GREEN GREEN Reviews, Honors, Press

GREEN GREEN: A Community Gardening Story
by Marie and Baldev Lamba
illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
(Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan, 2017)
for purchase info, click here

Below are honors, followed by reviews and press (with links to interviews, podcasts and blog posts). Thanks for popping by! 🙂


  • 2020 BookRiot List, 10 Picture Books for the Budding Environmentalist
  • 2019 BookRiot List, Best Children’s Books About Health and Safety
  • 2018 Merit Award, Communications Category, PA-DE American Society of Landscape Architects
  • Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s Choices 2018 Best of the Year List – Picture Books for Young Children
  • A 2018-2019 Read on Wisconsin (ROW) Reading List title
  • Named Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2018 by the Children’s Book Council and the National Council for the Social Studies
  • 2017 Best in Rhyme Award nominee
  • A National Aquarium’s favorite aquatic- and conservation-themed book, on their FALL 2017 REEF TO READ BOOK CLUB list.
  • Illustration from GREEN GREEN by Sonia Sanchez featured in the The Society of Illustrators exhibit The Original Art: Celebrating the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration, New York City
  • Selected Eco-Book of the Month, October 2017, by Authors for Earth Day


BOOKRIOT says GREEN GREEN is a “joyful celebration”
“…a loving ode to building community through planting and growing things. I love the illustrations in this book, the joyful celebration of the outdoors, and the helpful notes to kids about how to start their own community gardens.”

Shelf-Awareness calls GREEN GREEN “pure inspiration”:
“Green green/ fresh and clean./ Brown brown,/ dig the ground.” With a little digging, raking, planting and watering, a garden can grow just about anywhere–even in a cramped lot between city buildings. Green Green is husband-and-wife team Marie Lamba (What I Meant) and landscape architect Baldev Lamba’s ode to a greener world, gorgeously illustrated by Barcelonian Sonia Sánchez (Here I Am).

The picture book opens with children frolicking in verdant meadows, butterflies and bees like confetti flung among them. With each passing page, though, the concrete and steel of a city encroaches, shrinking the “green green” to tiny spaces “in between.” The city is growing and the children are in danger of losing their green play spaces altogether… until they see the potential in a vacant lot: “Squirrel gray,/ pigeon blue,/ weeds and wildflowers,/ litter, too.” They ask the adults, “Brown brown,/ dig the ground?” and soon neighbors join together to create a beautiful community garden that pushes back against the gloomy gray of the city.

Sánchez’s illustrations are full of sweet-faced multi-ethnic families in cozy cardigans and mixed-patterned outfits. There’s always something new to catch among the pages: a watering can on a fire escape, an old refrigerator in the yard, gardening gloves hanging out of one mom’s pocket. The final spread provides ideas to “Make Your World More Green Green” and explains how we can help bees and butterflies. With its simple text and lush artwork, Green Green serves as pure inspiration. Readers of all ages will want to run for their spades and seed packets as soon as the last page is read. —Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor… Discover: In this exquisitely illustrated picture book, buildings and litter overwhelm urban green spaces until children take action, getting adults involved in creating a community garden.

School Library Journal calls it an “attractive read-aloud”:
PreS-Gr 2–A basic introduction to community gardens for youngsters. Beginning with a lush, rural landscape with old houses, picket fences, and a young family gardening in their spacious yard, the narrative shows bulldozers arriving as “stone and metal, the city grows.” Rather suddenly, viewers are in an established urban landscape of high-rise buildings and neglected, overgrown lots. Green and brown have turned to “pigeon blue and squirrel gray,” though plants still peek out from “in between” pavement cracks and balcony planter boxes. The colored pencil illustrations depict a diverse cast of children and adults of all ages who see an overgrown city lot and with the repeated refrain of “Brown brown,/dig the ground” transform it into a vibrant garden. Back matter includes additional information on community gardens and pollinators as well as a butterfly craft project. The simple text pairs well with the detailed visuals, each spread packed with movement and activity…an attractive read-aloud for beginning lessons on gardening. A strong addition to most shelves.

Kirkus says it’s “an explosion of color”:
As a community garden springs up between concrete blocks and asphalt slabs, the literal urban jungle’s praises are sung with each scene of burgeoning life. Vegetable plots, flower beds, and containers inspire city dwellers of all stripes and sizes to “dig the ground.” … Sánchez’s multiracial city residents come together to transform a vacant lot into a community garden. … The artist’s deft hand captures the varied shades of green thriving across the countryside and the orchestrated greens of the communal garden. Along fences, on windowsills, and in postage stamp-sized yards, butterflies and bright flowers join in an explosion of color that draws neighbors together. A craft as well as tips for organizing community gardens and creating pollinator-friendly habitats are included. The intricacies of the vibrant artwork dazzle

Cooperative Children’s Book Council says “vibrant”:
“Green green / fresh and clean. Brown brown / dig the ground,” begins this story as a group of children play in a grassy meadow and tend to a sprawling backyard garden. Soon, though, “brown brown / dig the ground” takes on a less pleasant meaning, as bulldozers and trucks begin clearing the land to make way for new buildings. Grass and flowers become stone and metal as the city expands. In the midst of the concrete jungle, what was once a grassy lot becomes a makeshift junkyard. Gardens are reduced to planters on balconies. Then one day, a little girl with a shovel turns the book’s familiar refrain into a question. “Brown brown / dig the ground?” An affirming “Brown brown / dig the ground!” sounds as a diverse group of neighbors gathers in a large lot to remove the litter, till the earth, and plant seeds. The garden they create grows into a colorful, verdant, once-again-sprawling place of beauty in the midst of the city. Sánchez’s illustrations are as vibrant as the community garden that blooms in these pages.

