Reviews for Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

Booklist Reviews 2013 November #1
*Starred Review* Basketball-player-turned-urban-farmer Will Allen is the subject of this inspiring picture book. After spending his childhood on a farm--where he vowed never to plant or dig ever again--Allen went on to play professional basketball in Europe. While there, he realized that he actually enjoyed making food grow, and so, back in the U.S., he purchased a derelict lot in Milwaukee and began the process of transforming it into an urban farm. He learned lessons along the way, such as the appropriate compost to feed to the red wriggler worms that keep his soil clean and healthy. Allen now oversees an operation that aims to educate and encourage people around the world to grow their own food--even if they only have a pot on their porch to cultivate. The idea of farming as a community builder, rather than a solitary vocation, comes across clearly in the book. Martin's spare, purposeful language covers a great deal of territory, and a large time frame, but it never overwhelms or sounds preachy. The illustrations represent diverse individuals working together and enjoying the bounty of their labor. An amiable note from Will Allen concludes, as well as a list of resources to help kids start their own gardens. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 September #2
Martin (Snowflake Bentley, 1998, etc.) shares the real-life story of Will Allen, innovative farmer and founder of Growing Power, an urban farm in Milwaukee. "Will Allen can see / what others can't see. / When he sees kids, he sees farmers." Martin begins and ends with this positive premise. In between, she sketches salient events that stoked Allen's commitment to empowering people to grow their own food. Raised in a food-loving family that grew and shared its own, Will eschewed weeding and picking for college and a move to Belgium to play pro basketball, where he continued gardening on the side. He brought an acumen for growing veggies home to Milwaukee and saw that "fresh vegetables / were as scarce in the city / as trout in the desert." Will bought a polluted city lot and created compost from food waste, aided by red wiggler worms. He taught kids and teens to farm and traveled the world with his message. Martin's verse text, laced with word bursts in ebullient display type, engages both readers and listeners. In his picture-book debut, Larkin provides mixed-media cityscapes that, eventually, brim with the fruits of Allen's labor and match Will's exuberance and spirit of community. From the small press Readers to Eaters, this worthy collaboration reveals how one man's vision of food for all has inspired an amazing life of service. (afterword by Will Allen, author's note, bibliography of resource materials) (Picture book/biography. 6-11) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 December

Gr 3-6--This engaging introduction to the work of Will Allen and his organization, Growing Power, should stimulate interest in gardening in schools, homes, and communities. After playing basketball professionally in Belgium, Allen settled in Wisconsin. He bought a Milwaukee city lot complete with empty greenhouses. With the help of friends and neighbors, he improved the soil through composting and expanded the growing spaces. Recipient of a MacArthur "Genius Grant," Allen has taken his message of growing and serving food locally across the United States and to other countries. Visitors from around the world come to the Milwaukee farm. Larkin's energetic illustrations reflect both hard work outdoors and the delicious results on a table loaded with good food. In a final spread, Allen waves from a rooftop garden to the Statue of Liberty, who is holding aloft a bunch of beets and cradling a basket of vegetables in her arm. His afterword urges readers to farm wherever they are and exudes the enthusiasm that has inspired others to join him. Martin includes a fine list of resources to assist prospective gardeners.--Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato

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