A child's garden by Michael Foreman

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Walker Books, 2009. ISBN 9781406312072.
(All ages) Highly recommended. Michael Foreman has written another stunning book with a message of peace that tugs at the heart strings. A little boy lives in a barren, war torn area behind a tall barbed wire fence. One day he finds a tiny green shoot and waters and nurtures it until it grows to cover the fence. Birds and butterflies find it and the area becomes a place of beauty and a playground for children. Then one day the soldiers come along and destroy it. The boy is heartbroken, but hope arrives when a little girl on the other side of the fence finds some shoots and waters them.
Foreman's illustrations bring to life the bleakness of war. With black and white pencil drawings he shows the desolate landscape with its ruins, buildings piled high with rubble and ragged shelters. As the boy's little shoot grows, he adds colour to show the beauty of plants and the birds and butterflies that collect there and the happiness of the children who have a lovely garden to play in. When the shoots grow on both sides of the fence and the landscape is transformed, the illustrations are all in colour to show the sharing of peace.
Foreman's message is overt. He gives the reader hope that the seeds of peace can be planted deep and will one day flourish in a place where there is no fence and people can live peacefully together. This would be a wonderful book to use with all age groups to look at the effects of war and oppression and how resilient the human spirit can be.
Pat Pledger