Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Favorite Picture Books: The Gardener

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, pictures by David Small

This book, set during the Great Depression, is written through letters from Lydia Grace to her family members. Her parents are struggling, so she travels to the city to live with her uncle. She'll be helping him in his bakery, but what she wants to do most is plant and tend gardens.

Her arrival in the city is gloomy indeed. The train station is all grays and blacks. Her uncles bakery and home are surrounded by browns. Lydia Grace's first thoughts are of the plants she can put in the empty window boxes.

In brief letters and through the wonderful illustrations, we see Lydia Grace slowly changing everything. Flowers appear in the rooms and all around the shop. There is a brightening that spreads from Lydia Grace's flowers to the street and the neighbors. She wins over everyone with her flowers, her hard work, and her sweet disposition.

Lydia Grace is a delight. I'd welcome her to my home anytime.

We included this book in our history and culture readings for kindergarten with First Son for the Great Depression, when we read through American history in picture books.

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