PPBF: The Forgiveness Garden

My pick for today's PPBF is a predictable yet poignant tale that resembles the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys and/or the Capulets and the Montagues, take your pick. The added bonus is the garden of forgiveness idea.

Title: The Forgiveness Garden
Author: Lauren Thompson
Illustrator: Christy Hale
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Date:  October 30, 2012
Suitable for ages: 4 and up
Themes: feelings, hatred, forgiveness, peace
Brief synopsis: A boy threw a rock across a stream and hit a girl. Their families had hated one another for years and this act was fuel for their fire. As the villagers plot their revenge, what if the girl decides not to get revenge?
Opening page: There was a valley, and through the valley ran a stream. The village of Vayam stood on one side, and the village of Gamte stood on the other. 

There was no peace in the valley. For the two villages had hated each other for a long, long time.

Flip through the pages of the book at the MacMillan website {here}
Discover what Wikipedia says about The Garden of Forgiveness {here}
Read a review at the New York Journal of Books site {here}

Why I like this book: 
1.  The realism. From the book cover:  A long time ago and far away - although it could be here, and it could be now - a boy threw a stone and injured a girl.  Students can compare this tale of two feuding families to a real-life situation from their own lives, from current-day experiences, or from something they've seen on television or in the movies.
2.  A built-in cultural lesson. The names in the story are from the Sanskrit language. Encourage your students to research this ancient language and the associated writings. Add some geography and look up Lebanon on a map.
3. A chance to talk about the gift of forgiveness, not only for the person who receives the forgiveness but for one who forgives.  
4. The garden. Discuss not just the metaphor for a forgiveness garden, but also the possibility and potential peace that might come with planting a real Garden of Forgiveness like the one in Beirut, Lebanon.
5.  The feelings. Angry words flew across the stream. Then stones. Talk with your students about better ways to manage anger than throwing stones or getting revenge. 
6. Its open-endedness. What do you think they said? I used the book in a counseling session with a second grader who's at odds with her mom, and when she answered that question, it sounded just like she'd put herself into the ending. (And for the record, she predicted that the boy and girl would get married on page two ....  love it!) I predict it'll be a great springboard for a discussion or an essay.

Oh, and click the Kindness Countdown calendar below to go to my guest post at The Teachers Lounge and get an idea to help kids work on making kindness a habit this month.


  1. What an important book! Reminds me of the famous fighting families. Revenge is not an answer to solving problems -- but forgiveness is! Such a strong message. Great resources!

    1. Yes, Patricia, it's a powerful message of forgiveness and peace. Thank you for your kind words.

  2. This book sounds like it's full of valuable lessons that all kids can benefit from, Barbara. I love that it encourages kids to find better ways to deal with anger than mean words or throwing things. It's always great to add books like this to our list. Thanks! :)

    1. Lots of layers with this one; I think it'll be a wonderful addition to our list! Thank you for all of your HEART work to share quality resources for the benefit of kids!

  3. Very nice pick! May need to get this for my friend's Montessori classroom!

    1. There are a lot of words for little ones but they'll totally get it with a simple picture walk! Thanks, Julie, for stopping by the Corner.

  4. Wow, what a multi-layered story with a great message.

  5. Think I may need this for my classroom - the angry words seem to come out with the advent calendars in December.

  6. Looks like a great book! Thanks for sharing this one!

  7. Excellent review! Sounds like a book that has a wonderful message.

  8. This book sounds superb -- what if they DIDN'T seek revenge? Oh, what a good question. Thanks for adding this one to our list.

  9. What a powerful message in this interesting book. Timeless! Thanks Barbara for sharing.


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!