The Gardener

Common Sense Media says

A tale of hope to treasure.




Caldecott Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that in this book set during the Depression, a girl has talent for seeing and creating beauty.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Because of her family's financial woes during the Depression, Lydia Grace is sent to work in Uncle Jim's bakery in the city. In her upbeat letters, Lydia Grace shares her joy as she fills her uncle's empty window boxes and makes new friends.

Is it any good?


Lydia Grace arrives in a gloomy train station, shown in a wordless double-page spread that communicates perfectly her smallness in the vast city. Undaunted by the change in her surroundings and by her unsmiling uncle, she immediately sets about planting flowers. When she finds a secret place and devises a plan, the excitement builds. We are as eager as Lydia Grace to share the secret.

David Small's watercolors with pen and ink perfectly complement the text, highlighting details such as a cat's scrawniness and the bare light bulbs in the kitchen. Lydia Grace's talent for seeing and creating beauty makes THE GARDENER a tale of hope to treasure. Children will be excited to see Lydia Grace create beauty from squalor, to see if she can get Uncle Jim to smile, and to see the surprise conclusion which avoids cliche.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the way Lydia Grace brightens the world of the people around her. If you were in her shoes, do you think you'd be able to be so upbeat? Where do you find beauty when life seems dark?

Book details

Author:Sarah Stewart
Illustrator:David Small
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:October 1, 1997
Number of pages:32
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

This review of The Gardener was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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, okay 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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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byAmanda_Amador April 29, 2011


I loved it! It was very interesting and a great thriller i was determind to read all of it i never put the book down even for a second. When the book came to a end im hoping theres going to be a part two,it was also very romantic but also very thrilling it kept me on the ege of my seat waiting to see what was going to happen next! Im also hopeing many other kids and parents will read this book and witness many exiting,romantic,thrillers of all time!
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 10 years old March 1, 2010

it is very nice

i like this book because it is very intersting and intertaining book.Everybody should read this book
What other families should know
Great role models
Adult Written byCindy123 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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