By Sam Broughton
Published by Tate Publishing ISBN: 9781849765664
Review by Louise Date
Joe is a child with an imagination. A big imagination. Living in an apartment block in an ordinary city, Joe’s life lacks colour. His world is grey.
Rather than live a grey life, Joe’s imagination allows him to fill his world with beautiful plants and vibrant jungles to traverse through. Wishing to escape his drab normality he creates a life much greener, brighter, and full of creatures. In the hope of keeping this dream alive, Joe plants a seed, not expecting what will happen to his world.
This debut by Sam Broughton comes from Tate Publishing, the offshoot of the renowned gallery group. An illustrator trained at the Cambridge School of Art and an award winning artist, Broughton’s images in The Extraordinary Gardener have a chaotic charm that perfectly encapsulates the expanding idea that Joe puts into motion.
The illustrations have been created in a riotous, playful way that makes the pages seem much larger than they really are, and the characters, though visually striking, sink back into masses of rich, verdant scenes. To look at this book is to take a walk through a jungle.
The use of texture within the image makes the book appear more tactile, and the glossy production helps to enhance the appeal of a book that looks beautiful on the shelf as well as when gnawed, cuddled or coloured in. Crayon and collage elements help foster a childlike curiosity in what comes next, and the short snippets of text paired with image are easy for a young child to follow and observe.
Wishing to escape his drab normality he creates a life much greener, brighter, and full of creatures. In the hope of keeping this dream alive, Joe plants a seed… The Extraordinary Gardener is a enjoyable dip into the wonders of imagination, hope and the natural world. There is much to enjoy about an adventure in these leaves.