Parents' Guide to

The Night Gardener

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Mysterious gardener brightens gray town in magical story.

The Night Gardener Poster Image

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In a lovely, generous-spirited book about the transformative power of art, a depressed town is changed forever after it's visited by a mysterious gardener who clips the trees into topiary animals. This debut picture book by two Canadian brothers who worked together on both art and story is spectacularly illustrated. Set on Grimloch Lane in an unspecified time with monotone period detail that evokes Dorothea Lange's black-and-white photographs from the Great Depression, we see cracks in the sidewalks, old tires littering overgrown yards, splintering fences, and people who are hunched and cheerless. But once the gardener clips the trees into topiary animals, color arrives and, with it, wonder, industry, and whimsy. The people paint their houses, fix their roofs, fly kites, have picnics, and are even inspired to hang Chinese lanterns by the topiary of the dragon. It's a gentle, magical tale of hope and cheer.

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