ReadingPowerGear says “wonderful and inspiring”:
a wonderful and inspiring book about children who join forces together to build a community garden. Gorgeous illustrations and lovely rhyming text. Wonderful details on each page to inspire discussion with primary students about the environment, community, and taking care of our Earth. Two page information spread at the back gives information about how to make more “green” in your world and the importance of gardens to bees and butterflies. Great!

Jean Little Library dubs it a “great storytime choice, or a perfect pick for a garden program”:
…I love the illustrations and the theme of this one so much that I think I will be adding it.

A racially mixed group of kids and parents enjoy the green of fields, backyards, and gardens. But when trucks and diggers come to town and start construction, “Brown brown, dig the ground.” soon the city takes over everything. …With a lot of hard work, the green grows once again, sandwiched between the city buildings.

Back matter includes inspiration for city gardens, suggestions for helping pollinators, and a butterfly craft.

Sonia Sanchez’ illustrations show the joy and exuberance of a garden and the green that grows all around, as well as the hard work it takes to clear, dig, and maintain the space. … The pages sing with color, greens, browns, even the yellows and grays of the city streets. Verdict: An inspiring and poetic book, a great storytime choice, or a perfect pick for a garden program.

Children’s Book & Media Review rates it “Outstanding”:
‘Green green, keep it clean’ inspires all people of all ages and races to make a difference in the world we live in. The last pages of the book share ideas about the creation of community gardens, the importance of bees and butterflies and how to make simple butterfly decorations…Green Green was a Best in Rhyme nominee in 2017, for the short words of verse on each double page of colorful and evocative illustrations. Though a picture book, it is appropriate for children in nursery school to sixth grade and could be used to start discussions about the importance of green space that attracts birds, butterflies and bees, environmental change, community gardens, and urban revitalization.

Authors for Earth Day, says “lovely, lyrical”:
…will encourage young gardeners who live in urban settings to get growing! A lovely, lyrical verse shapes the story of a community garden plot. Accompanied by Sonia Sanchez’s illustrations, this book is a perfect read, spring, summer, winter, and fall! Back matter includes a fun butterfly art activity, making this a great #STEAM read for k-2 classrooms.

The Caterpillar Corner says “breathtakingly beautiful”:
…a wonderful picture book for promoting environmental awareness for young readers ages 2-6. Written in simple, poetic form and accompanied by vibrant, dynamic illustrations, Green Green follows the transformation of the land and the way a group of community members work together to restore some elements of nature…the perfect picture book for exposing young children to the concept of environmentalism and showing them some simple ways that they can feel empowered to make a difference. The illustrations by Sonia Sanchez are breathtakingly beautiful, subtle yet powerful. They bring the simple yet impactful text to life and give readers a lot to talk about.

Bird Meets Worm says “the message is powerful”:
Green Green, A Community Gardening Story is a picture book close to my heart… Written as a poetic narrative, Green Green shows how children can change their own world and bring people together by doing something as simple as building a garden for their neighbors to share. The message is powerful—it inspires community and fosters a love for cultivating our natural environment, even in a big urban city. …Green Green will give the reader an open invitation to talk about their community, the environment and how to care for our world.

Everyday Diversity for Children 2017: A List of Kids’ Books for Preschool Through Primary Grades says: “packs a lot of meaning into its text and pictures…poetic”

Susanna Leonard Hill, in her Perfect Picture Book Friday post says: a gorgeous picture book
I think it will inspire us all to go out and spend the weekend digging in dirt… Simply told with gorgeous pictures (so beautiful I couldn’t decide which interior spread to share because I wanted to share them all!), this story is perfect to introduce youngest readers to the idea of community gardening. It’s also empowering because it’s the kids who band together to save the green space. I love the concept that even if a child lives in the city, he or she can have a garden and care for our earth. The illustrations are wonderful and offer something for everyone from plants to animals to construction vehicles…”


GREEN GREEN featured on The Hiding Spot Blog

Authors Marie and Baldev Lamba are featured in THE LIARS CLUB ODDCAST podcast. Listen in to hear them talking about GREEN GREEN, where their ideas come from, and the picture book writing process. Click here to tune in.

Marie and Baldev Lamba were interviewed for WDVR FM’s Into the Garden. Listen to the authors on this fun radio program (starting at 8:30 minutes in) by clicking here 

Featured in My First Picture Book Q&A over at Karlin Gray’s Blog

Out of the Blue Comes a Kids’ Book about being Greener – feature story, Doylestown Intelligencer, April 28, 2018

Interview at Canadian site The Quick Brown Fox

GREEN GREEN recommended as a way to teach children about community in a religious setting by Storypath – Lectionary Links.