'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 8 November 2010

Review: Isabella's Garden

Of course, I had heard about Isabella’s Garden for so so long and reading it for the first time over a year since publication is just one of those things that sometimes happens in the life of a book lover/reviewer who faces a mountain of glorious books daily.

I also get nervous about reviewing books that I’ve heard about and heard about because I worry they won’t live up the hype.

Happily, Isabella’s Garden is as delightful and colourful and rhythmic as I’ve heard for over a year now.

Modelled on the cadence of The House That Jack Built, we follow Isabella as she sows her seeds, dances with umbrellas and gumboots as the clouds soak the seeds, plucks the flowers, flies kites, plays in the tree top with her friends and moves through the seasons until her garden bed is ready to plant all over again.

The messaging of life and new life is beautifully presented in this book, and Millard’s prose is elegantly, rhythmically crafted into a storyline that is exquisite and somewhat emotional to read. Her choice of descriptive words is truly what children need poured into their ears.

I must admit, though, The House That Jack Built, The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and similar books that use a large amount of repetitive text used to undo me at reading time with my own kids. I certainly love these books but the repetitiveness and bulk of the text can be really intimidating, especially if you are trying to captivate restless children or a large audience.

I know and appreciate that kids thrive on and adore repetitive text, which is why these books do succeed, but I’ll be really honest here and say that unless it’s superbly written, reading such books aloud (especially repeatedly!) can be migraine-inducing.

Thankfully, Millard writes superbly and her take on the text in Isabella’s Garden works well. Plus, as winter approaches, she mixes up the ending of the book as though she too inherently feels the need to cut another repetitive round of text.

Rebecca Cool’s superb, folksy illustrations are a riot of colour and beauty, deliciously housing Millard’s text and offering kids the perfect visual casing to this gorgeous book – a beautiful tribute to a much-loved little girl.

Title: Isabella’s Garden
Author: Glenda Millard
Illustrator: Rebecca Cool
Publisher: Walker Books, A$27.95RRP
Publication Date: 1 September 2009
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781921150333
For ages: 2-8
Type: Picture Book