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Review: The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

Little GardenerThe Little Gardener
By Emily Hughes

Flying Eye Books

ISBN: 9781909263437
Grades PreK-2
Out August 11, 2015

*Best New Book*

Find it at:
Schuler Books | Your Library

To quote Great American Poet and Suggestive Dancer, Usher Raymond: “These are my confessions.”

I arrived a bit late to the quiet book party. I’m there now, but it took me a while to fully appreciate titles that display straightforward tenderness. I think in general people are more immediately drawn to books with big characters or big laughs. But the more I read books with kids, the more I realize the power of the quiet book. And The Little Gardener is the perfect example. It has the look and feel of a classic.

Little Gardener 1

Tending to a garden is tough for a full grown person – for a thumb-sized man it is nearly impossible.

Little Gardener 2

The gardener toils round the clock with little to show for his efforts. He wishes for help. But among all the weeds, there is a bright spot – a lone flower.

It was alive and wonderful.

It gave the gardener hope and it made him work even harder.

When the gardener finally rests his weary bones, a girl spots the flower. It gives her hope too. She decides to help, and the gardener awakes to see his his joy thriving.

Little Gardener 3

What Hughes does with these colored-pencil illustrations is impressive. Brimming with details and earthy vibrance, they are more than up to the task of carrying the story visually. The garden setting also lends itself to some “seek and find” moments, when young readers will be looking closely to spot the gardener among the flora.

It’s a little story about some pretty big emotions: persistence, dedication, and love. It’s also a book that might make you cry happy tears during story time. A beauty.

Review copy from the publisher.

Also reviewed by picturebooksblogger.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.