving "when glaciers still covered the north," White European colonists arriving from the east in search of treasure, enslaved African people arriving on the ships of slavers—though the text itself says "slaves," not Do not recommend. This book operates on an extended metaphor of a "strong wind" blowing people (like seeds) to a new land, and while it is factually honest about how various groups of people arrived to what is now North America (i.e. people who we would now call Indigenous people arriving "when glaciers still covered the north," White European colonists arriving from the east in search of treasure, enslaved African people arriving on the ships of slavers—though the text itself says "slaves," not "enslaved people"), the extended metaphor has the effect of leveling these distinct—and distinctly unequal—forms of arrival. The atrocities committed by European colonizers were minimized so much as to feel like a lie— for example, writing about what I took to be European colonists in the Virginia colony, Peters writes "When they had trouble growing their own food, they took the food supplies of the [Indigenous] villagers." Writing of Spanish colonizers, she writes that "their brutal leader slaughtered the tribe that was living there," but without context and follow-up, this reads like a one-off event that didn't then extend, throughout time and in various, horrific forms, across the entire continent. The art in this book is very beautiful, but ultimately this is just another form of a "melting pot" story that, while attempting to more realistically depict the history of U.S. America, doesn't look critically enough at the painful ways its telling re-enacts the same erasures and false equivalencies present in so many other stories of how various groups of people came to live in what is now called the United States.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Watercolor and digital illustrations complement poetic text describing how North America came to be populated. The text and images make it clear that it was "a strong wind" that prompted much of this migration as some individuals crossed an icy land bridge and chose to stay while others moved southward. It is clear that there has always been disagreement about the land and resources as some of the newcomers took advantage of those who were already here and many came unwillingly, cargo in the bow Watercolor and digital illustrations complement poetic text describing how North America came to be populated. The text and images make it clear that it was "a strong wind" that prompted much of this migration as some individuals crossed an icy land bridge and chose to stay while others moved southward. It is clear that there has always been disagreement about the land and resources as some of the newcomers took advantage of those who were already here and many came unwillingly, cargo in the bowels of huge ships. Page by page, the book covers some of the more unsavory parts of our nation's history, including the Chinese exclusion act and treatment of braceros from Mexico. The final scenes depict the various individuals who have come to this country for many different reasons, adding their own unique contributions to their new home just as those who preceded them did. The valuable back matter explains the contents of each page so that readers realize that we are unequivocally a nation of immigrants, our foremothers and forefathers having moved from other places long ago or even as recently as yesterday. This picture book's contents are relevant and moving and beg the question about how a nation decides whom to admit and whom to deny admission as well as how to keep that garden flourishing. Because many seeds are sown by the wind, the title for this picture book is fitting. The book itself would fit well in a thematic unit or series of lessons on immigration.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jari Jones

    An awesome read to show how immigrants shaped America. It started with those who lived here first, to those who came forcibly. At the end of the book is a glossary with words that children may not know or identify, as well as the timeline in history of the natives that were here and the immigrants that came. Such an important story to read to show that we all have a story and we each our important to this garden in America.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This is an amazing book. It went a little over the head of my almost 5 year old, but the art is gorgeous- and it doesn't shy away from the bad in our history. Read this one to your kids, it might lead to uncomfortable questions- but we need kids to know the truth of the country's history. And again, the art is beautiful This is an amazing book. It went a little over the head of my almost 5 year old, but the art is gorgeous- and it doesn't shy away from the bad in our history. Read this one to your kids, it might lead to uncomfortable questions- but we need kids to know the truth of the country's history. And again, the art is beautiful

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tony Pope

    Loved this picture book! It does a great job explaining how the diverse cultures of the America’s came here and did not hold back on some of the ugly episodes of our history. A great book for any library collection whether home or institution.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    This is a beautiful chronology of people coming the North America. The illustrations are also gorgeous. Diverse reads: - Covers the gamut of people who have come to North America from indigenous peoples to conquistadores to immigrants to slaves and more.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Casper

    Our nation's history - covers immigration in a way that can be understood by anyone. Our nation's history - covers immigration in a way that can be understood by anyone.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol Scrimgeour

    This is a perfect book to introduce the idea to young people how humans came to be in North America, how they got there, and that we all come from somewhere else.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Malissa

  14. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacqui

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amy Sands

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shoshanna

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shahd Rdawi

  20. 5 out of 5

    Keir Bridges

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stella

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gordon

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lauri Fortino

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Konarske

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  26. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

  27. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emma

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