February 19, 2018

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On the Other Side of the Garden by Jairo Buitrago | SLJ Review

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redstarBUITRAGO, Jairo. On the Other Side of the Garden. tr. from Spanish by Elisa Amado. illus. by Rafael Yockteng. 56p. Groundwood. Mar. 2018. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781554989836.

PreS-Gr 1 –The pair that created Walk With Me present a new exploration of coping with the absence of parents. A girl is deposited at her grandmother’s country house by her father. While the woman appears reserved, objects in the girl’s assigned bedroom foreshadow the identities of three creatures that will become friends—thereby suggesting a grandma in-the-know. The digital illustrations are initially rendered almost entirely in a dark blue/green and white palette. Quiet spots of color help readers to focus on the knowledgeable owl, curious frog, and hungry mouse that invite the youngster for a moonlit walk in the garden. The first person account, presented in a compact but capacious sentence or two per page, eventually reveals more about the protagonist’s mum—who “went to live and work in another country” and her father, who is looking for employment. In sharing their perspective, the animals help the girl see her guardian as a lonely, kind person, and in the warm light of a full color morning, Grandmother welcomes her with hugs and nourishment. Buitrago and Yockteng exhibit a keen understanding of a child’s interior life. VERDICT Those who feel physically or emotionally distant from beloved adults will take comfort in the idea that there are others who care. A subtle and affecting journey to resilience best shared one-on-one to pore over the spectacular artwork.–Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2018 issue.

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