A Child’s Garden – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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gardenTitle: A Child’s Garden, a story of hope

Written and illustrated by Michael Foreman

Published by Candlewick Press, 2009

Ages: 3-5

Themes: War, hope, vines, resilience

Opening line:

The boy saw it after a night of rain, a speck of green in the rubble.


A little boy lives behind barbed wire in a barren world of rubble and ruin. Behind the wire lie soldiers and cool hill he used to visit with his dad. Amongst the debris he discovers a tiny plant which her nurtures until it grows into a great vine – offering pollen for insects and shade for playtime. Can a small plant return hope to this community, or will it find itself crushed under military might?

Why I like this book:

A  beautiful story of healing and renewal in a war zone, is accessible to the very young. The transition from grey illustrations to vibrant colour accentuate the contrast between the devastation man can wreak and the resilience of the human spirit. The story would appear to take place in a Middle Eastern setting, so my only disappointment is that the children all appear to be uniformly caucasian.


I see this story as a catalyst for the discussion of war with young children. It’s gentle message and optimism make the topic approachable to even the most sensitive child.

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24 Responses to A Child’s Garden – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Heather Dent says:

    It sounds like a lovely book! I love the cover illustration with the gray toned colors beside the bright green plant. Very cool.

  2. What an interesting story. Unique. Was/Is there a war?

  3. Great pick. I really like Foreman’s books, one can see how he must have been affected by war himself. And he’s a genius with wc!

    • Joanna says:

      His illustrations and color choices are brilliant, and yes, I believe I have read about how he has personally been affected by war!

  4. What a touching book, Joanna! We so easily forget the thousands of children caught up in wars around the world. Hope is so important in that context, and any context for that matter!
    I will look this one up. . .

    • Joanna says:

      Jarm, it is such a delicate subject to discuss with children, yet they catch pictures on the tv and know of its existence. It is great to have such a gentle message of hope to offer kids.

  5. Alicia says:

    We have enjoyed (loved, really) a few garden-themed books at our house. Most recently A Curious Garden, by Peter Brown. I touched on the why-is-everyone-always-Caucasian thing in my PPBF post today, too.

  6. What a beautiful story of hope and resilience in a war-torn area. I would really like to read this gem. Sounds like it is written in such a way not to be scary — a good introduction for kids about what happens in war. I like how the plant represents hope for a better future. Great choice.

  7. What a wonderful-sounding and important book to share with children! Thank you, Joanna. Interesting that today we both shared books about gardens bringing hope, published by Candlewick Press in 2009, yet very different books.

  8. Joanna says:

    I was very happy to stumble across this one, Beth. There are very few picture books about war and this is a sensitive and optimistic portrayal!

  9. Cathy Mealey says:

    I have no idea why WALL-E popped into my head as I read your review. This looks like a sobering but hopeful title Joanna.

  10. People seem to always say, ‘oh, kids are resilient…they’ll bounce back,’ but alas children are the most sensitive of us all. They are those who hurt deepest. Thank you for sharing this, Joanna. I’ll be sure to search this out.

  11. The cover alone is enough to catch my interest. We could use a lot more books about hope. Thanks.

  12. Beautiful story, Joanna. Reminds me of the girl in the concentration camp looking out at the tree.

  13. I’m glad this book has an upbeat ending because one so needs hope in a time of war and strife. Thanks for sharing it with us, Joanna.

  14. It is a good thing we have hope, Joanna…because the world is not a happy or safe place for so many children. This is a wonderful story…and will help open the eyes of kids (and parents) who live in relative safety.

  15. Sounds like the author did a wonderful job of addressing a difficult subject. We sometimes forget how war effects children in a war zone. I think we tend to think of those children who have a parent deployed. I’m hoping my library has this!

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