Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mishan's Garden

What an awesomely crazy week it's been!  Filled with new hires, book exchange brunches, makeup parties, and cooking up a storm...now here I am, back to blogging; 30 years to the day after my parents got married...5 days before my one-year anniversary.  This is how awesome my parents are, guys...Smokey Bear came to their wedding!

Okay, okay.  Now back to bookishness :-)  I loved Mishan's Garden by James Vollbracht, illustrated by Janet Brooke.

In a cold, barren village where nothing grows, and no one is happy, lives a little girl named Mishan.  Mishan wants to grow a beautiful garden in this cold area, but is mocked by the villagers.  Eventually, the villagers soften, touched by Mishan's gift of spreading kindness and seeing what is best and unique about each person.

To be honest, I wasn't blown away by the cover.  I do tend to pick books (especially picture books) with some regard to the cover--I know, I know, bad librarian.  I had actually put off reviewing this book, because the cover didn't catch me.  That being said, I'm glad I opened it.  The story was beautiful.  The illustrations going with the story are also beautiful.  So much so that I went back and read the book two more times, and showed my husband different pictures.  

The artwork differs, alternating between full page illustrations and smaller drawings inserted into text.  And it's gorgeous.  My favorite illustration is toward the beginning- it shows Mishan up in the mountains, it's snowing, little boys are pointing and laughing at her.  The snowflakes in the picture break the 4th wall, and beautiful little Mishan, her black braid blowing in the wind, her cheeks rosy from the cold, still kneels- burying the seeds.  The beautiful blues, browns, and purples combine to make you feel the chill of the air, to picture a sun above...most all of the pictures feel as if they're moving.

I'd put this as allegory.  Mishan plants her seeds in the cold ground, and also spreads kindness around the cynical village.  Her kindness has a ripple effect resulting in a warmer, flourishing village.  It's got a bit of a sad, but very poignant ending. It conveys the message Mishan's father teaches her at the beginning, "...things are not always what they seem!"

So...read this book, to yourself, to a child...to anyone.  Then, go and spread seeds of kindness and see what grows!  (and wow that was cheesy...but I meant it!  Go! GO!)

Mishan's Garden is published by Wisdom Publications.  Digital ARC provided by NetGalley.
Release Date: 10.15.2013

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