Sarah Stewart's children's book The Gardener was something I stumbled upon one afternoon while I was killing time at a bookstore. The cover caught my eye and the title captured my interest: the little girl with flowers and a cat standing on a fire escape in a city. I like gardening and my brain is continuously on the subject during early spring. I want to grow something, see flowers, watch something develop and typically end up buying too many bulbs and staring at my garden each day to see if there is any progress in flower growth.
Sitting at the tiny table in the children's section of the bookstore, I opened this book and dove into its story, all told from letters written by the child named Lydia Grace. The first few letters depict what has placed Lydia Grace in the position she is in: leaving her family and moving to the big city to live with her Uncle Jim to help him at his bakery and also take some weight off the shoulders of her family. The idea is sadly similar to a lot of what is going on in the present day: many friends of mine are moving to stay with different family members across the US with hopes of obtaining a job and taking the weight off of their family's shoulders. The only difference is that The Gardener takes place during the Depression-era and not 2012.
Lydia Grace has a passion for gardening and a certain green thumb which she uses to transform her surroundings in the city. She grows different plants and flowers, sprucing up the bakery and cheering up the surrounding areas. Her main goal is to make her Uncle Jim smile, something he just doesn't seem capable of doing. With the help of those she meets, Lydia Grace builds a beautiful rooftop garden which she surprises her uncle with. The letters to home are sweet and the aid of artwork in the book lends to telling what the letters cannot. This is a picture book that's perfect for a springtime purchase.