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?
This gentle picture book story will warm children's hearts as it explores a deep intergenerational bond and the passing of knowledge from grandparent to grandchild over time. The lyrical text by Chieri Uegaki and luminous watercolor illustrations by Genevieve Simms beautifully capture the emotional arc of the story, from Mayumi's contentment through her anger and disappointment to, finally, her acceptance. The story focuses on an important connection to nature, particularly as a place for quiet reflection. It contains character education lessons on caring, responsibility, perseverance and initiative. It's also a wonderful way to introduce social studies conversations about family, aging and multiculturalism. Mayumi lives in North America with her Japanese mother and Dutch father, and visits her grandfather in Japan. Some Japanese words are included.