Garden of Delights

The Little Gardener, by Emily Hughes, (Nobrow, Ltd.), 40 pages, release date 11 August, 2015

Emily Hughes’ The Little Gardener is one of the latest books from Nobrow, Ltd., a publisher specializing in high-quality picture books. I’ve enjoyed every Nobrow book I’ve seen, but The Little Gardener stands out for the quality of its illustrations. The pages are bathed in the colors of the seasons: bright green and pink for spring, gold for summer, the oranges and deep greens of harvest, and the rich browns of soil throughout.

There are actually two little gardeners in this book: a very, very small boy, who lives in a straw hut under a clump of dandelions, and his earthworm companion. Together they labor in the garden, which is full size. The boy balances atop the earthworm’s head to water flowers. He uses a saw to take down weeds that tower over him like trees. At night, both the boy and the worm find themselves wishing for help: their garden is beautiful, but overwhelming.

That help comes in the form of a pair of human children who lovingly tend the garden. As each duo works unaware of the other, the garden thrives, producing food and beauty for all.

The text in this book is limited, making it a good read-aloud book for preschoolers or first-read book for early grade-schoolers. The text may be quick to read, but the illustrations will invite extended perusal—there is so much for little eyes (and big ones) to see on each page. If you need a book for bedtime reading or that a child can leaf through during quiet time, The Little Gardener will serve you well.

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