The garden of hope by Isabel Otter and Katie Rewse

cover image

Little Tiger, 2018. ISBN 9781848577138
"Things had changed since Mum had been gone. The house was untidy. Maya, Dad and Pip were a bit of a mess. And the garden had become wild and overgrown. "
Each of them was sad and anxious, trying to help each other as best they could. One day, Dad tells Maya that whenever her mother was feeling anxious, she would plant some seeds because she knew that by the time they had grown, the worries would have faded. They were her "seeds of hope".
So Maya decides to try her mother's remedy, starting with planting sunflowers which were her mother's favourite. And gradually a transformation occurred - the garden started to flourish and Maya and her father started to heal. Despite the darkness and sadness, there was still beauty and hope in the world.
This is a charming story with illustrations as gentle as the text, that offer a wonderful strategy to help anyone, young or old, to deal with grief. Sometimes when we are overwhelmed by our emotions it is hard to see that time will pass - rather each minute seems to drag into an hour - so having something as simple as planting seeds, something that could be done in almost any situation, and watching the progress of the flowers can not only offer distraction but also shows that there is movement in time, that some some peace of mind is possible and there can be unexpected rewards. For Maya, the new garden brings not only beauty but bees and butterflies and other little creatures who find a home and sustenance because of her efforts. And because gardening can be a solo or a shared activity that healing can help more than just the seed-sower.
Children love to plant things and watch them grow, and many schools have established gardens, particularly kitchen gardens which supply the school canteen. But how wonderful would it be to also have a flower bed, one where a troubled or grieving child can go to potter and seek tranquility and calm as they literally "smell the roses".
This is a gentle, understated story that would be perfect to share with any little one suffering loss or heartache.
Barbara Braxton