Title: Florette
Written and illustrated by Anna Walker
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
RRP: $24.99

Due for release February 27,2017.

Lush, green endpapers welcome readers into this treat from Anna Walker.

When Mae and her family move to the city she wants to take her garden with her. Told she can make a new garden, Mae soon discovers there is no room for “apple trees and daffodils” in the city. Using her imagination she tries to compensate, but without success. While in the park one day, she recognises a familiar type of bird and follows it, discovering something she has been missing all along. Taking a small treasure home, she slowly transforms her new home, with new friends.

The front and back endpapers both show lush green vegetative growth with different birds and organisms in the foliage. Many of these can be seen throughout the book in various formats. The illustrations vary from double page spreads to small vignettes. At times they show one scene, while others show a progression through scenes in both space and time. Often the left to right movement within the images encourages the reader to turn the page, finding the next illustrative treasure. Colour is used to full emotive effect, from the grey, drab city buildings to the new growth on the city’s trees as spring approaches. The illustrative text warrants many readings.

There are many books about children moving home. Some are better than others, tenderly showing the emotional turmoil felt by their young characters. This is one such book. Anna Walker’s tender and soft illustrations are just beautiful. Her recognisable illustrative style adds emotion to an already heartfelt verbal text. This is not just a story of moving home, but also of resilience in the face of change, the power of imagination and determination and importance of gardens. There are many aspects of the story expressed in the visuals not expressed in the writing, like all true picture books. And like all true picture books, readers of different ages will gain different meanings, according to their own background and life experiences. Suffice to say, this is a book for all ages.

If this is your first Anna Walker read, I urge you to explore her work further. You will not be disappointed. This picture book will be one of my favourites for a long time to come.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Australia for supplying this book for review.

Possible activities and discussion starters

Before Reading

  • Have you ever moved house? Discuss children’s experiences.
  • Look at the front end paper and discuss what the children can see. What do you think the story might be about?

After reading

  • Have children draw their garden at home, or their favourite park.
  • Visit a local park and list, or draw, the animals and plants seen.
  • Draw a map from your home to the local park, or the school to the local park.
  • Decorate a pot on the outside and plant it with a garden plant.
  • Gather other books by Anna Walker and read throughout the week, or month. View the video below to learn more about Anna Walker and her work.