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Children's Fiction Diversity & Multicultural

Jayden's Impossible Garden

by (author) Melina Mangal

illustrated by Ken Daley

Free Spirit Publishing
Initial publish date
Mar 2021
Diversity & Multicultural
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 9
  • Grade: p to 4


Jayden and a new friend bring nature to the city in this timeless story about a community garden

Amidst all the buildings, people, and traffic in his neighborhood, Jayden sees nature everywhere: the squirrels scrounging, the cardinals calling, and the dandelions growing. But Mama doesn’t believe there’s nature in the city. So Jayden sets out to help Mama see what he sees. With the help of his friend Mr. Curtis, Jayden plants the seeds of a community garden and brings together his neighbors—and Mama—to show them the magic of nature in the middle of the city.

Timeless and vibrant, this story highlights the beauty of intergenerational relationships and the power of imagination and perseverance in bringing the vision of a community garden to life. Jayden’s love of nature will inspire readers to see their environment and surroundings as bursting with opportunities for growth and connection. At the back of the book, readers will find activities to make items found in the book, such as the milk jug bird feeder.

Jayden’s Impossible Garden is the winner of the 2019 African American Voices in Children’s Literature writing contest, cosponsored by Strive Publishing and Free Spirit Publishing, and the recipient of the 2021 Foreword INDIES Honorable Mention, Picture Books, Early Reader (Children's).

About the authors

Melina Mangal's profile page

Ken Daley is an illustrator who draws inspiration for his work from his African Caribbean roots. He has illustrated Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish, which received a Skipping Stones Honor Award for International Multicultural Books, and Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour, an Américas Award Honor Book and a Kirkus Best Picture Book about History and Tradition.He has exhibited his art in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean, and his work can be found in numerous private collections. Ken lives in Cambridge, Ontario.


Ken Daley's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Entertaining, informative, inspiring.”

Children’s Bookwatch

  • 2021 Foreword INDIES Honorable Mention, Picture Books, Early Reader (Children's)

“Mangal’s story is simple and sweet, with instructions on how to make one’s own urban garden. Daley’s cheerful paintings highlight color and natural beauty.”

Star Tribune

Jayden's Impossible Garden inspires a glorious discovery of community and shared treasures hiding in plain sight. A joy to unearth.”

Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor and three-time Coretta Scott King Author Award winner

“Jayden loves nature! He loves playing outside and reading books all about nature. His mom does not think that there is any nature in the city. With the support of his friend Mr. Curtis, Jayden helps his mom think about and see the different ways nature is all around them.”


“Jayden carves out a natural space for himself with the help of a friend in this compassionate picture book.”

Publishers Weekly

“An abundance of STEAM connections and wonderful character representation.”

Booklist, Starred Review

Other titles by Ken Daley