William wakes up one morning to discover that the tree outside his window has been changed into an owl topiary. Day by day, more topiary appear along Grimloch Lane. There is a cat, a rabbit, a parakeet, and an elephant. Then one day, there is a dragon, that inspires the community to hang lanterns in its branches and along the road. It is that night that William notices a stranger with a ladder walking along. He follows the man to the local park where the man turns and invites William to help him. It is the night gardener and William helps him until he falls asleep. The next morning William awakens to see the park transformed by his work. As seasons change, the topiary disappear but the community spirit doesn’t.
This is one beautiful book. The text is simple, allowing the detailed illustrations to shine. Still, the text has gorgeous moments such as William watching the first topiary until it was too dark to see it anymore. This book is slow and steady, magical but also homely. It is filled with community spirit that readers can watch build steadily as the night gardener gives his gifts.
The community spirit is shown as homes with boarded-up windows turn into a dynamic community right before their eyes. The illustrations are beautiful, filled with touches that show the where the gardener gets his inspiration. The illustrations tell much of the story, showing that William lives in an orphanage and vividly demonstrating the inspiration a community can get from art.
A gorgeous and vibrant read, this book can be paired nicely with Lane Smith’s Grandpa Green for a topiary triumph. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.