Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures

h1 July 9th, 2020 by jules

(Click spread to enlarge)


Khalil lives in a new house. He lives upstairs, and downstairs lives elderly Mr. Hagerty, whose life is signficantly more quiet than the “big and busy and noisy” lives of Khalil’s family. The two tenants share a backyard, and each loves it. Mr. Hagerty works in his garden; Khalil hunts bugs and “interesting rocks.”

This is the story of Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures (Candlewick, May 2020), written by Tricia Springstubb and illustrated by Elaheh Taherian.

The two become friends, Khalil even helping Mr. Hagerty remember the words he occasionally forgets. They look out for each other, and when each of them has a moment of discouragement, the other friend thoughtfully plans a surprise. That’s the gist of this sweet, tender story of an intergenerational friendship. Springstubb paces the story gently and takes her time allowing the bond between the two neighbors to grow.

Elaheh Taherian renders these illustrations via collage with oil and colored pencil, and these collage elements (as you can see below) afford intriguing textures to these compositions. The palette is dominated by bright, warm shades of green, and there’s a spaciousness to the compositions that really lets the story breathe. The illustrator’s style, as well as the bones of this story, remind me of Joowon Oh’s Our Favorite Day, released last year. (This is a good thing. I liked that book. These two would be great to pair together.)

Here are a couple more spreads from the book. …


“He lay in the grass and read his library books. Sometimes, if he couldn’t figure out a word, he asked for help. Mr. Hagerty would squint through his glasses. ‘Tarantula,’
Mr. Hagerty would say quietly. Or ‘Volcano.’ Or ‘Doubloons.'”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“‘We need refreshments,’ said Mr. Hagerty. Refreshments turned out to mean big pieces of chocolate cake and tall, cold glasses of milk. Soon, Khalil and Mr. Hagerty both felt much better. ‘Maybe we’ll be luckier tomorrow,’ said Khalil. ‘Maybe,’ said Mr. Hagerty.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


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KHALIL AND MR. HAGERTY AND THE BACKYARD TREASURES. Text copyright © 2020 by Tricia Springstubb. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Elaheh Taherian and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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