‘The Garden Of Hope,’ by Isabel Otter, illustrated by Katie Rewse.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the gorgeous ‘The Garden Of Hope’ which is the work of author, Isabel Otter and new illustrative talent, Katie Rewse.

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Things hadn’t been the same for Maya, Dad and Pip since Mum had been gone. They were a mess, the house was a mess and the garden was also a mess. Mum used to love the garden. Whenever she felt upset or anxious, she used to go outside and plant some seeds.

One day, when Maya was feeling sad, she and Dad spies some packets of seeds on the table and hatched a plan to grow away her worries and transform their long-neglected garden.

A truly beautiful story.  At the start, heavy with loss and sadness. At the end, full of beauty and hope. Although it’s not openly disclosed what has happened to Mum, what is apparent is that her absence is taking a heavy toll on the family she’s left behind.

The Garden Of Hope provides a safe way to discuss the loss or absence of a parent with children and opens up an opportunity to talk about some of the powerful and confusing emotions they might be feeling. It also suggests ways to process these emotions and provides hope that, although things may be looking bleak at the moment, things will get better and there are ways you can help yourself.

Gorgeous, soft and supportive with vibrant illustrations. A must-have for any child-based establishment or for any young person experiencing the issues discussed.

Another important theme which arises as a result of Maya’s gardening is that of encouraging wildlife and biodiversity.  As the flowers grow, insects come, followed by birds and even larger creatures.  Maya and Dad take great delight in the bounty of wildlife they discover.

Book Boy and Book Boy Jr. have been learning lots about minibeasts at school and have given me these excellent ideas to share with you which should encourage bugs and beasties of all kinds to visit your garden:

1. Build a bug hotel using whatever’s laying around: fir cones, pieces of bark, large stones, broken bricks or flower pots, old roof tiles are great for shade, and anything else you can find.  Choose a quiet spot and get building!

2. Plant lots of different flowers to attract different insect species.

3. Create a stick pile for insects to live in (this is one of their favourite things to do. We have several stick piles).

4. Have a bowl of water or bird bath out for birds and other creatures to enjoy.

5. Make your own fat balls for birds using a mixture of lard and seeds.  Shape using an empty yoghurt pot, thread a piece of string through the middle. Knot the end then chill until hardened.

All easy to do and a great way to spend a warm summer’s day.

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Leilah Skelton and Caterpillar Books for inviting me to be part of this blog tour*

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