PreSchool-Grade 1-When Mary, an apartment dweller, wishes for a garden to play in, her mother suggests that they make one in an old cooking pot. The resulting creation, depicted in Mavor's distinctive soft-sculpture artwork and creative stitching, is lush with flowers and trees, and bordered by a wall of painted hollyhocks. A matchstick bridge spans a sparkling blue-ribbon stream. Despite its beauty, Mary feels that something is missing. She fashions a clay figure whom she names Tom and peeks "over the hollyhock wall to see how the garden would look if it were a real garden, and big." Just then,"...somehow, some strange how, something strange happened...." Mary finds herself playing with Tom in the garden, until the boy climbs the hollyhock wall. The magical phrase appears a second time, and now Tom, having fallen out of the pot, is lifeless again, and Mary finds herself back in her room wondering if it was all a dream. The third time the phrase appears, Mary is visiting her granny and looks over a hollyhock wall into the garden next door. Tom is there to welcome her and the two children play. Here, the book abruptly ends. Readers are left to wonder about the source of the magic and whether Mary will have to stay in the garden. Or is it all a dream. The richly detailed illustrations may interest readers more than the story, which doesn't measure up to Waddell's well-loved earlier books.
Virginia Golodetz, Children's Literature New England, Burlington, VT
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