Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Tokyo Digs a Garden

Hatanaka, Kellen (Illustrator)
Groundwood Books 2016. 32 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781554987986 (hardcover)
9781554987993 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

point of view, setting

Awards

Governor General’s Literary Award – 2016
TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award – Finalist – 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:

“Cities had to eat something, after all.” This call for a healthy environment is artful and eloquent in its language: “Tokyo gulped down his glass of water, pretending he was a city drinking up a deep cold lake.”

Graphic shapes create pristine scenes of Tokyo’s family life, and cityscapes with densely layered collage effects, full of beauty, wit and charm. One smoky cityscape is created with kitchen items: a carton of milk, a whisk and more. The last tree is hacked down by fork- and knife-wielding bulldozers.

Images grow more colourful as Tokyo’s magic garden infiltrates city structures. Cars float on a road transformed into a waterway. Mother huffs as she rows a boat to work. In one scene, Tokyo watches a rabbit creep from under a carpet; Kevin the cat claws Tokyo, to draw attention to the deer browsing behind them.

As bears climb telephone poles and sloths delay the elevators, the book’s message of balance and accommodation comes through. The final image is of clear, bright buildings, now bursting with foliage. The new canal carries rowboats, ducks and a hippo. The billboard has changed from burgers to fresh-grown vegetables. “Gardens have to grow somewhere, after all.”

  •  

    Have you ever planted a garden? Discuss the materials you need, the process and the necessary conditions.

  •  

    Talk about the setting shown on the first page. After reading, compare and contrast it with the depiction at the very end of the book. Where would you prefer to live?

  •  What is the importance of nature in urban communities? Do a group graffiti activity, brainstorming all the reasons gardens and parks should be protected and nurtured in cities.
  •  Brainstorm a list of green spaces in your community. Write and draw to show your favourite places to experience nature.
  •  

    From the cover alone, make predictions about the story. Later, as it is read aloud, compare your predictions with the actual story.

  •  

    Before reading, go for a picture walk. What do you notice?

  •  

    With a partner, compare and contrast life in Tokyo’s city before and after he planted his wishing seeds.

  •  

    If you had three wishing seeds to plant, what wishes would you make for the people and the space around you? What specific actions can you take to realize your wish? Outline a plan of action.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Science and Technology