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The Gardener

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  5,417 Ratings  ·  425 Reviews
By the author-and-illustrator team of the bestselling The Library

Lydia Grace Finch brings a suitcase full of seeds to the big gray city, where she goes to stay with her Uncle Jim, a cantankerous baker. There she initiates a gradual transformation, bit by bit brightening the shop and bringing smiles to customers' faces with the flowers she grows. But it is in a secret place
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published August 30th 1997 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published August 30th 1996)
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(showing 1-30)
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Aug 25, 2011 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
I loved this story! Sarah Stewart & David Small did an amazing job communicating the story line from before the story began until after the story was over, every page is telling the story!

Set in the 1930's Depression era, we meet a young girl, Lydia Grace Finch, who lives with her Mother, Father & Grandmother in a rural town. Lydia loves gardening - the beauty of her garden is her escape and way of dealing with the difficulties of life around her. With both of her parents being out of w
Jun 04, 2009 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kathryn by: Chandra, thank you!
Another winner from the husband-wife team of Stewart and Small. The illustrations in this one are what really captivated me, but I appreciated all the letters, too (the story is told entirely of letters) and found it at once a poignant and marvelously hopeful sort of story. It takes place during the depression and shows the all-too-common story of a young girl being sent to stay with distant relatives because the parents cannot afford to keep her with father out of work. Her uncle, a baker, neve ...more
I love to garden. Weeds. Dirt. Seeds. Birds on the fence. Neighbors walking by and saying hello. I am in my element. So when I discovered THE GARDENER I had to read the book.

It is a lovely children's story that takes place during the Depression. Lydia Grace Finch's parents and grandmother are having a tough go so they send her to the city to live with her Uncle Jim. He is a baker but he never smiles.

Lydia Grace more than makes up for his solemnness. Soon flowers and vegetables are growing every
L12_luisespinoza Espinoza
Jan 31, 2012 L12_luisespinoza Espinoza rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This is a charming, touching story set in the era of the Great Depression. It tells of a little girl named Lydia Grace who is probably between 8-12 yrs old (the book does not specify her age). She lives out in the country with her Grandma, Papa, and Mama and loves to work in the garden with her Grandma. One day, she is told by her Grandma that she will be moving to the city (NYC)to live with her Uncle Jim and work in his bakery to help her family financially and as stated in the book, "until thi ...more
Lisa Vegan
May 21, 2009 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of beautiful picture books & cats & historical fiction stories & gardening & baking
I loved this team’s book The Library and so I wanted to read this book too. This is another gem of a book from this pair, as utterly charming as the other book. I will definitely make a point to read all of Stewart-Small created books.

The illustrations are completely delightful; I just loved them. They would make the book sing all on their own, even without the story.

The story is told via Lydia Grace’s letters, first to her uncle, then back home to her parents and grandmother, and they made me f
May 20, 2013 Tatiana rated it really liked it
The Gardener is both historical fiction and a concept book for writing letters. Set during the Great Depression, young Lydia Grace writes home to her Mama, Papa, and Grandma from the city where she is staying with her Uncle Jim while her parents sort things out in the country. Lydia Grace helps out at her Uncle Jim's bakery, goes to school, and secretly gardens on the roof of the building. Her green thumb becomes well-known, but none more than those closest to her.

There are many good picture bo
Jessica Hanley
Sep 26, 2009 Jessica Hanley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This magical story captivated my attention from the first page. Lydia Grace is sent to live with ther uncle during the Great Depression, and her story is told through a series of letters written home. Her missions are to make her grouchy uncle smile, as well as nurture her growing green thumb by creating a rooftop garden. The use of letters are a narrative is quite attention getting and helps to give insight into her private thoughts as well. Lydia Grace's cheerful and confident spirit in tumult ...more
Sarah-Rae Bugayong
Sep 09, 2011 Sarah-Rae Bugayong rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I adored The Gardener, it is a magnificent book that can teach children to always preserve. I loved Lydia Grace's determination that pushed her to plant a garden and make her Uncle Jim smile. I also admired her patience, she seemed to have so much for a young child. Gardening takes a lot of time, and it was so admirable to see how hard she worked on that roof garden, her love for plants and her family really made me smile.
The pictures in this book are phenomenal as well. I loved how Small put s
**** Caldecott Honor (1998) ****

