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Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Night Gardener

Fan, Terry (Author / Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster 2016. 44 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781481439787 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

point of view, setting

Awards

The Forest of Reading – The Blue Spruce Award Winner – 2017
Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award – 2017

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

When young William peers out the window of the Grimloch Orphanage, he discovers a giant topiary of a wise owl, mysteriously created in the night. Every morning, more delightful and fantastical creatures appear in the trees: a hare, an elephant and a Chinese dragon. One night, William encounters the artist, who works alone in the shadows. He takes the young boy along on an adventure and trains him to make the glorious creatures out of foliage to entertain the town after he, the night gardener, has moved on.

Stunningly detailed illustrations, in fine pencil with digital colouring, depict the neighbourhood in greys, greens and blues until they finally bloom into a multi-coloured celebration. This progression of colour depicts the town’s transformation and that of the lonely little boy at its centre.

Text is assured, simple and direct, telling the story with a great deal of warmth: “The wise owl had appeared overnight, as if by magic. William spent a whole day staring at it in wonder.” With only one or two lines per page, the narrative is often driven forward by the visual storytelling. Ellipses create anticipation, making this a true page-turner.

A beautiful and sensitively told tale of a little boy and his town, both changed forever by the kindness and magic of an older mentor.

Elementary English Language Arts Activities
  •  

    Compare the illustration on the copyright page with the one on the second-last page of the book. What might have happened to cause this change in the community?

  •  

    The topiary art improves the lives of the people on Grimloch Lane. What type of art makes you feel happy?

  •  

    What kind of topiary art would you create in your schoolyard or neighbourhood? Draw and write about what you would create and why.

Elementary English as a Second Language Activities
  •  

    Go for a picture walk and make predictions about the story. Discuss the use of colour. As the story is read aloud, revisit your predictions.

  •  

    Make a class list of beautiful spaces to be found in your area. Find out who is responsible for them and, where possible, send a note explaining why you appreciate a particular space.

  •  

    Discuss how some of the greyer spaces around your school or neighbourhood could be improved. Create a plan with precise suggestions. Include ideas for your own involvement in the project. Write a persuasive letter to your principal, local councillor or mayor to get your project underway.


Cross-Curricular Competencies

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To use creativity

Broad Area of Learning

  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities

Subject Areas

  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Visual Arts

Companion Books