Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Good Garden: How One Family Went From Hunger to Having Enough

Daigneault, Sylvie (Illustrator)
Kids Can Press 2010. 32 pages
First published: 2010
Series: CitizenKid
ISBN: 9781554534883 (hardcover)
9781771386449 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

character, multigenre, multimodal, structures and features

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Based on the true story of Eliás Sanchez, a teacher who came to the Honduran hills and taught poor families farming techniques to ensure good crops and food security, this non-fiction tale follows the Duartes as they move from fear to independence. Like many families in the area, they struggle to survive from the meagre crop yield of their small plot of land. The grain buyer (who they refer to as “the coyote”) watches them closely, hoping to loan them seeds, send them into debt and eventually claim their land. Mariá Luz, the eldest daughter, is left in charge of the crop while her father goes into the mountains to find extra work. Thanks to her new teacher, she ends up improving the land, growing specialty crops and learning how to sell produce at the market.

The story is told in a reassuring narrative voice, while conveying detailed information about sustainable farming techniques and the difficulties of life in a developing country. “‘Has the land lost its goodness, Papa?’ Her father lowers his head. When he looks up, there is sadness in his eyes.” Broken down into ten single-page chapters, with headings like “Hunger on the Hillside,” “Hard Choices” and “Helping Hands,” information is clearly conveyed, with in-depth factual material at the back.

Large, dreamy, coloured-pencil illustrations in vivid colours fill the oversized pages. A sweeping sun and glowing hills feature strongly, lending an uplifting element to the harsh realities.

Herein lies a testament to the power of teaching to transform lives.

  •  Do a picture walk, looking at the illustrations and page titles. Make inferences about the characters, setting and plot.
  •  

    How are the lives of the children in the story similar to or different from yours? How does your community compare?

  •  

    Why is Señor Lobo referred to as the coyote? What other animals are used to describe human qualities?

  •  Write a list of tips for gardening, based on the new techniques the villagers learn from Don Pedro.
  •  What might have happened if Don Pedro had not arrived in the village? Think of other examples of people who have made positive contributions to their communities.
  •  

    Make predictions about the story from the book cover. Explore the titles to confirm your predictions.

  •  For each page title, write a summary of the text.
  •  

    Discuss the roles of the coyote and Don Pedro. Compare their roles in the village. Use information from the text to support your ideas.

  •  

    With a partner, compare and contrast how the lives of the Duartes family change between the beginning and end of the story. What were the main reasons for this change?

  •  

    Research the fruits and vegetables that grow in Honduras. Which ones does the country export? Are they exported to Canada?

  •  Read one page at a time. Pause to take turns retelling the narrative text on that page. Use the page title to help you focus on what’s most important.
  •  Research the real teacher who inspired this book and present your findings in a creative way.
  •  

    Use the “What can you do to help?” section to motivate yourself or others (family, neighbourhood, class, school) to take action to improve food security.

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To solve problems
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology