Children's & Young Adult Books

Simply wonderful: the work of author/illustrator Freya Blackwood

A few years ago I was fortunate to see an exhibition of works by award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Freya Blackwood. She has illustrated books by such leading authors as Libby Gleeson, Margaret Wild, Nick Bland, Jan Ormerod, Danny Parker and Mem Fox. See more about Freya and her work here.

If you follow my blog posts, you’ll know that I adore children’s literature and in particular, picture books. There is something magical about the combination of carefully chosen words and intuitive illustrations that bring a story to full, vivid life. Each component are integral, essential: one does not work without the other.

With The Garden of Broken Things, Ms Blackwood has created both words and pictures. It tells of little Sadie, who investigates the garden of Number 9 Ardent Street, an old house avoided by the other children because it has

windows like sad eyes, and

Thick like cobwebs,
the tangled vines concealed
things from another time,
revealed things twisted and bent,
seized and rusted;
things that had come to a final halt.

The Garden of Broken Things

Sadie discovers an old woman there, sitting slumped on a garden bench. Rather than running away, Sadie stays to chat, telling the woman about her friends, her school lessons, her pets. By the time she has to go home, she has made a new friend, and the garden of broken things becomes, once again, a wild and beautiful playground for the local children.

It’s a simple, sweet story about stopping to look and to listen, and how friends can appear in the most unlikely places. The soft evocative illustrations add so much to the book’s beauty and depth.

The Garden of Broken Things is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in May 2024.
My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.

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