#blogbookaday: On the Other Side of the Garden

23 Jun

On the Other Side of the GardenSummary:  “From one of the great creative teams in picture books, On the Other Side of the Garden is about a city girl learning to accept the change brought about by her parents’ separation when she is taken to her grandmother’s house in the country and befriended by an owl, a frog and a mouse.

When her father leaves her at her grandmother’s house, the young girl at the center of this story feels abandoned and lonely. Her mother has moved to another country, and the girl wasn’t paying attention when her father explained what was happening. And she hardly remembers her grandmother.

After going up to her room she decides to venture out into the nighttime garden where she meets an owl, a frog and a mouse. They take her on a tour of her extraordinary new world. When she gets back in the morning, her grandmother explains that her father won’t be back for a long time. The girl tells her that she wants to be able to spend time in the garden with the plants and animals of this new world, and her grandmother doesn’t seem to be either surprised or alarmed by her nighttime adventures. And she is very happy that the girl and she will get to know each other.

Buitrago’s stories are noted for conveying large truths through understatement and suggestion. This story, beautifully illustrated by Yockteng, shows how a child can use her own bravery and curiosity to confront frightening and potentially destructive realities such as a parents’ separation and being left with an almost unknown relative through what we must assume is a situation where her father had no choice.

There is an endnote about the plants and animals that might be found in such a garden.” (Taken from Goodreads)

Review: A young girl is dropped off with a grandmother she barely knows after her parents separate and she spends the night talking with an owl, frog and mouse as she becomes acquainted with her grandmother’s garden. This book is an international title, translated into English and I think it would be an interesting project for older kids to compare and contrast titles first published in America versus international titles as there is definitely a difference between the two both in style and content.

Personal Reaction: I wasn’t sure at first, how I felt when I read this title, but after reading through it again, I found it so powerful as so many children experience parents separating or even being placed into situations that they don’t understand and don’t feel comfortable asking questions for clarification. This would be a great story to share with older students, in elementary school as it is a bit longer than a typical picture book and has an older protagonist.

Title: On the Other Side of the Garden
Author: Jairo Buitrago
Illustrator: Rafael Yockteng
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2018

#blogbookaday (1)This is a new idea I’m trying on my blog this year that was inspired by @donalynbooks and @heisereads – to provide a brief review of a picture book every day of 2018. You’ll get a brief summary of the story, a review of the content, illustrations and theme, my personal reaction to the book and all the pertinent publication information! Enjoy!


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