Mia Makes a Meadow
By Rachel Lawston & Beatriz Castro, Pikku Publishing
What's it about? Mia loves to help her neighbour Erik in their shared courtyard garden. When Erik has to go abroad, Mia and her mother promise to look after his cat (Luna) and the garden while he's away. But the door to the shed with the lawnmower is locked and before long the once tidy courtyard becomes wild. What will Erik think when he returns? What can we learn? Even if you live in a busy city or block of flats, it's possible to find your own little green corner of the world. This story shows how gardens don't have to be perfectly pruned to be enjoyed and that birds, bees and other creatures thrive in less manicured spaces. And there are two pages of facts about insects, plants and pollination as well as a guide to rewilding at the back.
What makes this stand out? Mia Makes a Meadow celebrates rewilding and encourages children to connect with nature, with breathtaking illustrations. As other reviews have already mentioned, it has a rare setting in that Mia lives in a flat rather than a romantic-looking house with a picket fence. And like its predecessor, Finn's Garden Friends, it features ethnically diverse main characters.
About those illustrations... They are stunning; buzzing with wildlife and brimming with attractive and interesting details. It's wonderful for little readers to see the garden gradually blossom and grow more abundant as each page is turned. Finding Luna the cat in each scene is so much fun. We loved spotting Finn from Finn's Garden Friends in Mia's meadow and some of his artwork on Mia's bedroom wall too! In another nod to Finn, we see a hedgehog hiding behind a pair of wellie boots, while a fox peeps out of the long grass. I love how Mia's mum takes their promise to Erik so seriously, that she can be seen reading a book about cats on one page and one about gardening on another.
Why we love it... It's an incredibly inspirational story with exquisite artwork. It's so lovely to see how the presence of nature makes the community stronger and how the meadow transforms even the block of flats and not just its courtyard. There are hardly any window boxes or people on balconies at the start of the story but the building is brimming with both by the end. It's also brilliant how Mia and Erik create a tidy path through the meadow, showing that compromise is always possible. And just like Finn's Garden Friends, Mia Makes a Meadow includes a fabulous spotter's guide which provides even more entertainment and makes this book ideal for occupying children in classrooms, waiting rooms and on long journeys.
Why you need it...
Not only is this beautiful to look at, but it also tells a meaningful story that will empower little readers and encourage them to make their own worlds more beautiful too. It's fantastic how this shows little readers that nature is always on their doorstep - no matter where that doorstep might be.
About the author:
Rachel Lawston is a children’s author, book designer and natural history enthusiast. She is a keen amateur orchid hunter, birdwatcher and bat detector! Growing up in the countryside gave Rachel a deep connection to the world around her, which she is passionate about sharing. In her free time, Rachel loves helping children to discover nature in her role as an education volunteer at WWT London Wetland Centre in Barnes. Read a review of Rachel's first book, Finn's Garden Friends here and find our interview with Rachel here.
About the illustrator: Beatriz Castro is a professional illustrator. Growing up in Logroño, La Rioja, Spain, she was inspired by the natural world around her to draw and write fantastic stories. She is passionate about animals and books, including classic stories and fairy tales, and enjoys listening to rock and punk music. Her beautiful artwork has been published by numerous international publishing houses. See more work by Beatriz on her website: beatrizcastroilustracion.com
Mia Makes a Meadow was published by Pikku on 7th April 2022 - see this book on the publisher's website Read our review of Finn's Garden Friends by Rachel Lawston and Lia Visirin Read our interview with Rachel Lawston