Jane G Meyer has been a favorite of mine for a very long time. Her books have been, too.
Her latest children’s book, The Hidden Garden: A Story of the Heart, is an absolutely beautiful book about a man whose heart has dried up like a desert as a result of his neglect, and how he finally allows Christ to enter and help him turn it into the beautiful garden that it should have been all along. It reminds me of the sort of book you could give as a Sunday School graduation gift or to someone newly baptized. Sort of like some people give, Oh! The Places You Will Go, to kids when they graduate high school. It just has a message that surpasses age.
All of my favorite little critters and I have been spending quite a bit of time on the front porch lately. The weather has been perfect and we’ve been busy planting and watering our garden-to-be. This book arrived on one of those lovely afternoons, so we sat on the swing and read The Hidden Garden.
The boys loved it! Our favorite part is at the end of the book where Jane gives tips on How To Tend Your Garden. We just finished planting seeds for our garden this year, so it was perfect timing. I was able to compare the lessons in the story to what my children were seeing develop with our garden. The boys learned lessons in loving God and your neighbor, and just like our seedlings, we really need little to survive and those are the things we should ask God for daily.
The illustrations were done by Masha Lobastov, who also did the illustration in one of our other favorite books, And Then Nicholas Sang. They are so perfect for this book, each page has such a whimsical feel to it and it just sort of makes you dreamy. The only thing that struck me as sort of off, and I didn’t mention this to the boys, but Lucky pointed it out on his own. The illustrations of Christ, in particular, make him look more like a regular guy than the Christ we are used to seeing in icons or more iconographic illustrations (which I prefer when depicting saints, etc). Which, I’m sure was the point in this story but Lucky kept asking who the man knocking at the garden’s gate was and when I told him it was Jesus, he kept saying, “No, that’s not what he looks like!” Other than that, it is impeccably illustrated.
This book would be a wonderful gift for Lent! Jane’s tips on preparing your heart to welcome Christ is so appropriate for this time of year, this season of renewal and life and new beginnings. Once again, a job well done by Jane G. Meyer.