Last week, I received a review copy of the children’s book, “Ang Ikaklit Sa Aming Hardin” / “Ikaklit in Our Garden” for the blog tour that’s ongoing this week.
Published in 2012 by Twamkittens, “Ang Ikaklit Sa Aming Hardin” by Bernadette Villanueva Neri (English translation by Jennifer del Rosario-Malonzo) and illustrated by CJ de Silva (layout by Jennifer Padilla-Quintos) won the first prize in the 2006 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in the short story for children category.
In the book, a young girl grows up in a family with two mothers and a shared love for gardening. When she enters school for the first time, she gets teased and taunted by her classmates over her unconventional family setup, and she struggles to come to terms with how others perceive the only family she has known.
I’ve heard much about this book, and I’m glad I finally got to read it now. I like how it tackles a relevant theme in a way that is simple and straightforward enough for a young reader to understand, without exoticizing it. It also clearly illustrates how there are different types of families outside of the traditional nuclear family, and how one is not necessarily superior to the other.
The book uses the analogy of a garden for the family — the mothers explain to the child that “Who planted the seed is not important. It also doesn’t matter whether a woman or a man takes care of them. What’s vital is how well the garden is tended” (“Hindi mahalaga kung sino ang nagtanim sa mga punla. At hindi rin mahalaga kung babae ba o lalaki ang nag-aalaga sa mga ito. Ang importante ay kung paano ito inaarugang mabuti”).
The original Filipino text is beautifully written (quite melodic, actually), but poses a bit of a challenge as it’s a step up from conversational Filipino (perhaps because it’s an entry in a literary contest?). I think I’m reasonably adept at Filipino, and I had to check the translation at several points throughout the book for some unfamiliar words. But I think most of us need an exercise reading in Filipino anyway, and there is a corresponding English translation, and you’ll find out what ikaklit is by the end of the book. :)
The story also finds a perfect match in the realistic treatment in CJ de Silva’s illustrations, mirroring the reality of the situation encountered by the character in the book.
Here’s a teaser for the book:
“Ang Ikaklit sa Aming Hardin” is available at UP Press and the IBON Foundation bookstore, but you can win a copy via the blog tour giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
“Ang Ikaklit sa Aming Hardin,” review copy, 4/5 stars