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Monday, July 19, 2010

Rose's Garden, written and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds. Candlewick, Random House, 2009. $20.00 ages 5 and up

"Rose began preparing the soil, imagining what a different, colorful place this could be."

There is a green space in the center of Boston called The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. It is a 15 acre tribute to her memory and comprises gardens, plazas and tree-lined walkways. Peter Reynolds dedicates his new book to Rose Kennedy, 'a woman who planted her own perennial garden'.

Reynolds' title character is a young woman with spunk, a travel itch and a penchant for collecting seeds from each of the places she visits. She keeps them in a floating teapot, along with warm memories of all the places she has seen. When the teapot is full to brimming, she decides that they need a place to grow. It is time to plant 'Rose's Garden'. She finds the ideal spot in a city by the sea...'a dusty, forgotten stretch of earth'.

She toils diligently to prepare the space for planting. When her work is done and she is satisfied, she discovers that the birds have had a heyday in her absence and there are few seeds left. Not to be deterred, Rose picks up the leftover seeds and plants them in her garden. Patient waiting and diligent attention, water and sun do nothing to inspire plant growth. Rose waits through chilly fall and frozen winter, still nothing. But, Rose has faith, and others notice.

When a small girl arrives with a gift, Rose is delighted. The girl's homemade paper flower finds pride of place in the soil. Then, a boy appears with another. Each child who brings a flower also tells a story of coming to this city from around the world...just like the seeds from Rose's teapot. On and on it goes until glorious color fills the space. It is not until she hears the buzzing of a bee that Rose's curiosity is piqued and she bends to smell the flower that attracts the persnickety pollinator. What? A real flower? Are there more? YESSSS!!!

Rose believes in the power of a garden to brighten the lives of those who find refuge there. Her travels over, Rose makes a home in the beauty of her garden, a place where grandmothers read to their grandchildren, where children get pleasure from working in its peaceful surroundings and where parents take long, talk-filled walks with their kids. What a legacy!

The back cover offers thanks to Peter Reynolds from Senator Ted Kennedy:

"Peter H Reynolds poignantly captures my mother's enduring spirit in Rose's Garden. May this powerful story and my mother's beautiful greenway plant fresh seeds of hope and service for generations to come."

1 comment:

  1. This Thursday, July 22nd, join the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy in celebrating Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy's birthday. Event details here: