The GardenerSarah Stewart, along with her husband / illustrator David Small created The Gardener, which was originally released in the late 90’s (for which it received a Caldecott Honor). The Gardener tells the story of Lydia Grace, who, one fall during the Great Depression, moves from her country home to the city to live with her Uncle Jim while her own parents struggle to find work. Uncle Jim is a stoic baker with an apartment above his shop, but Lydia Grace’s passion is growing plants, fruits, vegetables, and gardens.

The Gardener is rated Buy Two! (One for You, One for a Friend)

The story is told through letters written by Lydia Grace to her family back home in the country. Throughout the year, Lydia Grace begins to grow plants around the bakery, bringing smiles to the faces of customers and city-dwellers throughout the otherwise gray metroplis. Ultimately, Lydia Grace builds an entire rooftop garden which finally puts a smile on Uncle Jim’s face, as well.

Small’s artwork is smooth and comforting, while Stewart’s emotional writing truly gives the reader the sense of nervousness in the big city, leading to the accomplishment of creating something beautiful.

The Gardener gives me chills almost every time I read it. There aren’t that many children’s books that evoke such emotion from adults, but this is one of them.