This is one of the most wonderful and heart-warming picture books I have ever read. Absolutely splendid. You cannot help but get a little misty eyed at the beauty and love brought by one little girl into the lives and the world around her. This may be the best picture book I've seen in recent memory.
I hadn't realized that David Small won a Caldecott Honor in addition to his Caldecott Medal for So You Want to be President? I always love his illustrations, and The Gardener is no exception. As in all good picture books, the illustrations in this tell as much of the story as the text. Make sure you notice all of the illustrations, even those at the beginning and end that don't have accompanying text.

The story is told in letters written by Lydia Grace Finch to family members – first to her Uncl
Apr 06, 2010 Dolly rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
A gorgeous tale of an enthusiastic and loving young girl who experiences hardship at a very young age, but handles it with grace and a sunny disposition that brings joy to the people in her life. The way she transforms her little spot in the city (and indeed, her Uncle's Bakery) is both uplifting and beautiful. The illustrations are fantastic and make you want to go out and plant a garden. A rare 5 star rating. We absolutely loved this book.

This book was selected as one of the books for the May
Rachel Kinney
Jan 28, 2017 Rachel Kinney rated it liked it
Shelves: kidlit
I read this story for one of the historical fiction books. This story is about The Great Depression and is about a little girl who is sent to live with her uncle, who is a baker. in the city because her dad lost his job. Her grandma sends seeds with her and continues to mail them to her with letters while she is in the city because her grandma is the reason she loves gardening. The story is written in letter format from Lydia Grace to her uncle and then after she moves from Lydia Grace to her fa ...more
Este libro lo lei hoy en una feria del libro en mi ciudad. Las ilustraciones son muy bonitas y el formato de cartas muy bonito. Estuvo bien, no es nada maravilloso pero es bonito. Muy cortito para mi gusto y quizá debieron ser más extensas las cartas.

2.5 Estrellas!
Feb 09, 2014 Jenny rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-story
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Foeller
Feb 15, 2017 Jennifer Foeller rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-02toread
Nice book about depression-era changes in family life. It's one of those books where you can take more time to describe what the depression was about or you can just leave as it's described and talk more about it another time. Illustrations tell a lot of the story. The story portion is told in the form of letters that she writes to her parents and grandmother.

