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Tokyo Digs a Garden

Written by Jon-Erik Lappano

& Kellen Hatanaka

  • 32 Pages
  • 9781554987986
  • 11" x 8.375"
  • from grade PK to grade 3
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / General
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Lifestyles / City Life



Publication Date March 01, 2016

Winner of the 2016 Governor General's Literary Award for Young People's Literature — Illustrated Books

Tokyo lives in a small house between giant buildings with his family and his cat, Kevin. For years, highways and skyscrapers have been built up around the family’s house where once there were hills and trees. Will they ever experience the natural world again?

One day, an old woman offers Tokyo seeds, telling him they will grow into whatever he wishes. Tokyo and his grandfather are astonished when the seeds grow into a forest so lush that it takes over the entire city overnight. Soon the whole city has gone wild, with animals roaming where cars once drove. But is this a problem to be surmounted, or a new way of living to be embraced?

With Tokyo Digs a Garden, Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka have created a thoughtful and inspiring fable of environmentalism and imagination.

Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award, Young People's Literature – Illustrated Books 2016

Selected for the TD Summer Reading Club Top Recommended Reads 2016

Selected for the Toronto Public Library's First and Best List 2016

Selected for the CCBC Best Books for Children and Teens, starred selection 2016

Selected for the CBC Best Books of 2016 2016

Short-listed for the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award 2016

Long-listed for the Green Earth Book Award 2017

Short-listed for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award 2017

Short-listed for the Sakura Award 2017


Jon-Erik Lappano
Jon-Erik Lappano is an environmental educator, storyteller, and creative producer with curiosity and love of all things wild. He lives in Guelph, Canada, with his young and growing family. This is his first book.

Kellen Hatanaka
Kellen Hatanaka is a designer and illustrator who lives in Toronto, Canada, with his wife, Kiersten. He is also the author and illustrator of Work: An Occupational ABC and Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites..


". . . a thing of beauty." The New York Times

"...fantastic...Highly recommended" Globe and Mail

"The text is neither too simple nor too complex but just what is needed to relate this imaginative tale of environmentalism." School Library Journal, review

"A challenging 21st-century fable sure to spark discussions." Kirkus Reviews

"TOKYO DIGS A GARDEN will resonate with many urban children and their parents who may seek the rural outdoors whenever possible." CM Magazine

"In this haunting modern-day fairy tale from newcomer Lappano, nature, long pushed out of a city, pushes back." Publishers Weekly

"The resulting absolutely delightful sustainability-manifesto is made even more stupendous with Hatanaka’s witty, entertaining, sly illustrations . . ." BookDragon

"Kids of all ages will respond to the deep messages embedded in the fertile soil of Tokyo Digs A Garden." Midwest Book Review