cover image Rock by Rock: The Fantastical Garden of Nek Chand

Rock by Rock: The Fantastical Garden of Nek Chand

Jennifer Bradbury, illus. by Sam Boughton. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8182-3

The Partition of India and Pakistan looms behind Bradbury’s warmhearted account of the life of Nek Chand (1924–2015), who built a secret sculpture garden outside Chandigarh. When Chand encounters a plot of forest that reminds him of the ancestral village he left behind, “missing moved from his heart to his hands, and his hands knew what to do.” He begins using found objects and trash to construct paths and sculptures, and “the more he created, the more he wanted to make.” When the expanding city collides with his hidden garden, the community embraces it, defending it from destruction. The vibrant color and layered spatters, scribbles, and patterns of Boughton’s collage-like digital illustrations cleverly nod to Chand’s mosaic-like sculptural work in images that conjure the clamor of city life and the respite of a secret garden. Back matter includes photos, additional context about Chand’s life as a refugee of Partition, and a timeline. Ages 4–8. [em](Feb.) [/em]