On the Other Side of the Garden
Written by Jairo Buitrago
Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng
Written by Elisa Amado
From one of the great creative teams in picture books, On the Other Side of the Garden is about a city girl learning to accept the change brought about by her parents’ separation when she is taken to her grandmother’s house in the country and befriended by an owl, a frog and a mouse.
When her father leaves her at her grandmother’s house, the young girl at the center of this story feels abandoned and lonely. Her mother has moved to another country, and the girl wasn’t paying attention when her father explained what was happening. And she hardly remembers her grandmother.
After going up to her room she decides to venture out into the nighttime garden where she meets an owl, a frog and a mouse. They take her on a tour of her extraordinary new world. When she gets back in the morning, her grandmother explains that her father won’t be back for a long time. The girl tells her that she wants to be able to spend time in the garden with the plants and animals of this new world, and her grandmother doesn’t seem to be either surprised or alarmed by her nighttime adventures. And she is very happy that the girl and she will get to know each other.
Buitrago’s stories are noted for conveying large truths through understatement and suggestion. This story, beautifully illustrated by Yockteng, shows how a child can use her own bravery and curiosity to confront frightening and potentially destructive realities such as a parents’ separation and being left with an almost unknown relative through what we must assume is a situation where her father had no choice.
There is an endnote about the plants and animals that might be found in such a garden.
Jairo Buitrago is a children’s book author who has collaborated with Rafael Yockteng on several picture books, including Jimmy the Greatest! (six starred reviews) and Two White Rabbits, available in Spanish as Dos conejos blancos (three starred reviews). They won the “A la Orilla del Viento” contest (Fondo de Cultura Económica de México) for the Spanish edition of Walk with Me, which was also named to IBBY’s Honor List. Their books have appeared on “Los mejores libros del año” (Venezuela’s Banco del Libro), Kirkus Best Books, the Horn Book Fanfare and in the White Ravens Catalogue. Jairo lives in Mexico.
Rafael Yockteng has illustrated many highly acclaimed children’s books, including Sopa de frijoles / Bean Soup by Jorge Argueta (USBBY Outstanding International Books), and Jimmy the Greatest! (which received six starred reviews) and Two White Rabbits (which received three starred reviews) by Jairo Buitrago. Together, Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng have won the “A la Orilla del Viento” contest (Fondo de Cultura Económica de México), and their books have been included in IBBY’s Honor List, “Los mejores libros del año” (Venezuela’s Banco del Libro), Kirkus Best Books, the Horn Book Fanfare and the White Ravens Catalogue. Rafael lives in Colombia.
Elisa Amado is a Guatemalan-born author and translator. She has written Barrilete: A Kite for the Day of the Dead / Un barrilete para el Día de los muertos, Cousins (Primas) and Tricycle (El triciclo), which is on the Américas Award Commended List and is a USBBY Outstanding International Book. She is also the author of Why Are You Doing That?. She lives in Toronto.
Praise for Walk with Me by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng
“Emotionally resonant in the loveliest of ways.” Kirkus, starred review
“With guided discussion, youngsters can see beyond the deceptive simplicity of this poignant story. A strong choice for all collections.” School Library Journal, starred review
“The duo behind Two White Rabbits returns with another compassionate portrait of a child negotiating difficult circumstances with grace.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Simply outstanding . . ." Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
"Buitrago and Yockteng (Walk with Me) imagine the kinds of comfort that might console Isabel most, and readers share in the beginning of her healing." Publisher's Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
"A hopeful book about a child’s confusion and fear of abandonment." Booklist