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The Gardener

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  6,229 ratings  ·  508 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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4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,229 ratings  ·  508 reviews

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Now with regard to Sarah Stewart's The Gardener, I indeed adore Lydia Grace Finch as a character, as main protagonist, as well as her 1930's (and always supplied with a date) letters to her family back "home" (sweet and descriptive little epistles that truly and glowingly show an authentic feeling sense of time and place, including her impressions of her new urban life, and indeed of having to get used to new surroundings, even if Lydia's move to the city to stay with her uncle is temporary and ...more
Lisa Vegan
May 21, 2009 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
Aug 25, 2011 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 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
Robert Davis
**** 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.
Inspiring and beautiful. I love classic children's books like this.
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 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
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think I enjoyed this even more than I did The Library. Just lovely. I especially loved the last illustration after the text was over - a tear came to my eye just as one did to Emma's.

Btw, I really appreciate that Ed and Emma are what would have been called then 'Negro.' It's so nice to see that not everyone was hatefully racist, even back then.

edit - I shared this with my family (all adult males) before returning it to the library, and they liked it too.
Apr 06, 2010 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
Jessica Hanley
Sep 26, 2009 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 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
May 20, 2013 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
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pic-books, caldecott
I read this once and promptly turned to the beginning and read it again, more slowly with more attention to the details. The text is sparse but when combined with the art, the story deepens and the reader gets a better sense of time, place, and the personalities of the main characters (especially Uncle Jim). The young girl is upbeat, caring, and has a passion that keeps her busy and occupies her thoughts. (I want all of the kids to have interests beyond electronics, so I'm always on the lookout ...more
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
Aug 18, 2010 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.
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Behind many of those nondescript smaller apartment buildings in NYC that are now fast disappearing is a real surprise. The two back ground floor apartments have really nice sized garden out their back door. A friend of mine has her office in one of those buildings on the Upper East Side, and this weekend, I spent some time going to garden centers in Connecticut and helping her pick out some new plants for her backyard garden.

When I got home, I pulled out my copy of The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
Set during The Great Depression, this story is told through letters from Lydia Grace, a little girl who is sent to live with her uncle in the city, away from her parents and her grandmother, who has taught her to garden. But Grandmother sends her with packets of seeds, and bulbs for a Christmas present, and seedlings in the mail, and Lydia Grace takes over the window boxes of the apartment building she lives in, and the transforms the rooftop in a garden in the city.

You really can't go wrong wit
Rachel Kinney
Jan 28, 2017 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
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the way this story introduces history in a way that interested the kids. The pictures tell a story in themselves and the kids scrambled to see. My daughter her last bed to both bake and garden thought it was wonderful! Will probably visit this one again.
Jody Ruff
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Gardner is a Historial fiction book, that is a favourite of mine to read. The author wrote this book about Lydia Grace writing letters to her family when the Great Depression was going on. Lydia Grace was sent to her Uncle's house to learn a trade. She enjoys learning new things from her Uncle and meets new friends. This is one of my favourite books to read to my class or sometimes to myself.
Julia Burford
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautiful story through letters. My kids sat enthralled as I read this.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story, even for those who don't garden. :) Love the message of spreading beauty and hope through planting flowers.
Andrea Wright
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A cute book that made me a bit sad at first and then all the flowers were so wonderful for the city folks that I couldn't help but be happier. Just wish they had let the Uncle smile at least once!
Cris Ingram
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lydia Grace goes to live with her uncle , the baker, in the city and learns how to bake. In her spare time she plants seeds everywhere she can find something to put dirt and seeds in. Her secret place is on the roof of the building that she lives in the apartment over the bakery. The word gets around that the "gardener" is growing flowers everywhere. She surprises her uncle with a rooftop full of flowers and she surprises her with a cake and....
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
Very sweet story of girl who goes to live in the city with her uncle because her father is out of work and her family cannot afford to keep her at home in the country. Her uncle in the city owns a bakery and she works in the bakery while still managing to do the gardening she enjoys. The story is told in letters written to her family back in the country...
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!
Melissa Goembel
The gardener is based in depression era America. The family cannot support Lydia and choose to send her to live with Uncle Jim. He owns a bakery in a city; where the economy is better. She is going to learn various lessons including learning to bake, creating a garden in the city, and the ability to connect with others. This is a great read and shows what families did sacrifice in the 1930’s.
Agata Wilusz
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Told through letters, The Gardener tells the story of Lydia Grace who moves from home to the big city to help make money for her family through the great depression. While not much historical information is given through the text, the reader is able to use the illustrations to support the setting and get a feel for life in the 1930s.
Taylor Hart
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ed-204-books
The Gardener is a story set in 1935 about a little girl who, at the beginning of the story lives with her mama, papa, and grandma, but has to move to another town to live with her uncle. She is sent to live with her uncle for awhile until her family is able to get on their feet again. The little girl, whose name is Lydia, is nervous to stay with her uncle because she has never met him before. She encounters quite a few struggles on her journey and at her new home but the things that stays consta ...more
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Caldecott winner Historical Fiction Review 1 6 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.