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Children's Fiction Death & Dying

A Garden of Creatures

by (author) Sheila Heti

illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

Initial publish date
May 2022
Death & Dying, Rabbits, Friendship
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: p to 3


A tender and deeply moving picture book about loss and the big questions it leaves behind from New York Times bestselling author Sheila Heti and acclaimed illustrator Esmé Shapiro.

Two bunnies and a cat live happily together in a beautiful garden. But when the big bunny passes away, the little bunny is unsure how to fill the void she left behind. A strange dream prompts her to begin asking questions: Why do the creatures we love have to die, and where do we go when we die? How come life works this way? With the wisdom of the cat to guide her, the little bunny learns that missing someone is a way of keeping them close. And together they discover that the big bunny is a part of everything around them -- the grass, the air, the leaves -- for the world is a garden of creatures.

With its meditative text, endearing illustrations and life-affirming message, A Garden of Creatures reveals how the interconnectedness of nature and the sweetness of friendship can be a warm embrace even in the darkest times.

About the authors

Sheila Heti is the acclaimed author of the novel How Should a Person Be?, the story collection The Middle Stories, which was published in Germany, France, The Netherlands, the United States, and Spain, and the novel Ticknor, which was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award. Her writing has appeared in various literary anthologies and in several US and Canadian publications, including New York Times Magazine, Esquire, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and Brick. Heti is also the creator of the popular Toronto and New York-based lecture series, Trampoline Hall. She studied playwriting at the National Theatre School in Montreal, and philosophy and art history at the University of Toronto. Sheila Heti lives in Toronto.

Sheila Heti's profile page

Esmé Shapiro's profile page

Editorial Reviews

One of CCBC's Best Books for Kids & Teens (Fall 2022), Starred Selection

“The discussions are thoughtful . . . and the vivid illustrations offer the animals a soft place to contemplate and heal. A beautiful and unconventional meditation on loss and love.” —STARRED REVIEW, Booklist

"It's hard to find a non-traditional way of thinking about death, but Heti . . . and Shapiro offer tranquility and solace." —Publishers Weekly

"Equally suited to preemptively explaining the concept of death to a young person or bringing comfort to a child dealing with loss, this picture book strikes an excellent balance of honesty and empathy. . . . [A] true gem." —CM Reviews

"[A] tender way to consider loss and the uncertainties that arise when a loved one dies." —Sal's Fiction Addiction
"Bracing in its unsentimental directness." Jewish Currents

Other titles by Sheila Heti

Other titles by Esmé Shapiro