cover image The Curious Garden

The Curious Garden

Peter Brown, . . Little, Brown, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-316-01547-9

Brown’s (Chowder ) latest is a quiet but stirring fable of urban renewal, sure to capture imaginations. In exploring his bleak city neighborhood, thoughtful Liam—in Brown’s warm, almost fuzzy acrylic spreads, he looks a little like a friendly, redheaded wooden puppet—notices that some flowering plants have appeared on an old elevated railway track. He teaches himself to care for them (“The flowers nearly drowned and he had a few pruning problems, but the plants patiently waited while Liam found better ways of gardening”), and the garden responds by “growing restless. It wanted to explore.” In one of several wordless spreads, Liam stands against a bright blue sky, surrounded by a thick patch of daisies. Spring brings a burst of new energy: “the tough little weeds and mosses set out first. They popped up farther and farther from the railway.... but the most surprising things that popped up were the new gardeners.” In Brown’s utopian vision, the urban and the pastoral mingle to joyfully harmonious effect—especially on the final pages, which show a city filled with rooftop gardens, fantastic topiaries, windmills and sparkling ponds. Ages 3–6. (Apr.)