The Garden of Hope
Isabel Otter and Katie Rewse
Isabel Otter and Katie Rewse have created a touchingly beautiful picture book story of loss, love, sadness, hope, transformation and beauty.
Maya’s mum is no longer on the scene (we’re not told if she has died or absent from the family home). Those remaining though – Dad, Maya and dog Pip are feeling bad and seem surrounded by desolation; that’s certainly so in the now overgrown garden.
Dad struggles to keep things going; Maya’s loneliness is in part compensated by Pip’s company but still she feels the loss, despite Dad’s stories.
One day when Maya feels particularly sad he tells her a story about Mum, relating how her remedy for down days was to go outside, plant seeds and wait for them to grow, by which time her worries would be replaced by something of beauty.
On the table are some packets of seeds.
A decision is made: it’s time to transform that neglected garden.
Little by little Maya prepares the ground for planting, her first seeds being Mum’s favourite sunflowers. Gradually along with the burgeoning plants, gardening releases something in Maya, allowing calming thoughts to grow.
From time to time, Dad too takes comfort in gardening alongside his little girl. Lightness grows and with it some happiness. The flowers bloom attracting tiny creatures,
then larger ones until the entire garden is alive with hums, buzzes, flutters, flowers and, the first bursting of transcendent hope and … joy.
In a similar way Mum’s absence has left gaps in the family’s life, the author leaves gaps in the story for readers to fill. Her heart-stirring telling has a quiet power that is echoed in Katie Rewse’s graceful scenes.
Poignant, powerful: an understated gem.