The garden at the end of the world by Cassy Polimeni & Briony Stewart

cover image

This beautifully written and illustrated picture book takes Isla and her mother on a journey to the Global Seed Vault in Norway. Isla has discovered a rare seed pod in the forest near their home and while she would like to keep it, her botanist mother tells her about the Global Seed Vault which is in Spitsbergen on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, located between Norway and the North Pole.

Together they undertake the journey by plane, ski and on foot. The weather is freezing, the days are dark and the snow falls. They witness the Northern Lights and see inside the enormous vault. Kept there are seeds that future generations will be able to grow if varieties become extinct, more diversity is needed, as well as learn about the past. Included are Kangaroo Grass seeds from Australia, maize from Mexico, chickpeas from India and even soybeans from Nigeria. Isla happily leaves her seeds there, knowing that there ‘will always be a garden at the end of the world.’ At the end of the story is further important information on the Global Seed Vault.

The striking illustrations by Briony Stewart, perfectly complement the words of the author, Cassy Polimeni. The gorgeous endpapers featuring a variety of plants reflect the message in this story that nature needs to be protected. A wonderful book that will hopefully encourage discussion and further research about this important topic. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: Norway, Global Seed Vault, Family, Endangered Plants, Preservation, Protection.

Kathryn Beilby