Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Review: The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Book: The Curious Garden
Author: Peter Brown
Illustrator: Peter Brown
Published: 2009
Source: Local Library

Once upon a time, there was a dreary city, where the air was thick with pollution and nobody ever went outside, except Liam. One day, Liam found a struggling little garden in the remains of an elevated railway. With his help, the little garden of moss and wildflowers flourishes, spreading throughout the city and bringing Liam's grey world to life again.

This book kept cropping up on my blogroll, and after reading it, I can see why. The story's very simple, but what makes it really stand out for me are the illustrations. I particularly loved the use of color to subtly bring Liam's world awake. Brown renders the initial pages with muted colors that all seem to have undertones of browns and yellows. After a couple of pages of that, the first introduction of the garden's vivid colors catch your eye, and that color spreads. Everything that the garden and Liam touch seem to brighten up.

The final spread shows the same view as the first, but it took me a few moments to realize that. The colors are completely different--the air clear and blue, the buildings covered with greenery, and most of all, people outside enjoying it. It's rather long for a crowd of preschoolers, but try this one-on-one or with early elementary. Inspired by the real story of Manhattan's High Line, The Curious Garden is a lovely fable about the power of nature to renew.

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