Parents' Guide to

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi

By Jennifer Gennari, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Terrific drawings star in imaginative tale.

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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.

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