The Secret Kingdom
By Barb Rosenstock
Illustrations by Claire A. Nivola
Available February 13, 2018
The incredible story of the world’s largest visionary environment: the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, kept secret by outsider artist Nek Chand for fifteen years.
After the partition of India in 1947, Nek Chand Saini settled in the city of Chandigarh, with nothing but stories brought from his homeland. Dismayed at his stark new surroundings, Nek began collecting river rocks, broken glass, and cracked water pots found on the roadside. He cleared a section of jungle and for seven years he stockpiled odds and ends. They were castoffs and rubbish to everyone else, but to Nek, they were treasures. He began to build a labyrinth of curving paths, mosaics, and repeating patterns: his very own tribute to the winding village of his youth, a hidden land of stories. Nek kept his kingdom secret for fifteen years, until a government crew stumbled upon it and sought to destroy it. But local fans agreed in awe: the Rock Garden had to be protected. Author Barb Rosenstock introduces readers to the outsider artist’s stunning creation, while Claire A. Nivola’s illustrations bring to life the land’s natural beauty and the surreal world Nek coaxed from his wild landscape.
“a captivating biographical narrative, this book is an ideal choice for expanding any visual-arts focused picture book collection.”
—School Library Journal
“Folk artist Nek Chand’s remarkable journey to create the phenomenal Rock Garden of Chandigarh, India, is an inspiring tale of tenacious creativity.”
—Shelf Awareness Pro
“Rosenstock’s narration gracefully integrates Chand’s early village experiences with their embodiment in his multi-acre built world, and Nivola’s airy illustrations are complemented by a closing double foldout photomontage of Chand’s wonderland of found materials.”
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books