When Mayumi was born, her grandfather created a garden for her. It was unlike any other garden she knew. It had no flowers or vegetables. Instead, Ojiichan made it out of stones: "big ones, little ones and ones in-between." Every summer, Mayumi visits her grandfather in Japan, and they tend the garden together. Raking the gravel is her favorite part. Afterward, the two of them sit on a bench and enjoy the results of their efforts in happy silence. But then one summer, everything changes. Ojiichan has grown too old to care for his home and the garden. He has to move. Will Mayumi find a way to keep the memory of the garden alive for both of them?
Glossary of Japanese terms. Full-color watercolor illustrations.
Scholastic Reading Counts
Mayumi’s grandfather (Ojiichan), who lives “nearly halfway around the world” in Japan, builds a special garden that they can enjoy working in together when she visits each summer. Unlike the gardens she knows from home with flowers and vegetables, this garden is made of stones and gravel. The watercolor illustrations in soft earthy tones show the passage of time as Mayumi grows older and becomes more adept at working in the garden. The lines and patterns she rakes through the gravel and around the trees create a soothing page layout. Eventually Mayumi and her parents accept that Ojiichan can no longer live alone and that he will have to leave his home and garden behind. In sadness and frustration, Mayumi finds solace in the garden one last time, which ultimately brings her the idea of collecting a small version of the garden in a lacquered bento box that can travel with Ojiichan. This is a quiet look at rich traditions, change, and the special relationships between grandparents and children. A few Japanese words used in the book are defined in the back.