Compelling, delicate, and spare, this book brings both artist and garden to life.

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THE SECRET KINGDOM

NEK CHAND, A CHANGING INDIA, AND A HIDDEN WORLD OF ART

Rosenstock weaves the story of folk artist Nek Chand Saini and the magnificent secret garden he built in Chandigarh, India.

Now spread over 40 acres and open to the public since 1976, Nek Chand’s Rock Garden is a world of palaces, temples, and villages, showcasing over 5,000 creative sculptures of people, animals, and whimsical creatures, all made from discarded industrial items and household articles. The spare, lyrical text brings forth the stories that Nek Chand grew up with and evokes the village that stayed with him long after he and his family had to flee during the Partition of India in 1947, “walking for twenty-four days across the new border into India. Nek carried only village stories in his broken heart.” When his garden, built illegally on government ground, was discovered and threatened with destruction, the people of Chandigarh rallied, preserving both his job and the garden. Nivola’s delicate and detailed watercolor-and-gouache illustrations feature people with dark hair and skin of different shades of brown. They show authentic snippets of pre-Partition village life as well as the surreal landscape he built; these are complemented by a double gatefold of photos of the actual garden. There is no glossary, but most of the few Punjabi words in the text are easily assumed from the context. Readers may wish for maps of India and the garden.

Compelling, delicate, and spare, this book brings both artist and garden to life. (bibliography, author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7475-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter

MALALA'S MAGIC PENCIL

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter . (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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