Review Blog

Oct 29 2010

The paradise garden by Colin Thompson

cover image

Random House Australia, 2010 (1998). ISBN978 1741664195.
Recommended. Picture book. Escaping from the narrow, noise filled streets of his home, Peter finds a garden. It is a wonderful place, peaceful and calm. He contemplates the many new plants and animal life, the forests, the trees and the ponds. He learns to live in this magical place, eating bananas from the trees in the palm house, washing his clothes in the lotus pond and sleeping under the stars. All the way through hints are given of his life before the garden, where he lived a lonely life, torn between his separated parents, living in a house where the neighbours' yelling could be heard and the noise from the street invaded his home.
The illustrations take the eye through the gardens, and as with all of Colin Thompson's wonderful books, there is a myriad of detail to contemplate and admire. Each page is brimming with ideas and framed with drawings which give another element to the story. And on each page Peter can be found. I love the double page spread which shows the gnarled tree trunk spreading across both pages, with little windows, drawers and doors peeping though. Hanging in the tree are many small houses, each with their lights on inside. Ladders and lifts, tunnels and stairways make their way to each of the houses.
The magic of his drawings is paralleled by the story of one boy running away but coming home a wiser person, bringing some of what he found home with him. The last page showing his narrow cottage in a narrow street, but with a green, flower filled garden, shows what he has learnt, and even though things at home may not have changed, he has the ability to take his garden with him.
Thompson's work always fills me with awe. I can imagine kids having a great time looking at the detail and being very aware of the theme of this book.
Fran Knight

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