'There was once a little gardener and his garden meant everything to him. He worked hard, very hard, but he was just too little (or at least he felt he was).'
If, like me, you spend a good deal of time wondering what it might be like to be shorter than a blade of grass, Emily Hughes' ‘The Little Gardener’ is a very gratifying read. The story follows a gardener who is, as the name suggests, very little. Alone but for the company of an adorable pet worm, the Little Gardener has a pretty tough time getting his garden to grow. Gardening is difficult enough for a semi-adult human, so imagine how hard it must be when your hands are so small that you can pet an earth worm as if it were a dog. One day, a single flower is enough to inspire an act of kindness that ultimately changes the Little Gardener's circumstances. Without giving too much away, in the end he gets a badass garden and you get left with a warm feeling in your heart space.
Emily Hugh’s illustrations are decorative and full of detail. Even the illustrations that depict a dying garden have an eerie beauty to them. She employs what looks to be a combination of graphite, pastel, watercolour and digital illustration. Lush drawings feather out to a clean white edge with the text placed below; a layout reminiscent of more traditional picture book designs like 'Orlando the Marmalade Cat'.
Emily Hughes has some other super cool stories out including ‘Wild’ and ‘A Brave Bear', both well worth a read.
Buy it? I already did...
Flying Eye Books, 2015. New paperback edition now available from Ekor Book Shop Cafe.