March 31, 2016
The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers
The Night Gardener
by The Fan Brothers
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
The name said it all. Grimloch Lane as Grim with a capital G. From the orphanage where William lived to #71 which was full of cats.
Then one morning everyone awoke to find that a tree beside the orphanage had been cut to resemble a wise owl. Next came a tree shaped like a cat. Rabbits, parakeets and more appeared as a mysterious gardener clipped one creation per night. Each morning more and more people gathered to gaze in wonder at the new addition.
As more and more trees took shape, the morning gatherings changed. At first, people gathered just to gaze up at the trees. Soon there were photographers, people playing musical instruments, and children with balloons, kites and balls. Things were changing on Grimloch Lane.
One day the festivities continued until after dark. William was about to head home when he saw a man walking down the street carrying a ladder.William followed him to the park and as the man prepared to enter, he turned to William. “There are so many trees in the park. I could use a little help.” William joins the night gardener in creating beauty but never claiming it as his own.
Once again, I’m not going to tell you how the book ends. You’re going to have to read it yourself. That said, if you request it from the library, make sure you get the picture book by the Fan Brothers and not the middle grade novel by Jonathan Auxier which is a very different book although it is also excellent.
Perhaps it is because the book was created by brothers Terry and Eric but the text and art work seamlessly together. The text tells the part of the story about the topiary. Until the very end, the story about the changes within Grimloch Lane itself is told only within the artwork. This book is profoundly encouraging without once saying “create something simply for the sake of creation and the world will change for the better.”
Share this book with the young reader in your life who loves art or gardening. Share it with the reader who needs a bit of mysterious beauty.