cover image Noah's Garden: When Someone You Love Is in the Hospital

Noah's Garden: When Someone You Love Is in the Hospital

Mo Johnson, illus. by Annabelle Josse, Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-76364782-7

Sensitively told and skillfully illustrated, Johnson's story is pitched toward the very young. It's not just a hospital story, as the title would seem to indicate, but a story specifically about an older sibling's wait for a premature infant. Small, darkhaired Noah whiles away what are clearly weeks of waiting, cared for by his parents and grandparents in the hospital's garden, coping, as children do, by relying on his imagination. "Noah is bathing with tigers again. Soapy tigers. They splash and they flap and they splosh in the pool.... Tigers wash cheerfully in Noah's garden." When Noah expresses impatience ("Please can Jessica play in my garden?"), his parents reassure him without faltering ("Maybe next week," his mother says. "She's with her doctor now"). Debut illustrator Josse's watercolors picture Noah's fantasies with lots of color and bounce, while quieter scenes in which Noah bumps up against reality give vital information about Jessica's circumstances. When Jessica finally appears, Josse zeroes in on Noah, who greets her with joy, while his fantasy creatures peer from behind the bushes; he's going to need them for a while yet. Ages 3–up. (June)