Gardens: On Book Covers and in Stories…

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It’s 35 degrees today, so it’s understandably hard to believe that warmer days are just around the corner, but at least flowers are blooming on book covers. Looking at a display earlier this week, it was reassuring to see that even though it’s grey and chilly outside, there is color in the bookstore:

One of the novels I most enjoyed reading during graduate school was Philippa Pearce’s 1958 fantasy, Tom’s Midnight Garden. It was a book that I missed as a child, and I was happy to see it on a class syllabus. It’s a magical story of Tom, a boy whose younger brother gets measles, and so in order to escape the contagious illness, Tom’s parents send him to his aunt and uncle’s country house. Tom expects life to be quite dull, of course, but when he hears the grandfather clock chime 13 times, he knows there’s a possibility of adventure. Creeping downstairs so he’s not detected by his aunt and uncle, Tom discovers a garden where he meets a girl named Hatty. The garden – and Hatty – do not exist in “Tom’s time” though. He is in the Victorian era, and during his trips to the garden, Hatty grows up. There are elements of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic, The Secret Garden, in Pearce’s novel. Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, has called Tom’s Midnight Garden “a perfect book.”

With that as a background, I was looking forward to French artist, Edith’s, new graphic novel adaptation of Pearce’s book.  I read it earlier today and it did not disappoint. In fact, it made me think that I may be able to entice some students to read the graphic novel version and then perhaps encourage them to read the original.  It also makes me want to re-read it.

Last weekend, I arrived early at Lucky Finn to meet a friend for coffee, and was greeted by this scene:

I didn’t know the people, and so of course, I introduced myself and asked permission to take their picture. We had a wonderful time talking about The Wild Robot, and realizing that we had several friends in common.  It was a moment that made me think of this short piece in Naomi Shihab Nye’s book, Honeybee: 

One of the many joys of my work is finding notes from students on my desk. This past week’s note was one of my favorites:

The best part of her note is the word “desparate.” What reader hasn’t experienced that panic when you realize you don’t have a book to read? During our spring break, this student’s mother sent me two pictures of her daughter enjoying vacation – reading on the beach and during dinner.

When we were in Italy last month, I was looking at a glazed terra-cotta sculpture by della Robbia. It was an out-of-the-way room in a museum. There were only three of us in this particular gallery when I happened to turn around and catch life imitating art:

Happy Reading – and Napping!



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