It's a good story, but fairly light on details. You almost get the idea that she doesn't really know what is going on. But, I suppose par
Aug 02, 2014 Virginia rated it really liked it
Recommended to Virginia by: Interactive Read Alouds
The Gardener is the story of Lydia Grace, a girl who leaves her parents and grandmother to go live with her uncle in the city and help in his bakery during the Great Depression. The story is told in Lydia Grace's letters to her uncle and to her family members, but it is also told quite eloquently in the illustrations (which helped earn the book a Caldecott honor medal). Lydia Grace learns to be a good baker, but her real love is gardening; she uses her talent with growing things to make the worl ...more
Nov 03, 2009 529_Gary rated it really liked it
This book gives a tale of how a young girl is sent to the city to live with her uncle. She will be living with her uncle, until things get better at home. She is to help the uncle with his business. He is in the baking business. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is that the story is told in a series of letters. The girl, Lydia is always interested in helping people. She helps people by giving them plants (seedlings). She gets the seedlings from her grandmother, back home. It turns ...more
Amber Goebel
Jan 21, 2017 Amber Goebel rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidlit
Sarah Stewart tells the story of one family affected by The Great Depression using letters from a young girl. I really enjoyed the letter format of this book. It gave the narrator a chance to tell a more in-depth, personal account of her experience. I also enjoyed the positive outlook of the narrator in this story. The illustrations by David Small provide a lot of background detail to accompany the letters. I think The Gardener is a great book for introducing the Depression to young children and ...more
Terri Lynn
Mar 27, 2012 Terri Lynn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, children
What a lovely concept! A little girl has to go stay with her uncle who owns a bakery during the war and takes seeds with her to plant a garden. The bakery and house are in New York city so there is no garden plot but this creative child manages to find ways to plant seeds and plants in all sorts of ways and form a roof garden as a surprise for the uncle who never smiles. The story is told through letters written by the little girl back to her parents. This is so nicely done, I can't wait to shar ...more
Courtney Barter
Jan 23, 2017 Courtney Barter rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidlit
Lydia Grace Finch is a little girl whose family is greatly affected by The Great Depression. Her father loses his job and her family sends her to live with her Uncle Jim in the "big gray city." In the midst of so much struggle, she strives to make the world around her beautiful and happy with her gardening skills. I love the illustrations. Seeing the black and white photos and then the bursts of colorful flowers are beautiful. Historical Fiction.
Feb 19, 2010 Libby rated it it was amazing
Loved the illustrations! What a fun little book about gardening in New York CIty. The book follows a little girl living with her Uncle who is a baker. The top of their apartment has a vacant space on top and she surprises her Uncle with a beautiful garden. The story is told through letters to her parents.
Aug 18, 2010 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I loved everything about this book. The illustrations are wonderful - the more I looked the more I saw. The story of Lydia Grace is one of courage, enthusiasm and love of her family, gardening and her Uncle Jim. Lots to be learned from this story.
Sep 01, 2014 Rodolfo rated it really liked it
Clever. Touching.
Oct 09, 2010 Magda rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, to-re-read
I just really liked it.
Apr 26, 2015 Nancy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Nancy by: A Mighty Girl
Shelves: children-s, favorites
Such a beautiful book. It is a Caldecott Honor Book. I loved the epistolary format. Lydia Grace is a child to be admired and emulated by anyone.
Alexandra Henry
Mar 14, 2017 Alexandra Henry rated it it was amazing
Lydia Grace Finch is a young girl who is sent to live with her uncle Jim and live above his bakery. In her suitcase, she filled it to the top with flower seeds. Throughout the story, you see that Lydia is incredibly into gardening. She loves the effect her flowers have on the people around her. Her biggest goal is to make her uncle smile and become truly happy from the inside out. She creates a special place just for her uncle.

I really enjoyed this story. It was based off The Great Depression an
May 08, 2017 Callie rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
The Gardener is a touching story about a kind hearted young girl, Lydia Grace, who has a passion for gardening and is sent from her home to live with her Uncle Jim. Lydia Grace's family has fallen on hard times and her Uncle Jim, a baker living in the city, has agreed to give Lydia Grace a job and take care of her. The story follows Lydia Grace through her letters home as she details how she uses her passion for gardening to bring joy to those around her. Winner of the Caldecott Honor Medal, The ...more
Bailey Bach
Mar 14, 2017 Bailey Bach rated it liked it
This story takes place during the Great Depression. A young girl named Lydia Grave Finch moves to the city to live with her Uncle Jim because her father had lost his job and times are tough for the family. She moves to the city until times get better for the family. Upon arriving to the city, Lydia notices that Uncle Jim never smiles. She makes it her goal to get him to crack a smile. One of Lydia's favorite things to do is to garden. She used to garden with her grandma back home and she continu ...more
Hyesu Kang
Mar 19, 2017 Hyesu Kang rated it really liked it
The Gardener is a one book about making beautiful garden in gray city during depression. Grace’s parents are out of work. Thus, Parents send to Grace to her Uncle Jim. After that, she made garden in secret place. Lydia Grace Finch brings a suitcase a lot of seeds to the big gray city. Even though her uncle live in apartment, she made garden top of the apartment. Actually, her uncle usually doesn’t smile, but Grace gave smile to her uncle because of garden.
Actually, I believe it is story about
Goshen PL Childrens
#92 in School Library Journal's Top 100 Picture Books

I think is my favorite of Sarah Stewart book! I love how the story is told in letters from Lydia Grace. The pictures fit perfectly with the story sprinkling in color and life. A perfect combination of Stewart & Small.
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Caldecott winner Historical Fiction Review 1 4 Jul 02, 2012 01:13PM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Wife of famed illustrator, David Small, Sarah Stewart has written a number of children's books. She grew up in Texas, and lives in Michigan with her husband.
More about Sarah Stewart...

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