The Extraordinary Gardener

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Joe’s world might be grey and dull, but his imagination is wild and wondrous, leading to an idea ‘full of beauty, colour, scent and song’ which transforms everything around him.

My husband spotted this gem and bought it for me. He knew the moment he saw it that it was a very special book and that I would love it- and he was absolutely right!

Joe takes a simple seed and with it grows a tree. He learns how to tend and care for his tree and then other plants, creating a beautiful garden which brings joy to all around him. When he sees what is happening, Joe shares his garden with people throughout the city, spreading colour and joy and transforming the world he lives in. Not only does the book speak volumes about the value of gardening in urban spaces and the pleasure this brings, it also reminds us of the importance of sharing, building communities and spreading happiness with our actions.

The illustrations are just delightful. Joe starts as the only colourful thing in the grey world. In a wonderful cross-section picture of his block of flats, the eye is instantly drawn to the colour of his room, surrounded by the grey boxes lived in by others. Closer inspection shows plenty of detail as other families go about their business, but it is not until the end of the book when Joe’s gardening and acts of kindness have painted the world in colour that things really come to life. Woven into this scene are animals and birds from the earlier pictures where Joe’s imagination took him to a ‘world less ordinary’.

As Joe visits each person and shares his gift of gardening, colour spreads through the images showing what a wonderfully diverse neighbourhood he lives in and how one little boy following his dream can make such a change in bringing people together.

An excellent choice for using in school, ‘The Extraordinary Gardener’ could be used to inspire so much work across the curriculum as well as making an excellent story time read. I am planning to use it for a Book Group session very soon.

From the dull grey, cityscape end papers at the beginning of the book to the vibrant, nature-filled ones at the end, this book is a real delight. Good choice, hubby!

The Extraordinary Gardener Sam Boughton

Tate Publishing ISBN: 978-1849765664