Maxine and the Greatest Garden Ever


4-8 years

  • STEM
  • Community
  • Friendship
  • Social-Emotional Learning
  • Gardening
  • Problem-Solving

Ruth Spiro & Holly Hatam


Maxine and Leo are best friends (along with Milton the goldfish) and also complete opposites. Leo is gentle and creative, and Maxine is practical and mathematically minded.

I love the way this story not only bucks gender stereotypes, but how it focuses on two friends that just want to help their community and build the best garden ever. Unfortunately, lots of critters also think their garden is the best garden ever and munch on all of the plants! When Maxine and Leo disagree about how to keep animals out of the garden, they begin to argue. Will they be able to patch things up and help save the vegetables for their neighbors?

I appreciate the juxtaposition of STEM learning, persistence, and social-emotional learning together. It places emphasis on creativity and friendship over success, even though the main goal is helping others. The story models interpersonal dynamics and conflict resolution. Maxine and Leo feel their feelings and then think about the other one, showing that friendship is important above competition and having the best idea. Make sure you check out the icon in the corner of the photos of this book, it demarcates all of my themed posts leading up to Earth Day!

This book was kindly sent by Holly’s publicist, Angela, and published by Penguin Random House. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to review it. All opinions and decision to review is my own!

Ruth Spiro

In addition to the Baby Loves Science series, you may know Ruth as the author of the award-winning Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist, or as the Founder of National Bubble Gum Day. Ruth is also a freelance writer, and her articles and essays have been published in magazines including FamilyFunThe Writer, and CHILD. Ruth has contributed stories to popular anthologies such as The Right Words at the Right Time, edited by Marlo Thomas, and several Chicken Soup for the Soul titles.

Holly Hatam

Holly Hatam is a picture book maker, greeting card designer, and a textile engineer. She is also the #1 New York Times Bestselling illustrator of Dear Girl. Her other books include, Tree Song, Jack (Not Jackie) and The Acadia Files. Holly lives in Whitby, Ontario where she can be found hugging trees with her husband Stephen and son Linden, stuffing her pantry full of tea and sticking her nose in a book.

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