The Garden We Share (Hardcover)
March/April 2022 Kids Indie Next List
“What a sweet, lovely, and colorful book! It teaches us about gardening and growing, but also about friendships, memories, and the impermanence of everything. A beautiful and touching book for young and old.”
— Sarah Fischer, Downbound Books, Cincinnati, OH
This inspiring picture book written by Zoë Tucker and illustrated by Julianna Swaney—the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines—celebrates the friendship between a young girl and an elderly woman as they plant seeds in a community garden alongside friends and neighbors, waiting for the seeds to flower. By mid-summer, the friends welcome a rainbow of color in the garden and picnics in the sun. At harvest, the young girl’s elderly friend is bed-ridden, but jubilant as they share baskets with red tomatoes and snap peas amid the sweet smell of lavender. When the last leaves fall, everything is different. But in the spring, hope arises anew.
Julianna Swaney illustrates children’s books for a living and couldn’t feel luckier to have such an amazing job. She is the illustrator of many books including #1 New York Times bestselling The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be by Joanna Gaines. Julianna lives with her partner in a 1911 craftsman bungalow in Portland, Oregon and loves reading 19th century literature written by women. This is her first book for NorthSouth. Visit her at JuliannaSwaney.com.
— Manhattan Book Review
Connection blooms between a child and elderly companion during a spring and summer spent tending to potted vegetables and flowers planted in a space between brick buildings. Beginning with seeds (“each little dot full of hope and promise”) the tan-skinned pair wait for shoots to emerge and “whisper stories to each one.” The book quickly pivots to a bountiful harvest shared with neighbors of varying ages and skin tones. As the duo companionably save seeds, the older companion works from bed, briefly and suddenly foreshadowing emotional concluding scenes that extend the book’s theme of seasonality as well as life and death. Tucker’s lyrical prose emphasizes sensory experience (“We lie on a blanket in the grass and/ listen to the gentle hum of the honeybee”), while delicate accompanying illustrations by Swaney are washed with sage green and accented by rust oranges and warm harvest reds.
— Publishers Weekly
The process of tending to a garden, and to friendships, is beautifully delineated as the women guide the girl through the stages of gardening and they all wait, visiting, napping, reading. The text conveys the sights, smells, and sounds of a garden, while the illustrations, done in pastels, feature the garden’s plenty in gorgeous detail.
Words and pictures work together seamlessly to connect the ending of the older woman’s life to the natural progressions of the world, such as the passing of the seasons. It’s handled with such sensitivity that younger readers will be able to take in exactly as much of this message as they are ready for. While many children’s books address the loss of a grandparent, the fact that the narrator’s relationship to her older friend is never specified allows for more points of identification, enabling The Garden We Share to guide young readers through a wider range of losses. The next spring, the narrator returns to the garden to plant the seeds she and her friend collected the previous year. “And as the morning air warms my heart, little shoots emerge like magic,” the narrator says, “And you are with me again.” The Garden We Share is a gentle book overflowing with big lessons about life and death, the importance of experiences shared and the multitude of ways that the earth sustains us, even through great loss.