The Curious Garden
by Peter Brown
Liam, a redheaded boy, discovers he has a green thumb when he transforms a garden languishing high above the city. The title of Peter Brown's uplifting picture book plants a clue to the double entendre waiting within these pages. While Liam is out exploring on a "drizzly day," the curious boy climbs a staircase to some abandoned railroad tracks and stumbles upon a "lonely patch of color." The author-artist begins with a palette of gray, rust, moss, and eggshell, underscoring what a "very dreary place" the city is. Liam can see that the plants are in trouble, and he "may not have been a gardener, but he knew that he could help." In a trio of vignettes, the boy waters the struggling plants, prunes a rather sad-looking excuse for a tree (about waist-high on Liam) and serenades the small patch of greenery. Soon colors cascade across the elevated garden, and blue returns to the skies. The garden itself grows "curious" and begins to spread out, "explor[ing] every corner of the railway." Liam becomes engulfed by daisies, like Dorothy in Oz's field of poppies. All too soon, fall and winter come. But as soon as signs of spring arrive, the boy is back with his watering can, pruning shears and songbook. A rooftop view shows that Liam's enthusiasm is infectious--small gardens in high places erupt across the city's skyline (your child will especially enjoy hedges sculpted like zoo animals and a pair of tree houses four stories off the ground). A closing full-spread view depicts a city transformed into a skytop nursery with a scattering of windmills, a dog run and a hammock, alongside a blue-hued harbor with a sailboat where once there ran ink-black waters and a tugboat spewing fumes. Move over, Martha Stewart--it won’t be long before your youngster finds his or her own corner of the yard or block to brighten up.