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Children's Fiction Friendship

Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden

by (author) Andrew Larsen

illustrated by Anne Villeneuve

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
May 2019
Friendship, Environment, City & Town Life
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2019
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2
  • Reading age: 3 to 7


Vincent is staying with his aunt Mimi for the summer while his mom recuperates from surgery. Mimi's drab city neighborhood, complete with an empty dirt lot across the street, doesn't seem too promising. But then Vincent meets Toma, a boy who lives nearby, and things start looking up. Mimi has a mysterious box of “dirt balls” in her apartment. When she asks Vincent to get rid of them, the fun Vincent and Toma have throwing them into the lot becomes the start of a budding friendship. Then one day, they notice new shoots sprouting all over the lot. Maybe those balls weren't just made of dirt after all!

Bestselling author Andrew Larsen brings a light touch and gentle humor to this picture book story about several kinds of growth --- of the boys and their friendship, the flowers in the newly thriving lot, and the community that comes together around it. Award-winning artist Anne Villeneuve's illustrations add a visual layer to the storytelling as they show the transformation from mostly gray to vibrant color, both literally, in the blossoming garden, and figuratively, in the now engaged neighborhood. This book highlights the value of connecting to nature, even in urban areas, and the sense of community that comes from civic engagement. It's an excellent choice for character education lessons on kindness, generosity and citizenship.

About the authors


Andrew Larsen est père au foyer et auteur. Quand il était enfant, il passait toujours une partie de son été au chalet de ses grands-parents, situé sur une colline, près d'un lac. Andrew habite à Toronto. Il a publié sept albums jeunesse.


Andrew Larsen is a father, homemaker and author. When he was a child, he would spend a part of every summer with his grandparents at their cottage on a hill, by a lake. Andrew now lives in a downtown Toronto neighbourhood. He has published seven picture books.


Andrew Larsen's profile page

Anne Villeneuve has written and illustrated close to 40 books, created games for magazines, illustrated for newspapers and designed cake boxes for a bakery. Over the years, her work has earned her many distinguished recognitions, such as the Governor General's Literary Award and the Québec/Wallonie-Bruxelles Literary Award in 2000, the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award in 2005 and 2009, and the Mr. Christie's Book Award in 1998.

Anne Villeneuve's profile page


  • Green Earth Book Award, The Nature Generation
  • Sheila Barry Best Canadian Picturebook of the Year Award, Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable
  • Short-listed, Blue Spruce Award, Ontario Library Association
  • The Globe 100: Books that shaped 2019, The Globe and Mail
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection, Canadian Children's Book Centre

Editorial Reviews

This wonderfully written book will entertain young readers or listeners in a read-aloud.—School Library Connection

... a captivating story involving friendship and the positive outcome a community garden can have on activating civic engagement and a culture of caring.—Canadian Children's Book News

... a wonderfully well-executed story of friendship, community, and the importance of nature and its potential as a source for inspiration, healing, and bringing people together.—CM Magazine

A lovely addition to libraries and classrooms, especially those looking for multicultural characters and insightful books about friendship.

School Library Journal

... a heartwarming story of serendipity and connection, both among people and with the environment.

Booklist, starred review

... magical ...—The Globe and Mail

A sweet story that celebrates community coming together to create something wonderful.

Kirkus Reviews

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