The Vegetable Museum

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

Chloe and her dad have recently moved all the way across the country.  Chloe’s grandfather, whom she had never met, had just had a stroke and her dad decided to go help out.  Her mom stayed at home.  Chloe thinks it’s a temporary move but as time goes on she starts to realize that life will never be the same.  Meanwhile, she is developing a relationship with her grandfather and learns about his special garden of heirloom vegetables - each unique and with its own story.  But when her grandfather dies who will take over the garden and what is the secret her father has been hiding all these years.

I really enjoyed this book.  I think it would pair well with a nonfiction book about plant diversity and seed libraries.  It isn’t often that I say this but I wish it had been a tad longer.  When I got near the end I was a bit taken aback by how quickly it resolved.  I almost thought I skipped a chapter or two.  Otherwise, this was really good.
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***I received a copy of this novel through NetGalley

THE VEGETABLE MUSEUM by Michelle Mulder is a charming middle-grade novel exploring the importance of knowing where we came from along with the process of grief. The story is told through the perspective of thirteen-year-old Chloë, whose entire life has recently been uprooted by her parents’ strained marriage. She and her father move to Victoria, a small town in Canada, to look after her ill grandfather, Uli. 

This novel absolutely delivers on the promise that its description offers. The story is lovely and the writing is fairly raw. It reminds me a lot of Nina LaCour’s WE ARE OKAY with a middle-grade twist. Halfway through the novel, Uli dies of a stroke and the readers gets to watch as Chloë processes the loss. She struggles with the fact she’s grieving someone she didn’t really know, and how much she’s missed out on by not knowing her grandfather until now. She chooses to get closer to him through her efforts to save his garden—a collection of seeds going back decades in her grandfather’s life. Chloë is a brilliant protagonist and her voice carries the story in a real and impactful way that made me a bit disappointed the novel was so short.

The pacing and length is what earned this novel three stars instead of four or five. There are a lot of plot points to juggle: Uli’s life story, Chloë’s relationship with her dad, her dad’s relationship with Uli, the parents' struggling marriage, the impact of the move on Chloë, her friendship with her neighbor Nikko, saving the garden, and even the odd enemy relationship Chloë has with the local snob-slash-bully, Slater. For a middle-grade novel, this is a lot to swallow in one-hundred-and-some pages. At one point in the novel, Slater and his goons try to beat up Chloë and Nikko—for NO REASON. This event happens and it traumatizes Chloë briefly, but soon she’s over it and it’s never brought up again. Not to mention, by the end of the novel, Chloë isn’t even the hero. She doesn’t save her grandfather’s seed collection. It turns out, Uli donated his seeds to a seed project. Chloë’s efforts were entirely in vain, which was a huge disappointment considering how much she went through in her fight to preserve them.

This novel had a lot of great elements, but they were sorely neglected by poor pacing. THE VEGETABLE MUSEUM needed a good thirty-ish more pages to truly be a satisfying read for me. I’d absolutely recommend it to a young person interested in gardening or processing loss, but it’s not what I would read if I’m just searching for a good book to cuddle up with.
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This book is a sweet middle grade story about a girl named Chloe getting to know more about her grandfather, Uli, through his miraculous garden in his backyard. Her grandfather spent decades collecting seeds from people around the world, with every seed containing a story and a piece of history. Through these tales, Chloe comes to understand her family just a little bit more clearly. 

This story focuses on heavier topics, such as divorce and grief. The Vegetable Museum would be a great book for a reader who may be currently experiencing these things themselves. I found the garden enchanting to read about, though I do with there was a little bit more about the garden featured in the story. 

This would have been a 5 star review, but I felt as though some of the pacing felt too quick. I would have liked about twenty more pages to really feel satisfied with how it ended.
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Chloe is a thirteen-year-old girl who has to leave behind her home in Montreal when her parents decide to separate. She moves with her dad to Victoria where her grandfather, Uli, lives. Chloe agrees to help Uli take care of his garden. 

For decades Uli has collected seeds for different vegetables from people in the community. Some of the seeds have been handed down through generations and come from all different countries. "The result is a garden full of unusual and endangered produce, from pink broccoli to blue kale to purple potatoes."

As the story goes along, Chloe finds herself trying to learn more about her father and grandfather's troubled relationship and trying to find a way to preserve her grandfather's legacy by saving his garden.

I wasn't sure about this book at first. I was worried that it would be mostly about vegetables. Luckily it is! But it's also about a teenage girl, about leaving behind her home, difficulties with parents, multi-generational families, saving the environment, contributing to the community...and so many other things that kids and young adults deal with and want to read about. 

I really loved this book because it started out as a simple story but you really find yourself being invested in what happens to Chloe and these precious vegetables that Uli has collected. There is a really fun story along the way. I think it is definitely worth a read!

My only complaint about the book is that it isn't longer so that I could enjoy even more of Chloe's story!
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I think this would make a great read for kids 10 to 14. I am sure many children will be able to relate to the story, parental separations/divorces, moving in with relatives, or even moving across the state of country, leaving friends behind etc... I like the way the garden sort of brings the generations together. I love heirloom vegetable gardening and I thought it was a nice intro to them. May even inspire a young teen to take up gardening! I liked the characters in this book, too. Strong and resourceful, kind and compassionate. May make a good winter break read. Could make a great stocking stuffer for the right kid.
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Mulder's story of Chloe and how her life changed after her parents separated, is lovely in many regards. Finally having the chance to learn more about her Grandfather, learning about gardening of love, learning how to ride a bike, and discovering that sometimes it is difficult to forgive are just a few of the lovely parts. 

For me, the book was slow, sluggish, and lacked a depth to the main character that would have made her like her more. Thank you to Orca Book Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.
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ARC Copy...highly suggestible if you're into gardening especially of the unusual-special kind, the city of Victoria (it was really well depicted and felt familiar...having studied at UVIC), and the importance of community.
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This book was a perfect middle grade novel. It had everything that I love about middle grade books. It was about family, friendship, believing in something, learning about your history, growing up. Chloe has moved with her dad and isn't thrilled about it. She is getting the chance to know her grandfather who introduces her to gardening and heirloom seeds. Watching the garden grow was the same as watching Chloe grow throughout the story. I really liked this and can't wait for others to read it as well.
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