Bea and her sausage dog, Iris, have left the city behind to spend the summer with Bea’s grandfather in the country. Grandfather is a keen gardener and at first Bea is oblivious to the garden’s charms preferring to play on her i-pad instead. But one day Iris chases a cat into the next-door garden and Bea climbs over the fence to find her dog and discovers a wild garden paradise in a greenhouse complete with a resident green giant made of growing plants and leaves. The giant tells Bea how the city became too grey and claustrophobic for him and how he had to escape to find the green spaces he craved. Over the summer, Bea gradually discovers the joys of the outdoors and the power of nature with her new giant friend and when she returns to the grey confines of the city she realises that she can make a difference by scattering the seeds the giant has given her.
Drawing on traditional legends of the Green Man as protector of the environment and as a symbol of regeneration this is a timely tale of finding joy in wild places and the outdoors as an antidote to the overwhelming proliferation of the gadgets that can so easily take over our lives. It shows the importance of taking the time to enjoy the environment around us and finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Winner of the Batsford Prize for illustration and shortlisted for the Macmillan Prize for illustration Katie Cottle is a new talent to watch. This is a striking debut picture book with a jaunty illustrative style and a gorgeous colour palette of vibrant greens, oranges and ochres. A great story to promote discussion in class or at home and perhaps to encourage a spot of guerrilla gardening.