Review: The Imaginary Garden

Hello, everyone!  I’m back for my second “Forest of Reading” review.  This time I chose a Blue Spruce nominee (ages 4-7, grades K-2):

The Imaginary Garden, written by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher.

The Imaginary Garden is a warm and colourful picture book.  Theo loves to garden with her Poppa.  When Poppa moves from his house to an apartment, Theo is upset to discover that there is no space on his windy balcony for gardening.  Undaunted, Theo and Poppa create a beautiful imaginary garden using canvas and paint.  This quiet story champions the everyday relationships between family, and the special place art and creativity occupy in our lives.  The illustrations capture beautifully the imaginary space shared by Theo and her Poppa, an experience young readers, still adept at playing “make believe” with their peers, will recognize with delight.

Last week I read The Imaginary Garden to the grade 4, SK, and JK classes.  The kindergartens enjoyed the book very much, but the grade 4’s found it much too slow.  The common consensus among the older kids was that there wasn’t enough action.  The kindergartens, on the other hand, loved the bright and colourful flowers, the relationship between Theo and Poppa, and the fact that it is Theo who solves the problem of having no space to garden by suggesting that she and Poppa use their imaginations.

This book would be excellent to use as an introduction to an art project.  Its very peaceful tone also make it perfect for reading during quiet time, or just before bed.  Recommended.

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