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A Child's Garden

A Child's Garden: A Story of Hope

Written and illustrated by Michael Foreman
Walker Books/Candlewick Press, 2009
Ages 4-8

A boy finds a “speck of green” among the rubble that is the bleak, monochrome landscape of his home, and nurtures it with almost desperate care.  His world is separated from the outside by a tall, barbed wire fence: but as the plant grows, it covers the fence, bringing welcome shade, and birds and butterflies.  Other children come there to play and help care for the sturdy vine. Then the unthinkable happens.  Soldiers from the other side of the wire rip the vine away, leaving it to die in a ditch.  Color has once again gone out of the world.  The boy’s heartbreak is palpable.

Life continues through a joyless, cold winter but spring brings with it new growth – on the other side of the fence.  A girl appears and nurtures the plants in her turn, under the disinterested eyes of the soldiers.  Soon there are shoots on the boy’s side too.  Tendrils meet and entwine across the fence, and children on both sides come together to play and tend the vine.  The boy realises that it will grow despite the soldiers’ efforts to destroy it – and in the same way, the fence itself will one day disappear.  The seeds for that have been sown.

A Child’s Garden is a moving, empowering read that, like all good fables, will leave a lasting, deep-rooted impression on its readers.

Read our review of the book.
Read our interview with Michael Foreman.
See our Gallery feature of Michael Foreman's work.

Walker Books' website:

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Rain School

Written and illustrated by James Rumford
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010.
Ages 4-8

It's the first day back at school after the long break through the rainy season in a village in Chad, and for some it's their first day at school ever. Thomas is surprised when he arrives at school to find there's no building - but his smiling teacher is on hand to explain that before they can study they need to build their school. And that is just what they do. All the children help build up the mud bricks and lay the straw roof. A couple of weeks later they proudly enter the school to begin their lessons, each one eager to learn all they can until the rainy season begins again and their school becomes a pile of mud and straw under the elements.

Through this joyful story and his exuberant illustrations, James Rumford reminds children how precious an education is and that bricks and mortar do not a school make.

Read our review of the book.
Read our interview with James Rumford.
See our Gallery feature of James Rumford's work.

James Rumford’s website:
James Rumford's Blog:
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children's website:

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Written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Beach Lane Books, 2010
Ages 4-8.

Colombian schoolteacher and avid reader Luis Soriano gets into trouble from his wife for filling their house to overflowing with books. Then he devises a way not only to make a bit of space at home, but also to bring books to isolated communities who hitherto have had little or no access to books: he sets up his Biblioburro, a mobile lending library carried on the backs of two donkeys.

Each week Luis Soriano loads up books from his private collection and carries them from his remote village of La Gloria to even more remote villages in the Colombian jungle.  Luis and his burros, Alfa and Beto, endure heat, tiredness, and even bandits as they carry their precious cargo to people hungry for books.  When Luis arrives, he reads to the children before allowing each of them to select a new book and return their books from the previous week.

Then Luis returns home and reads his own book late into the night.

Biblioburro is not only an inspiring story, it is fun and full of adventure and humor too. As ever, Jeanette Winter's compact narrative and the vibrancy of her signature folk-art based artwork combine to create an irresistible book for young readers.

Read our review of the book.
Read our interview with Jeanette Winter.
See our Gallery feature of Jenaette Winter's work.

Beach Lane Books' website:

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