The Garden on Red Gum Road
by Phil Cummings / illustrated by Danny Snell
This book made the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Notable list for the Book of the Year Awards 2023 : Early Childhood.
There’s a special place for Nonna and me,
for friends, for pets, for family.
When we go, it’s a busy day,
we talk, we dig, plant seeds and play.
We join our friends, share the load,
in the community garden …
on Red Gum Road.
The picture book The Garden on Red Gum Road by Phil Cummings is a wonderfully whimsical, dare I say pleasantly old-fashioned story about a young boy and his nonna’s day out at their local community garden.
Written with a leisurely pacing, and illustrated in a simple but very detailed manner, this story skilfully draws the reader into the present ‘moment’ of each and every page. From leaving home with nonna, having gathered their necessities for the day. To meeting up with a friend to dig, plant out and water some seeds. To helping pick and gather various fruit and vegies. To sitting and watching nature do it’s thing: spying ant trails, snails on leaves, bees on flowers and birds taking baths. Spending time in good company.
This book is all about the important things in life: fresh air and sunshine; a bit of hard work and enjoying the fruits of your labour (with a big, communal picnic lunch); the bonds of neighbours, friends and family. The timeless, generational nature of these things.
It brings the important themes of environment and community to light in a natural, unassuming and unforced way. As I said at the beginning this really is a wonderful, elegantly simple picture book. And with spring just around the corner, the season of renewal, it’s the perfect time to give The Garden on Red Gum Road a read.