The Night Gardener

FAN, Terry & . illus. by Terry Fan & Eric Fan. 48p. ebook available. S. & S. Feb. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481439787.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—With spare text and a simple palette, The Night Gardener tells the story of a depressed town's transformation with the help of a nocturnal gardener. The book begins on Grimloch Lane, a street where every head hangs down and an orphan boy, William, is down in the dumps. A dapper elderly man with a green leaf shining in his pocket passes him, and the magic begins. Every night, a new fantastical topiary appears in a tree on Grimloch Lane, to the neighborhood's delight. People begin playing outside, drawing, playing the tuba, and looking up in wonder: it's an urban planner's delight. William gets to tag along one night, and as the season changes, the work of creating community-revitalizing topiaries is passed to him. The illustrations look like a more cheerful Edward Gorey, done with a blend of fine-tip ink and pencil work and watercolor, with the night portrayed in pearly monochromatic blues. While most of the characters are white, a few background characters wandering through the trees are people of color.
VERDICT An elegant picture book that celebrates creativity and community; for first purchase.

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