It isn’t easy for Tori Takahashi and Polly Griffin to be best friends. There are so many differences—how they look, where they live, and how they feel about things. Yet, the thoughtful ways of one and the enthusiasm of the other make for a winning combination. Every week Tori and her mother ride the trolley through Berkeley to Polly’s house where Mrs. Takahashi cleans and sews for the Griffins. Tori delights in this magical world, especially planning adventures and sharing secrets with Polly in her bamboo garden. The hot, dry summer of 1923 makes the stalks taller and stronger, just like the girls’ friendship. Surprisingly, their biggest adventure is about to begin. All the signs are there: the strange weather, the troubling news delivered by a disagreeable neighbor girl, and a hobo’s remarkable gift. Kids nine and up who love The Penderwicks (Birdsall) or Al Capone Does My Shirts (Choldenko) will snatch up The Bamboo Garden, a story of friendship, prejudice and courage.