cover image The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener

Terry and Eric Fan. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4814-3978-7

Brothers Terry and Eric Fan set their first story in a dreary town and imagine what happens when it is transformed by a gardener’s skill. William, an orphan, sits glumly in front of his orphanage scratching an owl in the dirt as a stranger walks by. After dark, readers see the stranger at work with his shears in a tree in front of the building. In the morning, the man’s artistry is revealed: the tree has been shaped into an owl like the one William has drawn. The town, initially rendered in gray pencil, shows a blush of color as people gather to marvel: “Something was happening on Grimloch Lane. Something good.” A topiary parrot appears, an elephant, a magnificent dragon; townspeople of varying ages and ethnicities rejoice, and the spreads take on livelier hues. One night, William spots the gardener, follows him, and gets a topiary lesson. Though the gardener leaves soon after and the trees revert to normal as the seasons change, the town thrives, as will William, it seems clear. A treat, with artwork worth lingering over. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Productions. (Feb.) [/em]