Blog tour: ‘The Last Garden,’ by Rachel Ip, illustrated by Anneli Bray.

Today I’m sharing a beautiful picture book based on real events in Syria:

‘In a war-torn city, a little girl tends to the last garden. But everyone is leaving and soon the girl has to leave too. The garden is all alone now but soon the seeds scatter throughout the city and the roots take hold.

Inspired by true events in Syria and war gardens around the world and throughout history, The Last Garden is a thoughtful, tender story of hope, touching on issues of conflict and migration, from a talented debut picture book pairing.’

This is such a stunningly beautiful book. The illustrations are simply luminous – particularly the spreads where you see the war garden shining out from the ruins of the war-ravaged city.

Although this story is about people having to flee their homes to escape conflict, it differs to others I’ve read as it then has families returning to their dwellings once the danger has passed. The flowers in the garden may be broken and bent but they’re still blooming as the city and it’s inhabitants start to heal and regenerate.

I would definitely take the opportunity to use this book as a prompt for some very interesting discussions with children about what is happening in the illustrations – what can they see? Why is the garden there? Why are people leaving their homes? How might they be feeling? Books are such powerful tools for developing a reader’s sense of empathy for others.

A sensitively written and gorgeous book for readers aged 3+ (but I would definitely explore it with much older children too.)

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Hachette Children’s Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*

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