author: Katey Howes
illustrator: Rebecca Hahn
Hardcover picture book
10 x 10 inches
Release date: August 29, 2017
About the Book
Grandmother Thorn treasures her garden, where not a leaf, twig or pebble is allowed out of place. But when a persistent plant sprouts without her permission, Grandmother begins to unravel.
“Her hair became as tangled as the vines on her fence. Her garden fell into disrepair. One morning, she did not rake the path.”
A dear friend, the passage of seasons, and a gift only nature can offer help Grandmother Thorn discover that some things are beyond our control, and that sweetness can blossom in unexpected places.
Rebecca Hahn’s detailed multimedia illustrations capture the intricate beauty of nature and bring the rural Japanese village and its inhabitants to life in this folktale style story by debut author Katey Howes.
About the Author/Illustrator
Katey Howes loves connecting kids with the natural world through exploration, art, and science. On weekends, you might find her camping with her Brownie troop, curled up under a blanket with a stack of books, or discovering a new museum with her husband and three daughters. After ten years as a physical therapist, Katey now writes full time from her cluttered basement office. Grandmother Thorn is her first picture book, inspired by an epic battle with an unruly raspberry bush. You can connect with Katey online at kateyhowes.com or follow her on Twitter @kateywrites.
Rebecca Hahn lives in a skinny blue house in Portland Oregon with her husband, son, and one lonely gerbil (it’s a long story). Each page of this book was meticulously painted, sewn and crafted by hand. Rebecca’s artwork has appeared in numerous shows and publications around the world. Visit her online at www.rebeccahahn.com
From Midwest Book Review, June 2017:
Grandmother Thorn treasures her garden, where not a leaf, twig or pebble is allowed out of place. But when a persistent plant sprouts without her permission, Grandmother begins to unravel. "Her hair became as tangled as the vines on her fence. Her garden fell into disrepair. One morning, she did not rake the path." A dear friend, the passage of seasons, and a gift only nature can offer help Grandmother Thorn discover that some things are beyond our control, and that sweetness can blossom in unexpected places. Beautifully illustrated with the distinctive artwork of Rebecca Hahn, "Grandmother Thorn" is an impressively original picture book story by Katey Howes that is especially commended for children ages 5 to 7 -- and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections.
From Publishers Weekly, June 13, 2017:
An elderly woman who rules her garden with an iron fist (“Every leaf, every pebble had its place”) learns to be a bit more flexible in Howes’s thoughtful first children’s book. Grandmother Thorn is so committed to the clean paths and symmetrical arrangements of her property that she chases away birds (and people) who threaten to disrupt it. The sole exception: her longtime friend Ojiisan. “My friend, have you considered that everything on earth sooner or later meets its match?” he asks as she wrestles with an errant berry vine. “Excellent point, Ojiisan,” she retorts. “Perhaps you might explain it to the plant.” Though the setting isn’t explicitly defined, Howes’s story is ostensibly set in Japan, and newcomer Hahn’s collaged landscapes, which incorporate stitched and pale fabric elements, have a crisp precision that prickly Grandmother Thorn would herself appreciate. The battle with the berry vine lays the matriarch low for a season, but spring brings a fresh attitude, including a new, romantic perspective on Ojiisan. It’s a quiet, visually arresting reminder that compromise has its benefits.
From Kirkus Reviews, May 24, 2017:
Grandmother Thorn has spent years perfecting her beloved garden, but a new plant, a gift from a friend, threatens its harmony.
Grandmother Thorn lives alone in Shizuka Village, apparently in Japan. Every day she meticulously cares for her garden and its pebbled paths, shunning visitors and shooing birds away from her trees. Neighbors fear her, but she always shows kindness to her old friend, Ojiisan, despite the fact that his crooked foot disrupts her precious paths. When a merchant brings an unusual type of berry to market, Ojiisan pays the merchant to take some to Grandmother Thorn. The merchant unwisely picks one perfect flower. Enraged, Grandmother Thorn chases him away and he drops the berries—one of which soon sprouts into a renegade plant. Her intense anger at this makes her so sick she must stay at the home of her niece until the following spring. When Ojiisan goes to walk her home, he gives her a box of berries. They are delicious—the fruit of the persistent weed. Grandmother Thorn understands that she has finally found something as stubborn as herself. Although Howes’ protagonist learns a good lesson, she is not particularly likable to that point, and the stern faces of Hahn’s characters could be disconcerting to the book’s young audience. Her pattern-filled, hand-collage illustrations incorporate fabric, wood, and paint, their thick outlines and stable compositions imparting a sense of peace to Grandmother Thorn’s garden.
Lovely—but it requires patience, just like its protagonist.