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The Night Gardener

by Terry Fan

Publishers Weekly Brothers Terry and Eric Fan set their first story in a dreary town and imagine what happens when it is transformed by a gardener's skill. William, an orphan, sits glumly in front of his orphanage scratching an owl in the dirt as a stranger walks by. After dark, readers see the stranger at work with his shears in a tree in front of the building. In the morning, the man's artistry is revealed: the tree has been shaped into an owl like the one William has drawn. The town, initially rendered in gray pencil, shows a blush of color as people gather to marvel: "Something was happening on Grimloch Lane. Something good." A topiary parrot appears, an elephant, a magnificent dragon; townspeople of varying ages and ethnicities rejoice, and the spreads take on livelier hues. One night, William spots the gardener, follows him, and gets a topiary lesson. Though the gardener leaves soon after and the trees revert to normal as the seasons change, the town thrives, as will William, it seems clear. A treat, with artwork worth lingering over. Ages 4-8. Agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Productions. (Feb.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Life on Grimloch Lane is, well, pretty grim until the morning William awakens in his home at the Grimloch Orphanage to discover that something marvelous has happened overnight: through topiary art, the tree on the street has been transformed into a giant owl! And that's just the beginning. Each morning thereafter, a new topiary work appears: first, a cat, then a rabbit, then a parakeet, and finally the most magnificent masterpiece yet appears: a majestic griffin. Who is responsible for these marvels? That night, as William is about to head home, he spots a stranger and follows him. Could it be? Yes, it is the Night Gardener, and he asks William to help him. The next morning, the gardener is gone, but he has left William a life-changing gift. Though not quite life-changing itself, the Fan brothers' quiet story is nevertheless invested with an element of agreeable magic which is underscored by their use of muted colors to evoke the mysteries of the night. It is a pleasing collaboration with art bound to both haunt and delight.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-With spare text and a simple palette, The Night Gardener tells the story of a depressed town's transformation with the help of a nocturnal gardener. The book begins on Grimloch Lane, a street where every head hangs down and an orphan boy, William, is down in the dumps. A dapper elderly man with a green leaf shining in his pocket passes him, and the magic begins. Every night, a new fantastical topiary appears in a tree on Grimloch Lane, to the neighborhood's delight. People begin playing outside, drawing, playing the tuba, and looking up in wonder: it's an urban planner's delight. William gets to tag along one night, and as the season changes, the work of creating community-revitalizing topiaries is passed to him. The illustrations look like a more cheerful Edward Gorey, done with a blend of fine-tip ink and pencil work and watercolor, with the night portrayed in pearly monochromatic blues. While most of the characters are white, a few background characters wandering through the trees are people of color. VERDICT An elegant picture book that celebrates creativity and community; for first purchase.-Lisa Nowlain, Darien Library, CT Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.