When I was in Brisbane recently I was wandering through the Roma Street Parklands with a friend and her five-year-old daughter. As Sophie stopped to sniff every second flower and gazed around in wonder, I remembered what it felt like with my own children to watch them explore the sights, sounds and smells of a beautiful garden.

A garden can be source of comfort and discovery – a place to escape to – a place to wait and hope.

Today, I thought I’d talk about two beautiful new releases from Walker Books, both set in a garden, both with different messages of hope.


Noah spends hours playing in the hospital garden, inhabiting the world of his imagination while he waits for his sister to get better so she can come and play with him.

Noah asks with a child’s simplicity,

“When can Jessica come to my garden?”

“Maybe some day,” says Dad, spinning him round.

One of the things I loved about this book was its sincerity. It’s based on a true story, on family friends of the author who spent seven months living at a hospital after their daughter was born with a serious medical condition.

There is no sentimentality to this story and perhaps that’s what makes it so moving. The courage of Jessica’s parents and the resilience of Noah are a powerful combination.

Noah’s Garden is full of hope and love and a testament to the power of imagination.

The beautiful illustrations by Annabelle Josse bring light to a serious subject.

Published by Walker Books Australia, Noah’s Garden is for children aged three to seven.

All royalties earned by Mo Johnson for the sale of the Australian edition of Noah’s Garden are being  donated to the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation in Melbourne.

A CHILD’S GARDEN: A STORY OF HOPE – written & illustrated by Michael Foreman

Written and illustrated by Michael Foreman, this garden offers hope of a different kind – hope for the future in the midst of poverty and war.

The boy in A Child’s Garden: a story of hope has no name; he is just “The Boy” and this adds to the story’s poignancy.

After war comes to his country The Boy is separated by a barbed wire fence from the hills he used to roam with his father.

When The Boy finds a tiny plant amongst the rubble it becomes his symbol of hope.  But he lives in fear that at any moment, the soldiers will discover his secret garden and destroy it.

A Child’s Garden: a story of hope is a beautiful story about the resilience of the human spirit.

The detailed but understated illustrations brought me right into the story and I felt the family’s hardship and felt my own spirits rise with The Boy’s hope.

I loved Mo and Michael’s picture books for their moving words, stunning illustrations and their themes of  courage and optimism.