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The Curious Garden
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
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What's the story?
Is it any good?
The story here is original, as is the artwork that moves it along. Is the garden called curious because it's strange and almost magical, or because, given half a chance, it's a garden bent on exploring every nook and cranny of Liam's world? In either case, the way it bursts into bloom with just a bit of tender care is inspirational. And the way it awakens the entire community is a lesson for us all.
The eye-catching paintings are simple yet complicated, and amazingly expressive, especially the landscapes. In the beginning, the beige-toned city, highlighted only by black smoke puffing out into the beige sky, is the very definition of a drab, dreary industrial world. Then little by little, color returns until, like a patchwork quilt, the city is patterned, and green, and lush. And the sky behind the billowing white clouds is a vivid blue.
The best part is the hopeful lesson. Not only does the young boy change his drab world into a beautiful garden, one plant at a time, but, in the process, he also inspires people all around him to love and tend their gardens, too.
Colorful and expressive, but not over-the-top glossy, the almost surreal artwork in this book really tells the story. The cover itself, with its shrubs in the shape of birds and butterflies, promises a magical world teeming with green grasses, fields of daisies, and billowing white clouds in the blue, blue sky. And the rest of the book delivers. Painted in acrylic and gouache, the boy's city changes from a plant-less, grey industrial place to a very colorful one filled with gardens and gardeners. Sans words, several full-paged illustrations in the middle of the book are particularly amazing in color and detail.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the city. What made it so dreary? Why did most people stay inside, and why do you think the boy went out? Which do you think you would rather do?
How did Liam help the plants? What did they need, and how did he learn what to do?
What happened when Liam tended the plants? Where did they go, and how did they move so far? Do you think that would really happen? Could it?
What happened when the plants began to grow in other parts of the city? When the whole community began tending the plants, how did their city change?