The Night Gardener

Published by Frances Lincoln . Authored by Terry and Eric Fan.

Recommended for: Year 2.

Suggested length of study: 2 - 3 weeks.

Download the full scheme of work

Why the book was selected

This is a visually rich book and offers wonderful opportunities to develop visual literacy. Much of the story is told through the illustrations rather than the text. There are openings for discussions about motivation, predictions and individual response. So much is conveyed through the illustrations and use of colour, but the language is well chosen and offers tremendous scope for useful vocabulary work.

Links to National Curriculum in England

This sequence focuses on reading comprehension, and does not explicitly teach phonics, although children may well be using phonological knowledge, decoding skills and recognising common exception words during the reading sessions. Children will be encouraged to read with fluency, especially as the text becomes familiar through rereading. At KS1, Take One Book will complement the approach you use for teaching phonics, ensuring your pupils are developing greater depth and understanding of the books they are reading

Pupils will be taught to: 

  • develop pleasure in reading, motivation to read
  • expand vocabulary and understanding 
  • discuss the sequence of events in books and how items of information are related  
  • become increasingly familiar with a range of stories
  • discuss and clarify the meanings of words, linking new meanings to known vocabulary  
  • discuss their favourite words and phrases
  • understand both the books that they can already read accurately and fluently and those that they listen to 
  • draw on what they already know or on background information and vocabulary provided by the teacher  
  • check that the text makes sense to them as they read, with the teacher correcting inaccurate reading  
  • make inferences on the basis of what is being said and done,  answering and asking questions  
  • predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far
  • participate in discussion about books
  • take turns and listen to what others say  
  • explain and discuss their understanding 

Curriculum connections

  • Science
    • plants

About the author

The Fan brothers are from Toronto, Canada. Their work is a blend of traditional and contemporary techniques, using ink or graphite mixed with digital. The Night Gardener is their widely acclaimed debut picture book. They have since produced several other books for children, and were shortlisted for the 2018 Kate Greenaway Medal (Ocean Meets Sky).

A note about lessons

Our lessons are organised as meaningful chunks of learning. Most of them will fit a standard 45 minute to 60 minute session. However, some of them are shorter and others will run for a series of linked sessions. It is anticipated that you will not teach all the lessons. Select those that suit the needs of your class and add them to your personalised plans.

A note about page numbers

This book does not have page numbers. For ease of reference we have numbered the pages starting with the double page spread without words, immediately after the end papers You may want to lightly pencil in page numbers on a teacher copy.
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Text potential

Lessons for this book

Before Reading


Cloud Watching

An opportunity to observe the natural variation of clouds and look for pictures or objects within them.

During Reading

First Encounters

Walking down Grimloch Lane

An interpretation of the visual introduction to The Night Gardener.

Pages 1-2

Picture Walk

A second, deeper reading of the story, taking time to examine the pictures together.

Required reading: Whole book

First Impressions: The Night Gardener

An initial character study.

Required reading: Whole book

Digging Deeper

Exploring Character: William

Exploring character by working in role.

Required reading: 3,7,11,19

A World of Colour

A focus on the language of colour

Required reading: 9, 10, 15, 16, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40

Colourless to Colourful

Looking at the suffixes- ful and -less

Required reading: Whole book

In the Hotseat

Exploring William’s point of view

Required reading: Whole book

All About Alliteration

Look at the use of alliteration in The Night Gardener and practise using it.

Required reading: 21

After Reading

Review and Reflect

End Game

Exploring endings and comparing stories.

Required reading: Whole book

The Night Garden lived at Grimloch Orphanage

Reflecting on the story using discussion statements.

Required reading: Whole book

What’s the Big Idea?

Reflecting on themes using discussion statements.

Required reading: Whole book

Trees are already beautiful, leave them alone!

Discussing a controversial statement.

Required reading: Whole book

Writing Opportunities

In My Secret Garden

An opportunity to respond to the story with a piece of descriptive writing.

William’s Diary

The children will create a diary entry in the person of William.

Required reading: Whole book

The Grimloch Gazette

A newspaper report describing recent events.

Required reading: Whole book

Wider Learning Opportunities

Leaf Animals

Use real leaves to create animal pictures.

Make a Topiary Tree

A tissue paper pompom that looks like a topiary.

Plant a Tree

Become a Night Gardener and make your school more beautiful.


The Wonder of Trees

Published by Hachette Children's Group. Authored by Nicola Davies. Illustrated by Lorna Scobie.

Did you know that there are over 60,000 tree species? This stunning book explores the extraordinary diversity of trees and forests – the lungs of our earth.

The Magic and Mystery of Trees

Published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd. Authored by Royal Horticultural Society, Jen Green, Claire McElfatrick.

Learn about the amazing natural science of trees in this gorgeously illustrated nature and science book. From the highest branch and leaf down to the complex “wood wide web” of roots, every part of a tree plays an important role in its own growth and the habitat of the whole forest or woodland. Did you know that trees take care of each other and that the whole forest is connected? 

The Book of Trees

Published by Thames & Hudson Ltd. Authored by Piotr Socha.

Why are trees so important? How many types are there? How do they benefit the environment and wildlife? This book, by the award-winning author Piotr Socha, answers these questions and more, tracking the history of trees from the time of the dinosaurs to the current day.

The Great Nature Hunt: Trees

Published by Hachette Children's Group. Authored by Clare Hibbert.

A fun book for young children that helps them identify trees and their habitats. If you love trees, want to identify common trees or just want to get outdoors and understand nature, this book is for you.

Grandpa Green

Published by Pan Macmillan. Authored by Lane Smith.

Grandpa Green wasn’t always a gardener. He was a boy who lived on a farm and a child who had chickenpox. He was a soldier, a husband and, most of all, an artist. Follow his grandson through a garden where memories are handed down through the shapes of topiary trees and imagination recreates things forgotten. 

The Green Ship

Published by Random House Children's Publishers UK. Authored by Quentin Blake. Illustrated by Quentin Blake.

Two children find the Green Ship when they climb over the wall into what is more like a forest than a garden. The ship has bushes for bows and stern and its funnels are trees; a small garden shed on an ancient stump is the wheel house and in command of the ship is the owner of the garden, old Mrs Tredegar. Throughout the summer she and the Bosun and the two children sail the Seven Seas visiting exotic faraway places and having wonderful adventures.

Ocean Meets Sky

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books. Authored by Eric Fan. Illustrated by Terry Fan.

From the creators of The Night Gardener, comes a stunning new picture book about a young boy who sets sail to find a place his grandfather told him about… the spot where the ocean meets the sky.

It’s a good day for sailing.

Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float.

Finn’s grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself!

And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.

The Antlered Ship

Authored by Dashka Slater. Illustrated by The Fan Brothers.

An inquisitive fox sets off on a seafaring voyage with a crew of deer and pigeons in this enchanting tale of friendship and adventure. Marco the fox has a lot of questions, like: how deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea? And why do birds have such lizardy feet? But none of the other foxes share his curiosity. So when a magnificent ship adorned with antlers and with a deer for a captain arrives at the dock looking for a crew, Marco volunteers, hoping to find foxes who are as inquisitive as he is that can answer his questions. The crew finds adventure and intrigue on their journey. And, at last, Marco finds the answer to his most important question of all: What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?

Woodland Trust

Packed with ideas to encourage schools to plant trees.

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