Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Lane Smith & illustrated by Lane Smith

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59643-607-7
Publisher: Roaring Brook

An adoring great-grandson and a topiary garden tell the stories of one man’s life.

Watering a garden, pulling a wagon, collecting dropped gardening gloves and tools, a little fellow works in an amazing topiary world made of memories. The trees tell the story of his great-grandfather’s life—from birth to chicken pox to high school to military service and, later, marriage. Many of the illustrations morph with page turns: Tears from the baby become water from a hose; a mysterious conical shape becomes a cannon; a bunny near a tiny tree munches a carrot topiary. Splashes of red—berries, a hair bow, gunfire and a heart—make brief appearances in this green world, but green, like Grandpa’s name, is the star of this show. When the boy reunites Grandpa Green with his missing things, readers discover that though Grandpa sometimes forgets, the garden remembers for him. The illustrations say what the text doesn't need to—that the love between boy and elder is elemental and honest. One surprising and sparkling gatefold shows the whole garden, with Grandpa Green working on his newest creation: his grandson fighting a dragon. Readers who slow down will be rewarded by this visual feast that grows richer with each visit.

Though this book has lots of adult appeal, it will also be a wonderful bridge to exploring family history with the very young. (Picture book. 5-9)