The Garden at the End of the World, Cassy Polimeni (author), Briony Stewart (illus.), UQP, April 2023.


At the end of the world is an island covered in ice. On the island is a mountain. Inside the mountain is a vault. And inside the vault are millions of seeds.

When Isla makes a special discovery, she and her botanist mother adventure to the Global Seed Vault in Norway. Isla is going to leave her precious package there so children who haven’t even been born yet can grow and eat the food we all enjoy. What will they encounter along the way?

The Garden at the End of the World is a hopeful story about protecting nature’s treasures for the future.


Described as ‘a real-life fairytale’ for the fascination of the real-life, snow-encompassed Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, The Garden at the End of the World embodies the exact same magic with its ethereal qualities and breathtaking magnificence. Here is a divine picture book with the magical ability to enchant and transport its young readers into new depths and up to new heights, on any given mountain.

Opening on the mystical translucence of Briony Stewart’s cyanotype (sun print) plants on the endpapers (and scattered throughout), we swiftly enter on a foraging adventure through Isla’s garden forest, to which Isla immediately stumbles upon a strange and beautiful little seed pod. Once her botanist mother reveals her knowledge about the frosty wonderland of the island covered in ice that houses the special seed vault, the seed in Isla’s imaginative mind has been sown and their long and intrepid journey begins. Cassy Polimeni’s lyrical prose sweetens the expedition like hot fudge on a mountain of cool ice cream with its warm, delicious language and exciting narrative that travels through sprinkling stars, icy winds and emerald flashes of the northern lights. Absolutely spectacular scenes of fluid watercolour blues mixed with spatters and scrapes of green light and snow set behind Isla in yellow-orange pops and black chalky lines evoke every sense of wonder, awe, warmth and coldness all at the same time. ‘Floating’ into the seed vault, Isla safely places her foiled-wrapped seeds on a shelf amongst the stores of plant seeds from all over the world. What a moment!

Finishing on an informative note about the Global Seed Vault in Spitsbergen, readers can be enlightened and reassured with the knowledge that our climate and resources are being protected and nurtured for their future and future generations to come. There is plenty of scope for opening up discussions on climate change and what we, as individuals, and through collective efforts, can do to ensure a rich and diverse earth that is just ‘waiting to be planted.’

This picture book is an uplifting, hopeful and exquisite adventure and environmental resource that is sure to be treasured for many years to come, just like ‘the garden at the end of the world’. Highly recommended.

Review by Romi Sharp.

Cassy Polimeni joined us for an interview about The Garden at the End of the World. Read The Quick Six Interview here. We are also fortunate to be able to share Cassy’s winning pitch in our 2020 Pitch It! Competition for this book. Please read it below.

“At the end of the world is an island covered in ice. On the island is a mountain. Inside the mountain is a room. And inside the room are a million magic seeds.”
Isla and her mother are on a mission to deliver a package to the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway. With its polar nights and northern lights, the Arctic landscape provides food for Isla’s vivid imagination as they journey by plane, snowmobile and on foot and learn why a frozen mountain is the perfect place to keep seeds safe for future generations. With echoes of ‘One Small Island’ and ‘Where The Forest Meets The Sea’, ‘The Garden at the End of the World’ is a 466-word environmental picture book for 4-7 year olds, inspired by the real life ‘doomsday vault’ in Spitsbergen.

The Garden at the End of the World was published by UQP in April 2023.


Join Cassy Polimeni in the September school holidays for a fun storytime and craft session! More details here.

#thegardenattheendoftheworld #climatechange #naturesresources #theglobalseedvault #environment #picturebooks

2 thoughts to “#BOOKREVIEW: The Garden at the End of the World by Cassy Polimeni and Briony Stewart

  • Norah

    This book sounds amazing. I can’t wait to read it.

    • Just Write For Kids

      It truly is amazing! Just beautiful! Thanks, Norah xx


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