Mrs Noah’s Garden
Mrs Noah’s Garden
Jackie Morris, illus. James Mayhew, Burley Gate, Herefordshire: Otter-Barry Books, hb. 978 1 9109 5946 6, 2020, £12.99, 40pp.
Fiction, picture book, 3+ years
Now that the ark has landed, it’s time to make a home. As Mr Noah turns their vessel into a house, Mrs Noah sets about growing a fabulous garden… and a new addition to the family.
While this book can happily be read in isolation, it follows the very successful Mrs Noah’s Pockets, acting as the next part of Mrs Noah’s all-embracing, life-loving story. After the flood, Mrs Noah looks out across the landscape of her new home and realises she misses her garden. With the help of her children and magical creatures, she brings life to the land using plants from the ark and the seeds she has saved in her numerous pockets. She almost dances through the pages, growing flowers and bowers and beans and peas, as Mayhew’s beautiful collages repeatedly reference music, through movement and bells and snippets of musical scores. That such spirited illustrations should have blossomed from Morris’s visual, melodious writing is hardly a surprise and this book is a pleasure to read out loud.
Although his wife is foregrounded throughout, text and image work together to convey Mr Noah’s love and admiration for his clever, creative partner. Curious creatures underline the importance of inclusivity while rippling skies and hazy blue tones speak of hope, calling to mind the receding waters and a new dawn. By the time the sun blazes on a burgeoning garden, we discover that Mrs Noah has also been growing life within, connecting her to the natural world of which we are all meant to be a part. With the new baby in their arms, she and Mr Noah look upon their children and their garden, and Mrs Noah knows that she is home.
Accenting our capacity for starting over, this is a gentle, positive book which inspires a deep appreciation of the environment and its connection to family joy.
Review by Leone Betts