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Children's Fiction Marriage & Divorce

On the Other Side of the Garden

by (author) Jairo Buitrago & Elisa Amado

illustrated by Rafael Yockteng

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Mar 2018
Marriage & Divorce, Emotions & Feelings, Multigenerational
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: k to 2
  • Reading age: 4 to 7


“Those who feel physically or emotionally distant from beloved adults will take comfort in the idea that there are others who care. A subtle and affecting journey to resilience best shared one-on-one to pore over the spectacular artwork.”School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

From one of the great creative teams in picture books, On the Other Side of the Garden is about a city girl learning to accept the change brought about by her parents’ separation after she is left at her grandmother’s house in the country.

The girl feels abandoned and lonely, but after venturing into the nighttime garden, she is befriended by an owl, a frog and a mouse. Her talkative new companions show her an extraordinary new world by the light of the moon. When the girl gets back in the morning, her grandmother seems neither alarmed or angry about the girl’s nighttime adventures. Instead she gently introduces her granddaughter to her new surroundings, making clear that the girl is welcome. And as the sun warms their backs, the two seem content to get to know each other better.

Buitrago’s stories convey large truths through understatement and suggestion. This story, beautifully illustrated by Yockteng, shows how a child can use her own bravery and curiosity to confront confusing and potentially frightening realities, such as a parents’ separation and being left with an almost unknown relative. There is an endnote about the plants and animals that might be found in such a garden.

Key Text Features
garden inventory

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.

Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

About the authors

JAIRO BUITRAGO is a children's book author who has collaborated with Rafael Yockteng on several picture books, including Jimmy the Greatest! (six starred reviews), Two White Rabbits (three starred reviews), Walk with Me (three starred reviews, Kirkus Prize shortlist), Lion and Mouse (two starred reviews) and most recently, Cave Paintings. They won the "A la Orilla del Viento" contest for the Spanish edition of Walk with Me, which was also named to IBBY's Honor List. Their books have also appeared on "Los mejores libros del año" (Venezuela's Banco del Libro), Kirkus Best Books, the Horn Book Fanfare and in the White Ravens Catalogue. Jairo has also won the Hispanoamericano Castillo prize for children's literature and the Antonio García Cubas Award. He lives in Mexico City.


Jairo Buitrago's profile page

Rafael Yockteng has illustrated many highly acclaimed children’s books, including Sopa de frijoles / Bean Soup by Jorge Argueta (USBBY Outstanding International Books) and Jimmy the Greatest! (six starred reviews), Two White Rabbits (three starred reviews), Walk with Me (three starred reviews, Kirkus Prize shortlist) and On the Other Side of the Garden (three starred reviews) by Jairo Buitrago. Together, Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng have won the “A la Orilla del Viento” contest, and their books have been included on IBBY’s Honor List, “Los mejores libros del año” (Venezuela’s Banco del Libro), Kirkus Best Books, the Horn Book Fanfare and in the White Ravens Catalogue. Rafael lives in Bogotá.

Rafael Yockteng's profile page

Elisa Amado's profile page

Editorial Reviews

This is a creative, reassuring take on disruptive relocation . . . The indirectness of the approach is the story’s strength, making this a pleasing alternative to more overtly didactic tales of disrupted lives and turning time with a relative into literal magic.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

A hopeful book about a child’s confusion and fear of abandonment.


Simply outstanding . . .


A subtle and affecting journey to resilience.

School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

This lavish picture book is a magical blend of mystery, strangeness and friendly comfort; a subtle, compassionate expression of the uncertainty and hurt of being separated from parents because of divorce. It’s also a celebration of the companionship, space and beauty nature has to offer.

Toronto Star

Buitrago and Yockteng (Walk with Me) imagine the kinds of comfort that might console Isabel most, and readers share in the beginning of her healing.

Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

This understated picture book looks innocent on the surface, but holds the framework for understanding the huge impacts of parental separation and divorce. . . . [An] excellent resource to read one-on-one with a child who is going through big life changes . . .

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