The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter
Illustrations by Katie Rewse
Published by Little Tiger Press|Hardie Grant Egmont
Date: 1 August 2018
When children are struggling with grief and anxiety, sometimes there are books that can help them through the process and The Garden of Hope is one of these. This book sensitively focuses on the loss of a parent and how Maya, her dad and Pip the dog get through those harder days.
When the sadness and anxiety is getting too much, Dad tells Maya how her mum used the garden to shine a little light when her happiness was lost. “…Your mum knew that by the time the seeds had grown, these worries would have faded away. She called them her seeds of hope.” So Maya starts planting small little seeds and watching them grow into ‘…something new and beautiful.’ From the new bountiful garden come other things that give Maya hope; birds, bees, butterflies, beetles, and ladybirds. The garden encapsulated the grief and carried Mayas worries away.
This beautiful story deals with grief, anxiety and sadness in a way that shows children that they can feel so much better by talking about their hurts and finding hope through things like Maya’s garden of hope.
The author has done very well at bringing this story together in a warm and endearing way but is also real about the fact there are hard days. It isn’t about forgetting your loved one but having courage and using the memory of them to heal. I feel like this is a book you would want to read one on one with a child who has lost a loved one and is most ideal for the 5 and above age group.
The illustrations are lovely and watching the garden go from a mess to blooming flowers and plants is a beautiful journey to watch and is very symbolic of how Maya goes from sadness then finding her joy. I am also going to give a little shout out to the end pages because they are just lovely – nice pale greens, blues and white, it gives you a sense of what beauty is to come in the book.
What stands out with this book is that while the focus is mostly on Maya the child but we also see how dad is coping and Pip the dog. The author hasn’t hidden behind words but is straight up about how they are coping ‘Things had changed since Mum had been gone The house was untidy. Maya, Dad and Pip were a big of a mess.’
I recommend this book for children going through grief, or even those that know someone who is going through a time of loss. It is a good book to talk about how you can remember your loved ones; whether it be a garden like Maya, or painting, sewing, or writing a poem.
Thank you Hardie Grant Egmont for the opportunity to read and review this book