Thursday, 15 December 2011

Murgatroyd’s Garden

Murgatroyd’s Garden  by Judy Zavos, illustrated by Drahos Zak (Walker Books)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 978-1-921720-52-9
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

It is no wonder that this book won CBCA Honour Book, Picture Book of the Year in 1987. It’s rerelease is sure to be adored by those who battle at bath time because it means the dreaded task of hair washing. It opens with the havoc Murgatroyd’s AMAZING screams cause EVERYWHERE. They cause chaos for the Mayor, the Queen, the President and more. So much so that, by order of the Mayor, Murgatroyd’s parents must not wash it anymore.


At first, Murgatroyd is happy. As is everyone else. Peace and quiet is a good thing. Better still, it seems dirt ridden hair that grows a garden proves to be a novelty. The entire neighbourhood is kept stocked with freshly picked flowers. Experts can’t believe it. People come from the world over to witness it. And Murgatroyd becomes famous for something other than screaming.


The garden grows bigger and bigger. It produces vegetables and fruit trees. It becomes home for birds. The bigger and heavier it gets, the smaller and more miserable poor Murgatroyd becomes. Those visiting to sticky beak, and the animals living in the growth, don’t keep Murgatroyd company. He becomes lonely. And worried. “Soon there would be all garden and no Murgatroyd.” It is agreed, that the garden must go and Murgatroyd is so pleased with being able to stand again, he happily has his hair washed. Regularly.


Zak’s artwork is splendid. Sepia tones, with teensy dobs of colour, form detailed illustrations of Murgatroyd’s town. Black is often used on white to outline parts of Murgatroyd’s personal world, with the key features being in bold colour. Sepia returns to show the garden growing and, as it blossoms into much life, enormous amounts of colour pull readers into the action and help hide poor Murgatroyd. There is so much for readers to look at and find in these pictures, they will come back again and again. This book is highly recommended for pre-schools and young readers.

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