The Garden of Abdul Gasazi



Terrific drawings star in imaginative tale.

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the lesson of what happens when one disregards warnings is soft-pedaled.

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What's the story?

Positively No Dogs Allowed, reads the sign in front of the magician's garden, but Fritz breaks free from Alan and disappears among the mysterious topiary bushes and paths. What happens to the dog? Chris Van Allsburg's award-winning drawings lead readers to the answer.


Is it any good?


Readers may be confused about what Allsburg is trying to say: Is this about the consequences of breaking the rules, or is it simply about a child's sense of enchantment? Maybe both.

Spooky houses and gardens populate every child's neighborhood, and in this story, the hero must face his fears to retrieve the bad dog he's responsible for. The lesson of what happens when one disregards warnings is soft-pedaled. 

However, Van Allsburg's drawings are clearly terrific. Drawn in black and white and all shades between, the pictures have depth and grandeur -- like the one of the magician's house, which rises high into the sky. Van Allsburg has captured the story's eeriness with shadowed paths, looming topiary, and an imposing magician.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the consequences of breaking the rules. Kids: When have you broken the rules? What happened?

Book details

Author:Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrator:Chris Van Allsburg
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:January 1, 1979
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old November 9, 2011

not a perfect van allsburg book (with the usage of drugs), but a great one

If there's one book that stands out from all of C.V. Allsburg's others, it's Abdul Gasazi. This book surprisingly got a 4th-grade level at my old school, although even the most take-time-to-comprehend kind of people could leaf it through in not even five minutes. A good book with the same amazing illustrations as usual, with twists and turns along the way that finally settle at the bewildering ending. But there is some drug use in the book. In one illustration, Abdul the magician is seen smoking like any cartoon smoker would: smoke travels from the cigarette like a chimney, and he puffs circle after circle of smoke from his mouth. But this doesn't stop the book from being a major success that people of all ages should enjoy and adore.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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