The Secret Kingdom
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.

The Secret Kingdom Details

TitleThe Secret Kingdom
Author
ReleaseFeb 13th, 2018
PublisherCandlewick Press
ISBN-139780763674755
Rating
GenreBiography, Childrens, Picture Books, Art, Nonfiction, History

The Secret Kingdom Review

  • Edward Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful, fascinating story about an Indian folk artist and his remarkable creations using recycled materials. Lovely watercolor illustrations by Claire Nivola.
  • Arleigh
    January 1, 1970
    This story follows a boy named Nek Chand as he grows up in the village of Barian Kalan in the Punjab region of what is now Pakistan. He had an ideal childhood, learning his people’s history and legends through the work and festivities of every season. When the Hindu people were expelled from the land, they traveled to India, where a disenchanted Nek hated the drab industrial landscape. Feeling nostalgic for his childhood dreams, he began building his own secret kingdom in the jungle outskirts. Y This story follows a boy named Nek Chand as he grows up in the village of Barian Kalan in the Punjab region of what is now Pakistan. He had an ideal childhood, learning his people’s history and legends through the work and festivities of every season. When the Hindu people were expelled from the land, they traveled to India, where a disenchanted Nek hated the drab industrial landscape. Feeling nostalgic for his childhood dreams, he began building his own secret kingdom in the jungle outskirts. Years pass, and when his project is discovered, both the government and the people weigh in on the fate of Nek’s private retreat.The Rock Garden of Chandigarh, built entirely of recycled materials, took years of collecting castoff items and painstaking work. The book includes real photos of the grounds and a detailed author’s note with a biography of its subject. The illustrations appear to be texture-rich watercolors that complement Chand’s style nicely. This is an excellent resource for educators, specifically art teachers wishing to expand their book collection to include lesser known world artists.
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  • Sunday Cummins
    January 1, 1970
    The kind of book you'll want to use with students--of all ages. Read this aloud to students, letting them savor the author Rosenstock's language--"Nek played and planted, laughed and listened, as the ancient stories circled with seasons, beginning to end and back again." Share with small groups and ask them to contemplate questions like, "What is the role of art (or storytelling) in society?" or "How did Nek reveal his determination?" Use as a mentor text for writers. Read and then reread, slowi The kind of book you'll want to use with students--of all ages. Read this aloud to students, letting them savor the author Rosenstock's language--"Nek played and planted, laughed and listened, as the ancient stories circled with seasons, beginning to end and back again." Share with small groups and ask them to contemplate questions like, "What is the role of art (or storytelling) in society?" or "How did Nek reveal his determination?" Use as a mentor text for writers. Read and then reread, slowing down carefully to look at the water color illustrations asking, "What do you notice?" and "How does the illustrator Nivola convey X?" or "What is the role of the gatefold (photograph that folds out) in the book?"Don't skip the author's note. Read this aloud to students or ask students to read. You can use this as a "second" source and ask students to think about how the content adds to their learning. Encourage them to ask lots of questions and do more research including reading about other artists and their endeavors.I have so much more to say about this book. It's powerful and has a lot of classroom potential. Barb Rosenstock is a "go to" author for me. As soon I got the book, I knew it would be well written. Nivola has also illustrated several other informational books--her illustrations always expand and deepen my understanding of the topic.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    Some people are driven to make art, with no expectations for sale or fame. I had heard of the Watts Towers in LA (https://www.wattstowers.org/about-us) and the bottle houses of Grandma Prisbrey (https://speakzeasy.wordpress.com/2015...) , but not Nek Chand of India who created a similar whimsical world out of found items. This book tells his story and inspirations, with lovely watercolor and gouache illustrations. One quadruple-page spread shows photographs of the world he created, followed by a Some people are driven to make art, with no expectations for sale or fame. I had heard of the Watts Towers in LA (https://www.wattstowers.org/about-us) and the bottle houses of Grandma Prisbrey (https://speakzeasy.wordpress.com/2015...) , but not Nek Chand of India who created a similar whimsical world out of found items. This book tells his story and inspirations, with lovely watercolor and gouache illustrations. One quadruple-page spread shows photographs of the world he created, followed by a fuller explanation of what happened after its discovery by officials.
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  • Pam
    January 1, 1970
    Biography of Nek Chand Saini and the Secret Kingdom he created. Tells his story from childhood through fleeing to India and then the years creating this artwork.Beautiful illustrations support the text.Biographic info at the end following the story. Fold out pages with actual photos of his artwork.
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  • Mary Lee
    January 1, 1970
    Pair this book with OUTSIDE IN by Jennifer Bradbury. Nek Chand is the historical character who saves the life of the fictional homeless boy in OUTSIDE IN.Also perfect to show how the experiences of someone's childhood can turn into their lifelong passions.
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  • Bill
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating man and story. But not particularly well-written. Illustrations more noteworthy.
  • Katie Logonauts
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fascinating picture book biography of Indian folk artist Nek Chand. A great invitation to create!
  • Jacqui
    January 1, 1970
    3.5
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