30 Jan 2012

A garden story for children


I shall apologise in advance to any readers who already know this book; I'm only very recently aware of it and delighted to have found it. I love both reading and gardening so, when I find a book that encompasses both of these loves, I want to share it.  I found this book, Rose's Garden, in the children's section of my local library.  It was the illustrations that caught my eye; they're reminiscent of Quentin Blake's work (a favourite illustrator) but, in fact, are the work of the author, Peter H Reynolds.  I would hope that all children love stories and being read to and I find it's a particularly nice way to start or finish a spot of gardening with children.  For one thing, it makes sure you have their attention, whether you want to tell them what's planned or whether it's time to stop, clear up and go.

I have a small collection of really nice children's books about gardening, some that I enjoyed reading to my son when he was younger ('Oliver's Vegetables', for example) and some more recent finds. This one is definitely a keeper (as in, I'll be buying it, not purloining it from the library - heaven forbid), if only because it reminds me of myself (in the sense that I have a vision of how colourful the garden here could be - but I don't travel in a fantastic teapot, more's the pity.)

The story is a simple one about Rose, who collects seeds on her travels. When her teapot is full up, it's time to plant her garden and she finds herself in a busy city.

"This little patch needs some colour."
She chooses a forgotten stretch of earth and gets to work, imagining what a colourful place it could be. On returning to the teapot to get her seeds, she finds the birds have eaten them, leaving just a small handful behind. She sows these seeds and patiently waits through the seasons but to no avail.

"A girl approached with a present. It was a paper flower."
Word spreads of Rose's faith in her garden and children of many cultures bring paper flowers that they've made for her garden. Gradually the garden fills with glorious colour from thousands of paper flowers.  Then, one day, Rose hears a bee buzzing and realises that her seeds have grown and real flowers are blooming among the paper ones.

"Her faith had gathered a garden – and the stories of a city."

Lovely, isn't it?

I like to think everyone who gardens is doing exactly this: making friends, building communities and having faith that their work will result in colour and beauty. I'd love to believe that this story will continue to be read to children and inspire a future generation of gardeners.

16 comments:

  1. Teapot travel would be great fun especially on mornings like this and as long as there was no tea in the pot. Will look out for this book on my travels Caro - it sounds as if would make excellent 'grown up' reading too. For some reason the links you have included are not working for me but off to google the other title you mentioned.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know the links were failing Anna. I've now put them right. Hope you manage to find a copy of the book, it's very charming and, yes, I think there's a message in that for everyone, regardless of age. xx

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  2. Oh wow, I've never heard of this. What a lovely story just the sort of thing I love. I must get a copy!!

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    1. Lorna, I think you'll enjoy the illustrations too!

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  3. I'd never heard of it so - thank you - I shall track it down!

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    1. Dawn, Hope you manage to find the book - it was published in 2011, Walker Books. I was the first person to borrow it from the library (ha ha, always a joy to be first!) and thought it would be a good starting point for gardening and other craft activities.

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  4. Such a lovely story. It would make a lovely gift for a lucky child.

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    1. Jo, I agree. Also a lovely story to keep on the bookshelf to read to grandchildren - and a good talking point.

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  5. Sounds like a lovely story - I have a bit of a soft spot for childrens books so I'll keep my eye out for it when I am 'book foraging'

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    1. Don't know if you'll find it when foraging, Elaine. It was published late last year. But I'd hope that if you mentioned it to your bookseller, they'd get a copy in for you. (I, too, have a soft spot for children's books.)

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  6. Sounds a lovely book. I recently got the Secret Garden from the library. I never read it as a child and thought I should. I really enjoyed it. My favourite books are the Brambly Hedge series. I just love the illustrations. I loved the idea of the lovely comfy homes for mice hidden away in tree trunks. There was something very magical about those books. Wellywoman

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    1. Welly, it seems we have a lot in common! I absolutely love Brambly Hedge - little Wilbur with his backpack, Mr and Mrs Crustybread ... aawww! I haven't read the Secret Garden for years, it was one of my favourites as a child; You've prompted me to find it again in the library, thanks!

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  7. What a delightful post! Flighty xx

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    1. Thank you, Flighty. As a fellow book buff, I thought you might enjoy this! xx

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  8. Sounds like a delightful book - a a great vision for gardening in an urban setting.

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    1. My thoughts entirely, Janet! I would hope that the story would inspire children to think about concrete versus greenery and what can be achieved if you put your mind to it. Also, good lessons to be learned about having patience .... !

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Caro x

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