The Peculiar Blooms of Posey Avenue
When eleven-year-old Marigold’s perfectly happy life is disrupted by her mother’s marriage to Ray Johnson, Marigold gains a step-dad and step-brother she never wanted. She escapes her new family by volunteering to clean out her recently deceased grandmother’s apartment, where she discovers strange and mysterious plants from her grandmother’s work as a botanist. Marigold learns the plants have many magical uses, but when she accidentally puts her parents in a deep slumber, potentially forever, she must work together with her step-brother to save them before it’s too late.
Full color lower middle grade novel, approximately 200 pages
The Time of Green Magic by Hillary McKay, Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca
It’s always been Marigold and Mom against the world. When her perfectly happy life is disrupted by her mother’s marriage to Ray Johnson, eleven-year-old Marigold gains a stepfather who tries to bond with her, and a stepbrother, Booker, who keeps playing pranks on her. All she wants is her mom to herself. Instead, she escapes her new family by volunteering to clean out her recently deceased grandmother’s apartment. She’s never met her grandmother but grew up hearing stories about how she was a mad botanist who only cared about her work.
In the apartment, Marigold discovers strange and mysterious plants on every surface and a notebook about their care. She learns of the plants' magical abilities while helping a neighbor whose house is infiltrated by wallflowers. On her way home, she meets Effie, her grandmother’s next-door neighbor and friend, who suffers from dementia and confuses Marigold with her grandmother. Marigold helps Effie and rushes home, excited to tell her mom about the plants. She arrives to find her mom out with Ray and her slippers full of pudding.
She appeases her jealousy and disdain by keeping the plants a secret and uses them to prank Booker back instead. The next day, she has him slipping and sliding from the oops-a-daisies, covered in an unbearable stench from the stinkwort, and eating a miniaturized lunch from the shrinking violets. Her plan backfires when Booker steals the notebook in retaliation.
Marigold is determined to get it back. She finds a plant called Slumber Beans and hopes it will allow her to search Booker’s room while he takes a little nap. Instead, she accidentally puts her parents into a deep slumber. When Booker sheepishly returns the notebook, they learn that after twenty-four hours, their parents will stay asleep forever. Even worse, the words describing the antidote are smeared and unreadable.
Horrified, Booker and Marigold fight about who is to blame. They storm off to find solutions on their own. Unsuccessful and out of options, Booker apologizes for all the pranks. He explains that he has always had trouble making friends. Marigold breaks down, devastated by her actions and afraid that she might lose her mom because of her jealousy. She and Booker decide to work together and head to the apartment to look for the antidote.
They arrive to find caution tape over the door and a letter from the Peculiar Plant Bureau (PPB) informing them that the apartment is restricted until further notice. Desperate to help their parents, Booker and Marigold ignore the letter and enter the apartment, setting off an alarm. Panicked, they grab leaves and flowers from as many plants as they can before Mr. Murk from the PPB arrives, confiscating the notebook and most of the plants.
Hearing the commotion, Effie comes in, distraught. Together, they formulate a plan to get the plants back. With the help of the hairy hyacinth, Booker and Marigold grow beards and sneak into the PPB laboratory. But when Marigold is discovered by Mr. Murk, Booker sacrifices himself in order to allow her to escape with the notebook. Shocked at his help and kindness, Marigold refuses to leave Booker behind. She creates an indoor thunderstorm using the thunderbloom leaves, and they escape with Effie driving the getaway car.
Back at the apartment, Booker and Marigold give Effie tea made from the leaves of the forget-me-not, hoping that she will remember something that might help them. Her memory returns, but Effie doesn’t know the antidote. She does, however, remember a letter she has been keeping for Marigold from her grandmother.
In the letter, her grandmother explains that she only stayed away to keep them safe from the PPB, an organization of evil botanists. Now that she is gone, she hopes Marigold will continue her important work. She tells Marigold that if she is ever in trouble, the most powerful healing plant has always been hidden with her. Marigold is shocked, realizing that she is talking about George, the plant “pet” she and her mother have had since Marigold was born. She and Booker rush home and give the leaves to their parents.
They wake up, completely unaware of what has happened, but glad that Marigold and Booker are finally getting along. Holding the letter from her grandmother in her pocket, Marigold tells them that she and Booker are going to keep working on her grandmother’s apartment together.