The Curious Garden
The Curious Garden

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Annotation: Liam discovers a hidden garden and with careful tending spreads color throughout the gray city.
Catalog Number: #36333
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition Date: 2009
Pages: 48
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-01547-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-24720-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-01547-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-24720-8
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2008029165
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In a city "without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind," a young, curious boy, Liam, discovers a few spindly flowers on an elevated train track. With pruning shears and water (and a few songs), he nurtures the little patch until it thrives and starts to spread. Soon, the entire track is covered in lush green. Throughout the snowy winter, the boy dreams and reads about plants, and when spring comes, his flowers inspire more gardeners all over the city. The simple words have a lyrical, rhythmic quality that will read aloud well, and they reinforce the sense that the natural world is a living, breathing character. It's the illustrations, though, that will engage kids most. Combining panels with full-page illustrations and many wordless spreads, the pages show the city's inspiring progression from a dull, dreary place to a fantastical, organic metropolis. An image of Liam on a stealth gardening mission, disguised in sunglasses, hat, and pint-size trenchcoat as he deposits sod and flowers onto a concrete strip, will amuse kids, even as it prompts them to think about unusual places gardens could grow in their own communities. An author's note about the story's real-life roots concludes. For more books about young gardeners, see the accompanying feature, "Read-alikes: Green Thumbs."
Horn Book
Liam, who lives in a slightly surreal "city without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind," turns an abandoned railway into a green paradise. When his garden overruns the city, it's cause for celebration, not complaint. The book's look-for-beauty-where-you-least-expect-it message is best delivered in a series of dramatic acrylic and gouache wordless double-page spreads featuring the fruits of Liam's labor.
Kirkus Reviews
Liam, a curious little boy who likes to be outside, lives in a city "without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind." One day, while exploring an abandoned elevated railbed, he discovers a small patch of weeds and wildflowers. After a little bit of trial and error, Liam nurses his newfound plot into a "restless" garden that explores the length of the railway and, after a dormant winter, begins to find its way into the city below. Brown's flat, faintly retro graphics make a vigorous accompaniment to his fey text, which personifies the "curious garden" with appealing earnestness. In an author's note he describes the greening of Manhattan's abandoned Highline, which inspired this hopeful little paean to the persistence of growing things in the dreariest places. (Picture book. 3-7)
School Library Journal
Gr 13 "There once was a city without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind." Thus begins an eco-fantasy in which Liam climbs a stairway leading to abandoned railway tracks and discovers wildflowers and plants struggling to grow. Initially an inept gardener, the boy improves with time, and the garden begins to prosper. He continues his work after the winter snows, and diverse city residents of all ages join in the effort. Plants that spill over onto the letters of the title page foreshadow the glorious flowering to come. But first, readers experience, via Brown's framed acrylic and gouache spreads and vignettes, a smog-filled metropolis bereft of outdoor inhabitants except for Liam, who doggedly explores its dreary streets. Flat, stylized paintings depict the gradual greening of the city. Dark skies gradually become a strikingly blue home for birds; red buildings appear amid the gray ones; and the stark beginning endpapers transform into lush green flower-filled pages at the end. In a lengthy note, Brown explains that this fantasy is based on his real-life discovery of the defunct High Line elevated railway in New York City where he found plants growing amid the rubble. While the story lacks tension and is at times sentimental, the art is spectacular and the book might inspire children to engage in small projects to improve their own neighborhoods. Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
Word Count: 559
Reading Level: 4.4
Interest Level: P-2
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.4 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 129632 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.5 / points:1.0 / quiz:Q52928
Lexile: AD840L
Guided Reading Level: M
Fountas & Pinnell: M

This New York Times bestselling modern classic explores the perennial topic of environmentalism in an urban world, from the creator of The Wild Robot and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

One boy's quest for a greener world... one garden at a time.

While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world.

This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.

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