Terry Fan and Eric Fan, The Night Gardener, Murdoch Books/Allen & Unwin, Feb 2017, 48pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781847809391
Grimloch Lane is a dreary, colourless place. One morning, William wakes to find that a tree outside his orphanage window has been transformed into a topiary owl, as if by magic! Each morning a new creature appears. A friendly rabbit, a pretty parakeet and a playful elephant all appear on the street. As each new sculpture attracts a crowd, the community is brought together. At the end, William meets the Night Gardener and helps him transform Grimloch Park.
The Night Gardener is a beautiful, whimsical tale. It is a story about imagination, creativity and gardening, and their ability to bring people together, inspire happiness and engender positive change. There is subtle reference to the seasons, the passing of time and celebration, which creates further opportunities for discussion with young readers. The text is sparse but perfectly written to draw the child in and convey the magic of the story. Detailed use of pen and ink, and graphite mediums create magnificent illustrations that convey mystery and wonder, moving through grey-scale and sepia scenes to pictures bursting with joyful colour.
This is the first picture book by Eric and Terry Fan, an absolute gem of a book, and I can’t wait to see more of their work. I highly recommend this book for children around 3-7 years of age.
Reviewed by Rebecca Blakeney