A Child’s Garden – a story of hope
Author/Illustrator: Michael Foreman
Published by: Walker Books England 2009
Age: 5 – 8 years
Theme: Hope, patience, healing
Opening Line: The boy saw it after a night of rain, a speck of green in the rubble, peeping up towards the sunlight.
Synopsis: In the ravaged rubble of what is obviously the remains of war, where he lives behind a barbed-wire fence, a boy finds a tiny green sprout. Nurturing the vine, he watches it grow, until it is destroyed by soldiers from the other side. After the heavy winter, green shoots reappear; the boy and a girl on the other side of the fence cultivate the vines and create a glorious, shared garden. The hopeful symbolism carries through to the boy’s closing thoughts: “Let the soldiers return . . . Roots are deep, and seeds spread . . . One day the fence will disappear forever.” Michael Foreman’s expertly shaded pencil-and-watercolour illustrations deepen the story’s heavy messages of war and peace, moving from grim, grey-toned scenes to a vibrantly coloured picture of children walking into the hills of green grass and flowers.
Why I like it: This is an inspiring book, which shows the resilience of children in difficult times. Although the message is deep, it is through a child’s eyes that we know hope, persistence, and patience in bringing forth new life, the ability to see joy, when there is nothing all around him. The world may be at war, but there are seeds to be sown, connections to be made and love and joy to spread. It is thought provoking and will be useful in classrooms encouraging discussion. Something I noticed in other reviews I read is that – you will want to read it to your child – because it matters!
Michael Foreman was born in Suffolk in 1938. Has written and illustrated over 30 books, won rave reviews, known as one of the world’s best illustrators he has illustrated more than 100 books of other authors and won many awards.
Resources/Findings: The following YouTube link is haunting, yet you will enjoy reading this story….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4T_LzSUabw
I mentioned earlier this would be a great story for in classroom discussions and can be taken as lightly or as deeply, depending on the age level of the class. Thoughts about war, about children in war-torn countries, how they could help, through red-cross and other charities.
Here is a New Zealand website, but teachers resources here could be used or adapted easily in other countries…… http://efs.tki.org.nz/Curriculum-resources-and-tools/Environmental-Education-Guidelines/New-Zealand-s-Indigenous-Trees-Tree-Planting-Level-3
Plant projects for children…. http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Children/projects.htm
There are many other websites offering ideas and resources to teach children about plants.
For more books with resources please head on over and visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books. Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.
What a beautiful story through hard times. Beautifully written too.
Thankyou Catherine, it is very moving.
Love the message this book delivers. Beautiful story about a compassionate child trying to find hope after a war. Great choice Diane!
Thankyou Pat, glad you liked this one. It is a beautiful deep story.
this sounds like a pretty heavy book, but I like the idea of the plant never giving up. Plants and children and dogs are extremely resilient! And the illustrations are lovely. Thanks for sharing this one.
Thankyou. It can be taken as lightly or as deeply as you want it to be. That fact that the plant is new life and the child believes and wills it to survive is the beauty and joy of it. Glad you like this one.
Oh my, Diane. This story sounds beautiful and poignant and very touching. What a wonderful image of growth and healing, and a good way to approach a very difficult topic. Thank you so much for adding this one to our list!
Thankyou Susanna you are very welcome! Yep it is a difficult topic, but told delicately!
Love Michael Foreman’s books, and I didn’t know this one – thanks! BTW, I just started reading Toad Rage after your link about the NZ HCA-Medal nominees, and HAD to hand it over to a friend’s son who happens to be studying Australian history (home-schooled) at the moment – it was too funny NOT to share!
Thanks Julie, I was unaware of Michael Foreman’s books till now. Glad you enjoyed.
This looks beautiful, Diane. Thanks for sharing it!
I love these kind of books. They are so important for children to read, I believe. Thanks for pointing this one out.
Thankyou Darlene, your are welcome. Glad you liked this one.
Wow, this sounds profound and moving, yet not out of reach for kids. Thanks, Diane.
Yes Beth, it is very moving and has a great message told well for kids.
What a good book with a good message. Great pick!
Thankyou Erik, Glad you liked this one. It is a great message.
I am amazed at how many books we have this week about growing things. I feel like I missed a major holiday. Not Arbor Day, surely. Anyway, this sounds like a lovely tale.
mmm… yes I was surprised to, as I make my way through the list on Susanna’s blog. It is Labour Day here in NZ today. Yay! a day off work.
This sounds beautiful. I have added it to my library list. You did a really nice job on the review.
Thankyou so much Penny