Why We Chose This Book: The Forever Garden
At first glance, The Forever Garden is a simple story of the friendship between a girl and her neighbour. Honey lovingly tends her garden and shares the fruits of her labour with young Laurel, until one day Honey moves away, leaving the garden for her home’s new occupants and leaving Laurel with the knowledge to continue Honey’s legacy. The story is simultaneously gentle and powerful, and this combination is echoed in the illustrations of pastoral garden scenes punctuated by splashes of bright colour.
The Forever Garden is full of Jewish concepts for parents to talk about with their 5- and 6-year-olds, for example, Honey teaches her young friend how to care for the garden (l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation) and together they demonstrate care and respect for the earth (tikkun olam, repairing the world).
Honey pays it forward by planting strawberries for the people who will move into her house, just as she herself has enjoyed the grapes planted by the people who lived there before she did. This echoes a story from the Talmud featuring Honi the Circle Maker which is explained in an author’s note at the front of the book. There are other clues to the story’s Jewish origins, too. If you pay careful attention, you will notice that Honey comes to dinner ‘each Friday night’. Could this be Shabbat dinner? Is that challah in the basket on the table? This lovely book has many layers for families to uncover and explore.
July 17, 2017