The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art
The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art
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Annotation: Documents the story of the world's largest visionary environment, the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, describing how in the aftermath of the partition of India in 1947, artist Nek Chand Saini cleared a section of jungle and stockpiled odds and ends that he created into a secret, sophisticated labyrith of paths, mosaics, and patterns.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #148829
Format: Publisher's Hardcover (Large Print)
No other formats available
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Illustrator: Nivola, Claire A.,
Pages: 48
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-7636-7475-3
ISBN 13: 978-0-7636-7475-5
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2018933653
Dimensions: 29 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
In this biography of the remarkable folk artist Nek Chand Saini eator of the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, "the largest visionary art environment in the world" dia is depicted as a romantic rural utopia, filled with folklore, animals, curvaceous rivers, and happy farmers. As an adult, displaced by war and politics, Nek Chand devised an uncanny plan to recreate the place he once knew as home. He built a rock garden, sculpting walls, animals, and people out of mosaic, recycled materials, and river rocks. His project was hidden in the forest on the edge of town and kept a secret for 13 years, until it was discovered by the government and threatened with destruction. Fortunately, the citizens of Chandigarh and some well-connected officials supported the garden, and Nek Chand was recognized and rewarded. Despite a few gaps in the historical narrative, this biography is valuable for its sheer novelty. Delicate watercolor illustrations bring it to life with texture and detail, and a large gatefold photograph of the actual Rock Garden is a special treat.
Horn Book
Rosenstock's moving picture-book celebration of folk artist Nek Chand (creator of the Rock Garden of Chandigarh) opens in an idyllic village in Punjab. After the Partition of India in 1947, resettled refugee Chand assuages homesickness by (illegally) clearing jungle land and building an ever-increasing number of sculptures and mosaic walls out of recycled materials. Nivola's folk-art sensibility befits the simplicity of Chand's art. Bib.
Publishers Weekly
As a child in his poor village in South Asia-s Punjab region, Nek Chand found every opportunity to create art from salvaged materials. Partition in 1947 forced Chand to leave his home for the modern Indian city of Chandigarh, -a sharp-edged city of colorless concrete.- Seeking to create a home more like the one he left, Chand constructed a hidden forest sanctuary from stones and discarded objects, which he would keep secret for 15 years. Though Chand-s kingdom was eventually discovered, the community embraced his artistry, despite ongoing threats to demolish it. Chand-s quiet resolve comes through strongly in Nivola-s understated paintings, and a dramatic gatefold reveals photographs of his kingdom today. Rosenstock-s gratifying story conveys how art has the capacity to revitalize and restore. An author-s note shares additional details about Chand, his creation, and the ongoing struggle to preserve it. Ages 7-10. Author-s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Feb.)

School Library Journal
Gr 25 The story of artist and visionary Nek Chand, who turned a story of exile and social division into a beautiful artistic tribute to India and its people. Chand was raised in the village of Barian Kalan and spent his childhood in the company of ancient stories, laughter, planting gardens, and roaming freely in the jungles and open fields. After the great partition of 1947, Chand fled as a refugee from his home in Pakistan to his family's new home in India. Heartbroken, he dreamt of a place he and his family could truly belong. Eventually he found a hidden jungle on the north end of Chandigarh and began to create a wonderland of art from scraps, stones, rusty pipes, cracked water pots, and boulders. He revived the plants, built winding paths, and shaped the recycled materials into animals, sculptures, and archways. He kept it a secret for 15 years, until the government found it and threatened to shut it down. But the people of Chandigarh had fallen in love with the secret kingdom, and won the fight to preserve it. To this day, the kingdom remains the largest visionary art site in the world. Watercolor illustrations bring life to the vision of Chand and kingdom of magic and imagination. VERDICT A captivating biographical narrative, this book is an ideal choice for expanding any visual artsfocused picture book collection. Natalie Romano, Denver Public Library
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (10/1/17)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Horn Book (8/1/18)
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (12/1/17)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 946
Reading Level: 5.2
Interest Level: 2-5
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.2 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 195125 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:10.4 / points:3.0 / quiz:Q73334
Lexile: 1100L
Guided Reading Level: J

A 2019 Orbis Pictus Honor Book

The incredible story of the world’s largest visionary environment: the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, kept secret by outsider artist Nek Chand for fifteen years.


After the partition of India in 1947, Nek Chand Saini settled in the city of Chandigarh, with nothing but stories brought from his homeland. Dismayed at his stark new surroundings, Nek began collecting river rocks, broken glass, and cracked water pots found on the roadside. He cleared a section of jungle and for seven years he stockpiled odds and ends. They were castoffs and rubbish to everyone else, but to Nek, they were treasures. He began to build a labyrinth of curving paths, mosaics, and repeating patterns: his very own tribute to the winding village of his youth, a hidden land of stories. Nek kept his kingdom secret for fifteen years, until a government crew stumbled upon it and sought to destroy it. But local fans agreed in awe: the Rock Garden had to be protected. Author Barb Rosenstock introduces readers to the outsider artist’s stunning creation, while Claire A. Nivola’s illustrations bring to life the land’s natural beauty and the surreal world Nek coaxed from his wild landscape.


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