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on March 22, 2009
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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on April 20, 2009
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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on April 9, 2009
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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on March 30, 2009
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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on May 2, 2009
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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on April 9, 2009
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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VINE VOICEon July 26, 2009
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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on April 11, 2009
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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on August 25, 2015
Another great book by Peter Brown. The illustrations are really quite wonderful and the story moves quickly. It's about cultivating gardens within abandoned areas of the city and is based on a true story about an old railway in Brooklyn. It captivated my daughter and I like the message it sends about inspiring others to plant trees and encourage gardens and plant life to grow where it otherwise wouldn't, aka crowded cities.
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on March 24, 2016
I love this book! I work with beginning (1st and 2nd year) high school teachers to help them study their practice. Anyone who has taught before knows how incredibly difficult the first couple of years are. I use this book as a cathartic metaphor for teaching; I think this book gives voice to the many dreams, hopes, hardships, disappointments, etc. that beginning teachers face as they're able to identify with all of the different "characters" (garden, Liam, city people, etc.) in the book. Great for kids and adults alike!
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