The Last Garden


Zara tends The Last Garden in the war torn city. Through greyness and darkness, this is an oasis, where fig trees and pear trees grow, from which children take flowers to their ‘broken homes‘ and fruit to their friends in hospital.

This is a place of sanctuary, where they might climb and play and grow seeds in ‘old tin cans and rusty paint pots’.

Therefore, when the war comes so close that they must leave their homes and city, the garden lies ‘empty and alone’. What is the future for Zara’s garden? What might be found in The Last Garden should the city ever be full again?

Rachel Ip’s story is fulsome, meaningful, inspirational and laden with meaning. Thereafter Anneli Bray’s pictures are lush, emotional and hopeful…. Bookwagon loves this beautiful picture book. We recommend The Last Garden for reading at home and school.

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The Last Garden

Rachel Ip and Anneli Bray


Although the city is ‘grey and sad‘, Zara’s patch is ‘bright and beautiful‘ This oasis is The Last Garden left. What’s more through war, Zara continues to ‘look after her garden’. There are ‘pear trees and nut trees and flowers and herbs’. Thereafter Zara grows ‘figs and apricots and all kinds of vegetables‘. These are shared with ‘the people of our city’. 
Zara offers hope in her garden, through allowing the city children to ‘climb trees and build dens’, helping ‘water the plants’ or picking fruit. The flowers are taken home to ‘broken houses, while the figs and pears were carried to ‘friends in hospital’. However war draws so close that the garden must be tied up, picked and packed away, while new seeds are planted ‘in old tin cans and rusty paint pots‘. Might it be that the plants could continue to ‘grow green and bright’ through the devastation of greyness and sadness? When it becomes too dangerous and everyone leaves the city, Zara’s garden is alone, abandoned. Yet, might it be growing? What could be found should the city return?
Rachel Ip’s storytelling is so hopeful and inspiring as we realise from her dazzling picture book, The Forgettery. Here she collaborates with empathetic, nurturing illustrator Anneli Bray, who worked so beautiful with Peter Bunzl upon Featherlight.
Bookwagon is encouraged and uplifted by The Last Garden, from the celebration of the efforts, to its message and telling. What’s more, we recommend this beautiful picture book as a title to be shared at bedtime and in classroom reading.


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