An elderly woman who rules her garden with an iron fist (“Every leaf, every pebble had its place”) learns to be a bit more flexible in Howes’s thoughtful first children’s book. Grandmother Thorn is so committed to the clean paths and symmetrical arrangements of her property that she chases away birds (and people) who threaten to disrupt it. The sole exception: her longtime friend Ojiisan. “My friend, have you considered that everything on earth sooner or later meets its match?” he asks as she wrestles with an errant berry vine. “Excellent point, Ojiisan,” she retorts. “Perhaps you might explain it to the plant.” Though the setting isn’t explicitly defined, Howes’s story is ostensibly set in Japan, and newcomer Hahn’s collaged landscapes, which incorporate stitched and pale fabric elements, have a crisp precision that prickly Grandmother Thorn would herself appreciate. The battle with the berry vine lays the matriarch low for a season, but spring brings a fresh attitude, including a new, romantic perspective on Ojiisan. It’s a quiet, visually arresting reminder that compromise has its benefits. Ages 5–7. Author’s agent: Essie White, Storm Literary. (Aug.)
Correction: A previous version of this review misspelled the author's first name.