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When a pumpkin vine sneaks into the garden, Evan allows it to take root and with it, hope returns. With lyrical figurative language, Evan transitions from being devastated by heartache to a being willing to step back into the world again.
THE ROUGH PATCH by Brian Lies (and last month’s Giveaway Winner!)
With his pumpkin, Evan rejoins his friends at the fair. While best suited for independent readers or shared moments during a loss, this poignant picture book provides an exquisite depiction of grief and hope. VERDICT A remarkable first selection for all libraries and a helpful guide for children and adults who are going through their own rough patches. Kirkus Reviews, May 15, Nature brings healing and a reawakening of the heart.
Evan, a farmer, is a red fox; his best friend and trusty companion is a black mutt. They do everything together, including work in Evan's lush garden.
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Eventually the dog dies, and Evan is inconsolable. Progressing through the stages of grief, Evan mourns, then feels bitter anger and destroys the garden, hacking it to pieces presumably not, as some readers may wonder, the corner where he buried his friend. Matching Evan's mood, the formerly beautiful place is now weed-filled and forlorn. A creeping pumpkin vine gradually helps Evan to reassess his thinking.
Deciding not to destroy the nascent plant, he cultivates it; his tender horticultural touch allows the pumpkin to develop into a gourd of enormous proportions. Bringing it to the fair, Evan wins third place—and oh, what a prize he chooses, revealed wordlessly on the book's final page! This story is simply and subtly told with admirably genuine emotion, but the textured, strong-hued art is the real standout.
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Charming images, such as Evan's gardening boots with holes for claws, and heart-wrenching ones—note Evan's bending over the dog's unmoving body—are to savor. Lies also matches colors and characters' expressiveness to moods and provides white space around numerous vignettes to focus readers' attention.
Reassuring and clear, this is a heartfelt story about loss and discovering that one can love again. Picture book.
Meet Picture Book Author Dean Robbins
IndieBound's BookPage , August, Evan, a bright orange anthropomorphic fox in gardening overalls, and his dog are constant companions. They enjoy many hobbies, but more than anything else, the best friends love to work together in Evan's garden. One moment they are relishing their time outdoors in their lush garden space; the next, Evan's dog has passed away. Evan is devastated.
With his best friend gone and grief at the wheel, Evan loses his passion for gardening. In fact, he destroys his plants and tears angrily at the ground with a hoe. Weeds soon take over, but this is fine with Evan, as he wants the barren earth to reflect how he feels inside. But when a pumpkin begins to grow in his yard—despite all the weeds—Evan's heart expands, and he begins to carefully tend to it.