“Maya had forgotten the worries she had planted with the seeds. The garden had carried them away”.
This beautiful picture book uses the regeneration of an overgrown garden as a metaphor to reflect how a family begins to recover from the pain and shock of losing a loved one.
Maya and her Dad have been in a ‘bit of a mess’ since Mum has been gone. Dad is struggling with his grief while still having to keep the household together, and they both battle with their emotions at times. Dad tells Maya how her Mum would plant some seeds (her ‘seeds of hope’) when she was feeling sad; she knew that by the time they became flowers, her worries would have faded away. Dad encourages Maya to walk in Mum’s footsteps, and she sets about weeding and tending their unruly garden wilderness.
As the newly planted seeds begin to grow, the garden attracts birds, insects and other animals; it is literally bursting with life. Although Maya acknowledges life is ‘still a bit of a mess’ for the family, the transformed garden has brought something different…’for the first time in a long while, there is hope’.
The lovingly created mixed media illustrations depict the clutter and imperfections of a household that has undergone a traumatic event. Artist Katie Rewse has used colour to reinforce the message of hope; the overgrown garden is in a sombre palette, contrasting with the glorious burst of colour used to depict the transformed garden at the end of the story. We loved the comic relief provided by Pip the dog and his muddy antics.
Sensitively written using descriptions that should resonate with young children, The Garden of Hope is a super picture book which is sure to provide comfort and hope to children who have experienced bereavement.