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by Phillis Gershator

illustrated by Holly Meade


School Library Journal:

Gr 1-4- In this gentle tale, “Young Takeboki needed a job, and the monks in the temple needed a Flower Keeper.” The boy’s humble pride in his task lasts through his long lifetime and into his afterlife. The author credits “the artistry of Japanese gardens” as her inspiration, and borrows a bit from Buddhist teaching to weave a folkloric lesson on the value of good work. Meade’s pleasing watercolors spread across the double pages to follow Takeboki through the seasons and then across the years as he contentedly sweeps, arranges patterns in the sand, tends to leaves and flowers, and dreams of greater worlds. As others rebuke him for his lack of ambition for a more lucrative job, he reflects repeatedly on a simple truth. “The monks need a temple, the temple needs a garden, and the garden needs a Flower Keeper.” The illustrations provide a bit of foreshadowing, incorporating the figure of another smiling boy, the future Flower Keeper, in later scenes. The old man’s life’s work takes on much larger proportions in the land beyond Earth, where he’s once more young and now has a golden rake and a silver broom to tend the clouds in all directions as Sky Sweeper. Nicely constructed for reading aloud, this quiet story has a satisfying progression that might prompt reflective discussion. –Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston –Margaret Bush (Reviewed April 1, 2007) (School Library Journal, vol 53, issue 4, p105)


  • Parents’ Choice Awards – Picture Books: 2007


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, Ages 9-12, Art