Interested in starting a garden? Wanting to troubleshoot your gardening process? You will be in good hands with Joseph Tychonievich (writer) and Liz Anna Kozik’s (illustrator) new graphic novel “The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food.”
I discovered this title while browsing in the new book room of The Urbana Free Library last February, at a time of year when I’m missing my fresh-picked tomatoes and crisp pickling cucumbers.
In the opening pages, readers meet Mia, a dreaming computer coder envious of her neighbor’s garden, and George, the expert gardener who lives
After Mia assists George with a computer problem, George offers to help Mia start a garden. Thus begins the story of their friendship and Mia’s gardening adventure.
George’s 30 years of gardening are woven into the story, offered as “George’s #1 Rules” for gardening.
Chapter headings such as “Location,” “Deciding What to Grow” and “Maintaining and Troubleshooting” keep the information organized and provide easily digestible (pun intended) sections.
More special features include an index to George’s “cheat sheets,” an overall book index, further reading (books) and resources to explore (online sources for information and seeds.)
Tychonievich may be familiar as a guest on NPR’s “Splendid Table,” while Kozik’s background in illustration and science communication make her an excellent choice to present the visual narrative.
Muted earth-tone colors, thick outlines and rounded shapes make the story feel grounded and welcoming.
Ample white space between frames makes the story and information easily accessible, with space for dreaming.
The story’s visual pacing echoes the conversational tone of the narrative, while pausing for more technical information on soil composition, common pests and harvesting tips.
What sets this book apart from others on gardening is its acknowledgment that there are many ways to garden, and this book provides you one, two or three that can get you started or shore up your practice without overwhelming you with options.
Through Mia and George’s interaction, the authors take you through the thought process you have as you start a garden (I want a garden this BIG!) and common pitfalls you will encounter (too BIG!).
Having stumbled into some of these challenges myself, this book would have saved much frustration on my part when I first started gardening.
But whether you end up creating your own garden patch or not, you are left with a satisfying story of transformation — of a yard, a friendship and a lifestyle.
If you finish “The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food” and find yourself inspired to read more, The Urbana Free Library has you covered with new titles such as “The First-Time Gardener: Growing Vegetables” by Jessica Sowards (detailed and full of photographs) and “The Beginner’s Guide to Great Vegetables” by Lorene Edwards Forkner (to-do lists for each month of the year).
For even more inspiration, try the library’s seed lending library page, urbanafree
library.org/books-more/seed-lending-library. (Yes, you read that correctly — you can borrow seeds from the library!)
At the library’s seed page, you can view current seed availability, local community gardening resources and information about the locally based Solidarity Gardens Project, solidarity-