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Review: Finn's Garden Friends by Rachel Lawston and Via Lisirin

A stunning picture book which teaches us to care for and enjoy nature wherever we are.

Finn and mum have moved from the countryside to live with Grandpa Sid who lives in a flat in the city. Finn is finding it hard to adjust to his new home because there is no garden and the park is very far away - everything in the city just seems grey and gloomy.

One day, Grandpa Sid takes Finn to his allotment and that is when everything changes! Finn is super happy to see all of the tiny allotment gardens all together in rows and is eager to help Grandpa Sid collect weeds for the compost heap, which is where they discover a hibernating hedgehog.

Day after day, they visit the allotment and Grandpa Sid urges Finn to be patient as he waits for her to wake up. When she does, Finn and Grandpa start to leave her food and soon she comes along with five little hoglets.

Soon they discover that a fox is gobbling up the food before the hedgehog has a chance to eat it. Frustrated, Finn tries to keep the fox away, but Grandpa reminds Finn that the fox needs to eat too. They build a special hedgehog feeding station, but Finn can't stop thinking about the hungry fox, so he makes a plan to help her as well.

This gorgeous story is a great reminder that wherever you are, you can find plants and animals around you and there are so many important discussions you can have while reading. Mum, Grandpa and Finn are a great intergenerational family and the relationship between grandfather and grandson is portrayed very sweetly. Finn's discovery of the animals and his desire to help them teaches us a lot about caring for the natural world and its inhabitants. His Grandpa's reminder that the fox is also just trying to survive and feed itself is an important message of empathy, with a gorgeous outcome at the end.

The delicate illustrations are so detailed and exquisite that it makes you want to go outside immediately and seek out plants and animals wherever you might be. There is a brilliant section at the end full of great facts (did you know that hedghog poo is sparkly?!), which also gives us advice on how we might help hedgehogs and foxes in our area. One of the most fun parts is the gorgeous page of animals and plants that have been included throughout the book which challenges the reader to go back and spot them all in Grandpa Sid's allotment. I thought this would be particularly appealing to struggling readers and emerging readers who will get a lot of enjoyment out of the visual aspects of the story. I would also love to take that out on a nature walk!

This beautiful book is a glorious celebration of nature that will encourage readers to look around for plants and animals wherever they are and think about their impact on the natural world. I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the Instagram tour for this fabulous book and received an advance PDF copy in exchange for my honest review. It is published on the 28th of April by Pikku Publishing and I can't wait to add it to my collection.

Pre-order the book:

Read an interview with Rachel Lawston on the Picturebook Snob Blog.

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