The Extraordinary Gardener

Joe has a vivid imagination which allows him to escape from his dreary, grey everyday world into a far more colourful and extraordinary one. One day, Joe gets an idea and he plants a tiny seed. Joe’s plant takes a long time to grow. He forgets about it and returns to the world of his imagination. However, things are happening.

In this lovely book there is a strong message about the importance of nature for our wellbeing. Another theme is the need to give children opportunities to daydream, and resources like books and art materials to nourish their imaginations. There is another message resonating also – that we have agency in our lives and the power to realise our dreams. Transformation can begin with one small idea and one little action, but it will also require time, patience and maybe, a bit of luck. Boughton is saying to children that they can actually transform their world.

Her illustrations are playful and are executed in the style of a child’s artwork, encouraging children to draw, paint, imagine and create. Using a mixture of bright, transparent colour washes, and thick, looping crayon and coloured pencil lines and shapes, she creates brilliant contrasts between the grey urban landscape and the multi-coloured world of nature. There are great splashes and splodges of colour and fabulously loose, scribbly lines that may convince children and their adults to get outside and get their hands dirty and make the world a more colourful place.