“A unique garden becomes a channel to creatively preserve and transfer memories from one generation to another.”
As a small boy wanders through a hedge garden, the memories of his great-grandfather’s life unfold in the trimmed bushes around him. A towering tiered cake marks a wedding day, a paratrooper commemorates military service in World War II, and an enormous carrot memorializes a childhood spent on the farm. Most beautifully, a young boy wielding a sword to fight off a lake dragon shows Grandpa Green’s desire to inspire his great-grandson to lead a bright, courageous future, and harkens (if only coincidentally) to C.S. Lewis’ advice to introduce young readers to tales of brave knights so that they are prepared for the evil they will undoubtedly encounter. While Grandpa Green’s garden is already remarkable, it reaches a deeper level of meaning when Grandpa Green’s suffering from memory loss is disclosed. The bright, bold green of the hedges juxtaposed against the sketched illustrations of the characters seems a nuance from Smith showing how sometimes memories of the past are clearer than even the present for those in Grandpa Green’s circumstances. His great-grandson visits often enough that he knows how to help attend to the garden—with watering here and hedge trimming there—and, like his great-grandfather, wanders the garden without distractions like a cell phone or television. More importantly, the boy understands all the meaning and memories shared by the sculptures. While the boy seems, for now, nonchalant if not oblivious to the significant and blessed bonding and memory transfer that is taking place through this routine event of visiting Grandpa Green’s garden, observant readers won’t miss the message.
A child explores the ordinary life of his extraordinary great-grandfather, as expressed in his topiary garden.
This is such a meaningful and unique tale of family connections and family history. I love the idea of this young boy learning about his Great Grandpa Green’s life: military service, meeting Grandma Green, hobbies and interests. What Grandpa Green has done to make it easier to learn about his life is also very neat. The interplay of the story and illustrations develops subtly until becoming clear in a moment of gorgeous illustration.
Beautiful story with fun, green, illustrations. I liked the flip out last page that showed the whole garden.