At last she raises her head to look at Mr Chelsea. He is wearing his gardening clothes and a battered straw hat lies in his lap. Eva is secretly pleased to see that his tattered clothes and thick-soled shoes are as out of place in her father’s study as her pyjamas. Mr Chelsea’s expression, however, is fiercer than ever. Eva can see that he would rather not have her help him.
When Eva accidentally breaks a pane of glass in Mr Chelsea’s greenhouse, her father insists that she must help Mr Chelsea in his garden for the rest of the summer. Eva is not impressed. Everyone in town knows that Mr Chelsea is crazy. She doesn’t want to spend her spare time with him.
But as the weeks pass, Eva discovers that Mr Chelsea isn’t as crazy as people think. He is actually a famous rose breeder, and he is working hard to develop a perfect yellow rose. Eva finds herself fascinated by Mr Chelsea’s work, and the pair are soon friends. Together they keep the roses alive during the crippling drought that the area is suffering.
Mr Chelsea’s Greenhouse is a story about tolerance and about friendship. As well as giving an insight into the process of propagating roses, it explores issues of ageing and drought as well as the problem of judging people based on gossip and hearsay.
Mr Chelsea’s Greenhouse is a yellow level reader in the Breakers series from Macmillan Education, aimed at children with a reading level of around 10 years.
It is suitable both for classroom and private reading.
Mr Chelsea’s Greenhouse, by Audrey Griffin
Macmillan Education, 2003