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

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Review: The Concrete Garden

Multi-awarding winning author/illustrator Bob Graham has released another soul-stirring picture book: The Concrete Garden. His teetering piles of published books include, April Underhill, Toothfairy, Home in the Rain, The Posey Ring and Ellie’s Dragon

This time it’s a gentle post-pandemic story set in an urban apartment block, at the end of COVID lockdown. Adults wear masks and children spill out from the apartment ‘like sweets from a box.’ Amanda brings the chalks and the desire to draw something. The narrative evolves as the concrete artwork grows.

Using carefully chosen words, the narrative offers layers of meaning. For instance, my three-year-old was captivated by the unfolding chalk drawing. Whereas my five-year-old felt the emotions of the story more keenly. Graham has expertly blended the themes of community spirit, optimism, and the power of creativity.

Graham’s mixed media illustrations, including washes of watercolour and delicate ink drawings support and enrich the narrative by conveying the mood. He has played with angles and viewpoints to provide readers with a fresh and dynamic look at the urban environment and also provided subtle representations of cultural diversity. 

The Concrete Garden will resonate with those who experienced the pandemic, especially those who were separated from loved ones. A hopeful story that will inspire rich conversations about the experiences of COVID lockdown.

What can I say, Bob Graham you’ve done it again! I think I’ll go get some chalk out and draw on the concrete with the kids.

Title: The Concrete Garden
Author/Illustrator: Bob Graham
Publisher: Walker Books Australia, $27.99
Publication Date: 1 August 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781529512649
For ages: 3-7
Type: Picture Book