The Forgiveness Garden

Overview

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. For as long as anyone could remember, their families had been enemies, and their towns as well, so it was no surprise that something bad had happened.

Hate had happened. Revenge had happened. And that inspired more hate and more calls for revenge. But this time, a young girl decided to try something different...

Inspired by the ...

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Overview

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. For as long as anyone could remember, their families had been enemies, and their towns as well, so it was no surprise that something bad had happened.

Hate had happened. Revenge had happened. And that inspired more hate and more calls for revenge. But this time, a young girl decided to try something different...

Inspired by the original Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, Lebanon, and the movement that has grown up around it, Lauren Thompson has created a timeless parable for all ages that shows readers a better way to resolve conflicts and emphasizes the importance of moving forward together.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
I can see The Forgiveness Garden resonating especially with children in war-torn or conflict-ridden communities. It opens a door to peacemaking and invites children to imagine for themselves what's on the other side. And isn't that often the first step toward kindness?
—Emily Bazelon
Publishers Weekly
Two fictional warring villages, Vayam and Gamte, sit across a stream from each other. When a Gamte boy named Karune throws a rock and injures a Vayam girl, revenge is expected. But the girl, Sama, forgives her attacker and uses rocks to begin building a garden the two communities can share. Thompson’s (the Little Quack series) allegorical tale, inspired by a real Garden of Forgiveness in Lebanon and an educational movement of the same name, comes to life in Hale’s (The East-West House) stylized collages. The browns, grays, and fiery pinks of the initial pages give way to softer pastels; the final spread shows Sama and Karune in silhouette sitting on the garden wall, surrounded by flowers. The closing sentence, “What do you think they said?” offers a good jumping-off place for discussions about conflict. The distinct people and place names have their origin in ancient Sanskrit; e.g., Sama derives from the word for forgiveness. A concise, potent read that imparts the message that violence need not result in more of the same and that it only takes one person to effect that change. Ages 4–6. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"There are many possible paths to peace, but learning forgiveness is essential to all of them, as this book demonstrates.”—Kirkus

 

"The purposeful messages are balanced by the personal story that shows how difficult it can be to create peace, and the afterword will help kids connect news headlines with their own schoolyard standoffs." — Booklist

 "This is a thought-provoking gateway into discussions about conflict, war, and, most importantly, the ability of willing souls to strive for reconciliation and forgiveness." — School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Alicia Jensen
A poignant and heartwarming tale about a girl named Sama, and how her courageous example of forgiveness changed two villages. In the valley there were two villages separated by a stream, the village of Vayam and the village of Gamte. For years and years the villages hated one another for reasons they did not even know. One day an argument sparked and rocks were flung across the stream at each other, and Sama, a Vayam girl, was hit in the head with a stone. Soon Sama's anger and hatred towards the Gamte's begins to grow, and she has the choice to let her hate destroy her or choose another path. This beautiful story of Sama's example of unconditional love, written about The Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, Lebanon, will touch the hearts of all readers. The artwork in this picture book is amazing! The artist used many different textures of paper which makes the pictures come alive. The words in this story, as well as the art, have a local feel, which really help connect the story to the reader. This children's book should be placed on every shelf so that children and adults can emulate the books' message of forgiveness and love. Reviewer: Alicia Jensen
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—This parable is based on the Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, planted in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war. In a valley divided by a stream, the villagers on both sides have hated one another for as long as they can remember. When a new argument arises, a Gamte boy throws a large stone across the stream and strikes a Vayam girl, leading to calls for revenge. The people on both sides are angry, fearful, and sad, and they wonder if the fighting will ever end. It is the girl, Sama, who looks at her scarred and scowling reflection and, glancing across the water at the scared and angry children on the other side, thinks, "They are just like us." She is handed a stone with which to exact her revenge against the boy, Karune, but she flings it to the ground, suggesting that stones should be used to build a "forgiveness garden" instead. Slowly a garden wall is built, but the people have questions: "If we forgive, must we forget all that has happened?" "Will [they] apologize?" When the garden is complete, Sama and Karune sit together and talk. The text ends with, "What do you think they said?" A story such as this risks being overly didactic, but the message here is softened and enhanced by the full-bleed, mutely toned collage illustrations. Richly textured in a palette of muddy browns, sandy beiges, soft blues, and healing violet, the images are simple yet powerful. This is a thought-provoking gateway into discussions about conflict, war, and, most importantly, the ability of willing souls to strive for reconciliation and forgiveness.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Two villages separated by a stream and a history of anger wonder if they will ever stop fighting. Cleverly based on the Sanskrit words for "us" and "them" the two fictional villages of Vayam and Gamte have hated each other for a long time. One day, during a particularly violent argument, a Gamte boy named Karune throws a large stone across the stream and hits a Vayam girl named Sama on the head. The Gamte side cheers, while the Vayam side plots revenge. Karune is held captive, and the villagers give Sama the same large stone to hurl back at him. But Sama can't do it. Instead, she places the stone on the ground and suggests they use it to build a garden wall. She calls it a forgiveness garden. Peace isn't restored instantaneously; there are still many questions: "If we forgive, must we forget all that has happened?" "Must we apologize?" True to life, there are no definitive answers--just simply sit in the garden and find out. Hale's textured collages contain commonplace landscapes and silhouetted crowds, cloaking this parable in anonymity. An afterword by the Rev. Lyndon Harris explains the real Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, Lebanon. There are many possible paths to peace, but learning forgiveness is essential to all of them, as this book demonstrates. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312625993
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
  • Publication date: 10/30/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 349,718
  • Age range: 4 - 6 Years
  • Lexile: 480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

LAUREN THOMPSON is the bestselling author of numerous picture books, including the Little Quack series. Her previous book for Feiwel and Friends is Ballerina Dreams. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and their son.

CHRISTY HALE has illustrated many picture books and is also the author of The East-West House. She lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband and their daughter.

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