cover image On the Other Side of the Garden

On the Other Side of the Garden

Jairo Buitrago, trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado, illus. by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $19.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-55498-983-6

Late at night, Isabel’s father drives her to her grandmother’s house and leaves her there with a big duffel bag. Her grandmother shows Isabel to her room. “My bedroom wasn’t my bedroom,” thinks Isabel, troubled and homesick. Three creatures—an owl, a frog, and a mouse—peer in the window at her. In a bewitching series of delicately etched blue and white spreads, the four take a long, moonlit walk (“They looked like pretty good guys”). The animals share their love for the countryside, and Isabel explains that her mother is overseas and her father is looking for work; they listen patiently. The next morning, in the bright sunlight, her grandmother’s welcome is warm: “There, on the other side of the garden,” she tells Isabel, “you might see some animals.” Buitrago’s story reaches deep into Isabel’s feelings of abandonment. Though a fantasy, it’s not one that wipes her difficult circumstances away. Instead, Buitrago and Yockteng (Walk with Me) imagine the kinds of comfort that might console Isabel most, and readers share in the beginning of her healing. Ages 4–7. (Mar.)