Anne Booth’s wonderful words enchant the ear
And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, ‘You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.’
Oscar Wilde, The Selfish Giant
An old man is in a story. From his window he shouts at a little girl down below, telling her to clear off, away from his beloved plant. (She was only talking to it.)
The plant now refuses to bloom. The old man tries everything he can think of to make it well again. He orders it to heal. Nothing happens.
A gardener gives him advice: let someone in.
The old man seeks out the girl and he realizes the folly of his earlier actions. The young teaches the old, who have forgotten what to love really means.
Paradise is revealed at the end, or at least ‘The Paradise Garden’.
These days seem to need so much healing.
Reading can heal. But reading has been the thing that many have said they have struggled with in the past months. There is too much worry, too much hurt, too much shouting in the world for the calm and quiet reading voice to be heard.
But today, on the eve of Empathy Day, I would encourage everyone to find time as soon as they can to read Bloom. The story, so beautifully clear it reads like best of fairy tales. Wilde’s The Selfish Giant is a clear forerunner of this story and, as so often with Wilde, the wisdom of children – the hope in the future – is the message we still need to hear one hundred years on.
Gentle, elegiac, respectful, the words Anne Booth has crafted for Bloom speak directly with a wonderful voice all of their own. They enchant the ear, they urge kindly for the reader to listen, to understand; to see what is so sad about the pride and misunderstandings in the story; to appreciate the place that love for others has in the world.
The bright, happiness of Robyn Wilson-Owen’s pictures paint a joyful world; goodness is everywhere they seem to say. Even in the old man’s house, the bright sun-lit yellow stands out against the gloom; there is hope for all of us.
I found the last words that are spoken in the book to be extremely moving. May we all find that those words come more easily as we heal.
And then we shall truly bloom.
My warmest thanks are due to Tiny Owl for sending me a copy of this lovely, lovely book and for authorising the use of the pictures in this blog.
- Read an interview with author Anne Booth
- Read a blog: Kindness helps us grow
- Watch: Spread kindness with flower pressing
Visit our bookstore
Download book posters
Limited edition prints
Subscribe to Tiny Owl on YouTube!