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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book...
The "curious garden" is absolutely beautiful as it wends it's way around a drab, brown city. My 4 year old son (who also happens to be named Liam), loves pouring over the full spread illustrations of the garden. And I love the message of spreading a little green in the world.
Published on March 22, 2009 by C. Synnott

versus
54 of 77 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love the message...but
The Curious Garden is one of the books that appears on many "mock Caldecott" short lists. The Caldecott Medal is an award given to the best children's picture book published the preceeding year. The Curious Garden will be eligible for the 2010 Caldecott.

I love the message of the book--that things that are worn-out and ugly can become beautiful when people...
Published on July 1, 2009 by J. Vargo


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book..., March 22, 2009
This review is from: The Curious Garden (Hardcover)
The "curious garden" is absolutely beautiful as it wends it's way around a drab, brown city. My 4 year old son (who also happens to be named Liam), loves pouring over the full spread illustrations of the garden. And I love the message of spreading a little green in the world.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Hearted Message!, April 20, 2009
This review is from: The Curious Garden (Hardcover)
I just absolutely love this book. The illustrations are beautiful. Almost real and surreal at the same time.
Well written and simple but with a strong message - community, caring for the environment, growth, spreading the good and passing it forward.

We saw the author and he is just adorable. I love the books even more knowing that this guy wrote them and illustrated them. He is just hilarious and charming and really good with kids...hmmm.. wonder if he has a girlfriend...I digress.

It really is a great book. Good for families and great in classrooms.His other books are also topnotch. Illustrations are what makes them great.
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113 of 141 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: The Curious Garden, April 9, 2009
This review is from: The Curious Garden (Hardcover)
Hello! My name is Mr. Message. You probably know me from my countless appearances in books, especially the "for children" variety. It's my job to expose a universal truth or support a cause. Sometimes I even tell the reader how they should act. As you may know, I can be controversial.

Sometimes, people get upset when authors make it really clear that I'm coming to the party. They put me front and center, and the story takes a back seat. Hey, I can be preachy if that's what the author wants! I don't always raise a stink, though. Occasionally, authors cleverly sneak me into a story, making as little disruption as possible. The reader hardly knows I'm there.

Then you have an author like Peter Brown (Chowder, Flight of the Dodo) and his book The Curious Garden. In this book I tell kids that caring for the environment makes a better world. Peter somehow manages to to make me the center of attention, yet not so preachy that it feels like readers are learning a lesson. There's a kind of take-it-or-leave-it nonchalance that I quite like.

The story is about a red-haired boy named Liam. He lives in a dreary town without a plant to speak of. No trees, no flowers, nothing but cement and smog. One day Liam happens upon a staircase which leads to the abandoned railroad tracks. What our hero discovers there changes his life. He finds plants. It's not much - some sad looking grass and a few flowers on their deathbeds, but Liam decides to nurse them back to health. As they get better, the vegetation begins to spread, and soon other folks begin to follow Liam's lead. After a while the town, once dingy and gray, is transformed.

While Peter did a great job adding me to the story, his acrylic and gouache illustrations really steal the show. The man is a master of perspective, always choosing the right angle to add life to the story. The beating heart of this book is right in the middle. Two wordless two-page spreads show the amazing growth of Liam's garden. In fact, the illustrations are such that this book would function pretty well were it completely wordless.

While I, Mr. Message, would love to take sole credit for the success of The Curious Garden, more praise should go to Mr. Brown, who created beautiful images, tamed my preachy side, and crafted a lovely story.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for Spring!, March 30, 2009
This review is from: The Curious Garden (Hardcover)
How perfect that this is coming out now to celebrate Spring! The story and the pictures made me want to share this with my gardening friends as well as the children in my life. Another great book beautifully illustrated by this author.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Children of All Ages!, May 2, 2009
By 
MommyRhiannon (Greensboro, NC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Curious Garden (Hardcover)
Bravo Peter Brown! This book inspires children of all ages to open their eyes & hearts to the natural beauty growing in the most unexpected of places! The illustrations capture the imagination and inject humor into a very important message of loving & nuturing our Mother Earth! Makes a fantastic birthday or holiday present...pair it with a little spade, watering can & a few seed packets! PS-And it's printed on beautiful recycled paper!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have not yet read, but please note: for ages 3-7, April 9, 2009
By 
BookwormLD (Upstate NY, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Curious Garden (Hardcover)
I saw this book in the Shelf Awareness newsletter and the publisher lists it as being for ages 3-7. This, to me, is in conflict with the listing here on Amazon, which states "Baby-Preschool" and might keep the book from finding its intended audience. Amazon, perhaps this listing needs to be changed?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A greener world is possible!, July 26, 2009
This review is from: The Curious Garden (Hardcover)
After creating Flight of the Dodo and Chowder, Peter Brown has created a fan base for life. The Curious Garden doesn't disappoint and maintains Brown's charming illustration style.

