Karishma, my 6 year old neighbor at Bridge Meadows, was delighted when The Little Gardner by Emily Hughes was published. Hughes’ book Wild is one of Karishma’s favorite and she helped me review it here. Now she has another favorite book.
The Little Gardneris different from Wild on the surface, but it still shows the affinity children have with nature and wild things. It features a very small boy who lives in a very big garden. He works and works in the garden.
It’s his home and from the garden he gets everything he needs. He is friends with worms and snails. He tries to tend to his beloved plants and they depend on him, but he can’t manage on his own.
The one thing he seems to have the most success with is a flower, a magnificent zinnia, which isn’t something he can eat, but it brings him happiness and gives him hope. It means everything to the little gardener.
A big girl notices this flower. She lives on the edge of the garden and she sees that the garden needs help. Inspired by the beauty of the zinnia, she begins to tend to the garden, too. This help is the bit of magic that the garden needs to flourish.
Children are often faced with tasks that are too difficult for them, no matter how hard they try. This story subtly validates the experience of failure while keeping a sense of hope blooming. I’m very impressed at how Hughes addresses the deep feelings of insecurity children have. In The Little Gardner, she shows how the efforts little ones make, even if they don’t entirely succeed, inspire those bigger than they are.
In her book Wild, Hughes brought out the idea that keeping a bit of wildness in your soul may not be such a bad thing. In The Little Gardner, she shows how befriending nature and tending to a garden keeps hope in your heart.
Karishma and I both loved this book. The illustrations are of dense and we notice something new each time we read it. We like that the girl who helps save the garden has dark skin. As in Wild, Karishma likes to read the last line of the book first, and see how important a little gardener, or any little person can be. It helps her navigate a sometimes confusing world. It’s also inspired her to water and talk to plants during this hot summer. She can’t wait to see the next book by Emily Hughes.
This book was published by Flying Eye Books and is beautifully bound, with a flower printed in white on the red binding. You can see more of their books here.
Here’s a video about my community Bridge Meadows in Portland, Oregon, which is set up to help children get adopted out of foster care:
Thanks for reading my blog. Now go read a book – in a garden if at all possible.