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The Imaginary Garden Hardcover – Mar 1 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press (March 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554532795
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554532797
  • Product Dimensions: 26.2 x 0.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Quill & Quire

The intense sensory pleasure of a grandparent’s garden is among many people’s earliest memories. And the loss of a garden, like Eden, is one of the most powerful human stories. Nonetheless, grandparents often have to move into apartments, the garden gets left behind, and what are we to do? Poppa and his granddaughter Theo come up with an excellent solution in this engaging picture book by Toronto author Andrew Larsen, aided by the exuberant pictures of fellow Torontonian Irene Luxbacher. Leaving the tree-and-flower-filled garden of his old house for an apartment balcony that is too windy for flowers, and rejecting the notion of plastic flowers, Poppa is bereft – at least until Theo’s suggestion of an imaginary garden gives him an idea. On a large piece of canvas set out on the balcony, he and Theo paint a lovely garden, with wall, soil, vines, birds, bulbs, and plants that change with the seasons. At first, Theo works under Poppa’s tutelage, learning to mix paints and add the garden elements, but when he goes away and leaves her in charge, she manages to move the plants into the next season, and to paint in a couple of wooden chairs so she and Poppa can eventually – in their imagination, at least – sit and enjoy their handiwork. The Imaginary Garden affirms both a warm bond between grandparent and child and the transformative power of the creative imagination. The interaction between Poppa and Theo is skillfully sketched: Poppa can take an idea from Theo (after gently dismissing a couple of others) and build upon it, eventually giving her the tools to work her own magic. In the early pictures, the warm colours of their creations contrast with the black and white of the bare balcony, but their vitality soon spreads over the whole page as the garden blooms.


As fresh and vibrant as a spring bouquet, this joyous offering will delight children, particularly young artists, throughout the year.

... sweet and visually appealing ...

More than the gardening or even the flowers, the dance of imagination between grandfather and grandchild is sweetly filigreed across the pages.

The Imaginary Garden affirms both a warm bond between grandparent and child and the transformative power of the creative imagination.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
Theo is blessed to have a very special relationship with her grandfather, Poppa. When Poppa moves into an apartment, they decide to create an imaginary garden on his balcony. The first Saturday of spring is marked by the arrival of a giant, blank canvas. Before long, Poppa and Theo have created a long stone wall and beautiful blue sky. Soon they have added beautiful spring flowers to their masterpiece. When Poppa leaves for a holiday, Theo worries about tending their special garden by herself. With gentleness and love, Poppa assures her that she will know what will nurture their imaginary garden.

Note: The publisher provided a review copy of The Imaginary Garden
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This was a delightful tale of a special, loving relationship that a child has with her grandfather! Oct. 17 2009
By D. Fowler - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Theo and Poppa just loved sitting in their Adirondack chairs admiring the flowers as the sat under the big maple tree. There were all kinds of them and the swirls of color brightened their days together. Even a butterfly and a bumble bee flitted around enjoying them, but something was about to change. Poppa was going to leave his little house and garden and was going to move to an apartment. The new place had a wrought iron fence unlike the picket one and there wasn't a flower to be seen. Only a little old ugly leaf and that wasn't much to look at. There was one thing Poppa and Theo planned and that was their imaginary garden.

Poppa got out his drawing board, paints and brushes and the two of them pulled up their chairs and began drawing. When spring came, they were out on the balcony ready to begin. There was a huge canvas and paints that he bought for them. They were all dressed up with matching garden hats and ready to create their imaginary garden. "Let's put a stone wall at the back of the garden . . . the vines will need to hold onto something as they reach for the sun." They began to draw the garden wall and mixed some "green, some red and some blue" to make brown. The garden was growing, but Poppa had to go away for a while. Would Theo be able to manage the garden on her own?

This was a delightful tale of a special, loving relationship that a child has with her grandfather. The "imaginary" garden was an absolutely ingenious way that their gardening relationship could continue even though her grandfather was no longer in his country home and had to move to an apartment. Children will not only learn a bit about drawing things like flowers, but will also learn about how colors are mixed and how to draw a simple bird. The artwork is whimsical and the flower gardens are vibrant and alive with color. If you don't garden with a young child, you will enjoy this book, but if you do you will be thrilled!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
beautiful illustrations and story Nov. 27 2009
By Make it Funny - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The story is about a grandfather moving into an apartment that does not have a garden. He and his granddaughter decided to paint a garden to place in the balcony. The story goes through what they painted and how they created the garden. THe graphics in the whole book is really pretty. ANd the story of the grandpa and granddaughter is sweet too.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Inspiring illustrations July 1 2009
By Lisa Barker - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Loved the story, loved the illustrations - colorful, just gorgeous. Don't just read this one, get out the paints and brushes and try painting like Theo and her Poppa do.
A sweet book and beautiful illustrations June 28 2011
By Chiara H. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is very sweet; you can feel the love between Theo and her Poppa. I love how he prepares the garden for her to work on while he is away, and how she adds her own special touches. It's a great story!