A story of how the efforts of one person could help to change the world. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown follows the dream of one boy to transform an old railway into a beautiful garden.
The illustrations work cohesively with the text to represent the transformation that occurs at the hands of Liam. In the beginning, the illustrations consist of drab, dreary coloring with browns, greys, and beiges with Liam a small insignificant figure found in the bottom corner. Furthermore, the front endpaper is dominated by gray, consisting of rocks and only an insubstantial little corner of greenery. However, the power of one person grows throughout the story along with the color.
After finding some wildflowers on a forgotten railway, Liam becomes determined to take care of the flowers and begins gardening the area. Soon the garden grows and the colors of the illustrations follow. With blooming flowers and grass spreading across the railway, the illustrations include pops of red, green, and blue, transforming the dreary town into a beautiful spectacle.
The following spring, after a winter of studying gardening, Liam returns to his garden, helping the plants awaken from their winter sleep and soon the garden refuses to be confined to the railway, spreading its roots all across the town. Plants pop up around town and along with the new gardens comes more people to help preserve the area. By the back endpaper, those first notes of gray are long gone and that little speck of greenery has taken over the entire page. What started with one person became a community effort to bring nature back to a city. The evolution of the illustrations throughout the story really epitomizes the impact what one person can make in the long-run.
At the end of the story, the author writes a note informing the reader how a garden really did begin to form on an old Manhattan railway, giving way to wildflowers and trees. This just shows that something as small as a few flowers could lead to something much bigger. This would be a perfect book to include in classroom curriculum to promote the importance of nature and to inspire students to take action, no matter how small their idea may be. Nature is integral to our lives and this story serves to embrace that notion with the readers and makes them think about what they could start themselves. What change could they make in the world?