Brown was inspired to write The Curious Garden because of The High Line, an elevated freight train track on Manhattan's West Side, out of use for nearly three decades. It's a beautiful site smack dab in the middle of Manhattan. Through the efforts of a dedicated community group, the site is now being transformed into a park and promenade, after possible destruction.

In The Curious Garden, a little boy named Liam lives in a drab, brown, smoke-filled city. Liam is the only hint of color with his red hair, red boots, and red umbrella. One day, Liam is out exploring and discovers a stairway leading up to an elevated train track. He stumbles upon a struggling garden and becomes determined to care for it. Liam discovers his green thumb and learns how to become a gardener.

Even when winter comes, Liam uses his time wisely. He reads books on gardening and gathers the tools and skills necessary to bring his secret garden to full bloom. With Liam's tender loving care, the garden spreads throughout the gray city, inspiring others to do a little gardening of their own. Adding to the effect, Brown's illustrations bloom with color as the garden spreads, transforming the dreary city into a lush urban garden.

This whimsical tale encourages young readers that a greener world is possible...one garden at a time. It sends a wonderful message that even though something might seem "useless", if it's tended to and cared for, it can bring new life to an entire community.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, April 11, 2009
This review is from: The Curious Garden (Hardcover)
Whimsical and wonderful, this book is way more appealing to me than a lot of the cutsie kids books out there. It draws you in as the city transforms, page by page, from a dreary industrial wasteland into a beautiful urban oasis. The illustrations are edgy and beautifully done, leaving you wishing you were there. And all the while it's subtly teaching important values like showing what can happen when you take something "worthless" and give it new life, which I think is a crucial lesson within our throw-away society. It also reinforces the ideas of community, being eco-conscious, and commitment.

I look forward to reading this to my daughter for years to come.
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54 of 77 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love the message...but, July 1, 2009
This review is from: The Curious Garden (Hardcover)
The Curious Garden is one of the books that appears on many "mock Caldecott" short lists. The Caldecott Medal is an award given to the best children's picture book published the preceeding year. The Curious Garden will be eligible for the 2010 Caldecott.

I love the message of the book--that things that are worn-out and ugly can become beautiful when people care enough to put work into them, like Liam, the star of this story, cares about turning old elevated railroad tracks into gardens. Cities are full of possibilities for re-purposing and renewing places that are no longer functioning. As an urban park planner for 20 years in many industrial towns, there is no shortage of places and no limit to the possibilities, as long as people are willing to dream and make their dreams realities. I think it would be good for our nation for us to become a nation of visionaries and goal-oriented workers again! The book is inspiring, and I hardly ever say that about a book or any other form of media.

The drawback for me is the illustrations. They fail to live up to the inspiring message of the text. The dull tones, the overly-subtle changes between the "before" and "after" images, the utter stiffness of the people (can Liam even bend his elbows and knees?)overwhelms the hope-filled theme.

The illustrations seem to just show continued urban decay sometimes. The buidlings still look rusty and dirty with broken windows, the only change is that no one controls the inevitable weeds that grow out of every crack and crevice. Growing plants on tumbledown buildings does not renew a city or inspire others to "go green." If anything, the city looks less cared-for and more out of control.

It's been my experience that when someone actually cares about their old urban neighborhood, whether with a new park, a beautiful garden, repainted houses or whatever, others catch the improvment bug and start to fix up their places, too. They see how dingy their own place looks compared to what it can be. Attitudes change and people are inspired to create order and beauty for its own sake. But in this book, the only thing that seems to change is that there are more plants around. It would have been nice for the illustrations to show people painting, fixing, loving their city.

It's probably just the style of artwork that makes the illustrations seem dull. The large patches of muted and paled colors don't spread cheer, inspiration, activity or hope like they could.

Unfortunately, because of that, it becomes another boring children's book with a message, instead of an inspiring look at possibilities and love.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful illustrations and message, January 11, 2010
By 
This review is from: The Curious Garden (Hardcover)
Can we recycle our world? Liam finds we can by caring for the nature that tries to come back into our lives where we leave old and abandoned things from our lives. A beautiful story without beating us over the head about caring for the world around us and how that can lead to beauty again. Reminds me of an old story about a man who was a sort of Johnny Appleseed, an old shepherd that cared for his flock and planted trees in an old deforested area. Then in a few decades people found it and thought the forest had just reappeared on its own not realizing someone had carefully planted and cared for it. This book has the city with no gardens, and only gray skies. As the garden grows so does the color in the city. Even the sky turns to color again. Great book to teach about recycling and caring for the earth. Nice I spy sort of pictures as well as having an old style to the color and makeup of the pictures. This is a keeper. I plan to use it in my classroom.
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The Curious Garden
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown (Hardcover - April 1, 2009)
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