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Cover for The Gardener of Alcatraz

The Gardener of Alcatraz

A True Story

Emma Bland Smith, Jenn Ely (Illustrator)


List Price: 16.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A prisoner gardens his way to freedom in this inspiring picture-book biography.

When Elliott Michener was locked away in Alcatraz for counterfeiting, he was determined to defy the odds and bust out. But when he got a job tending the prison garden, a funny thing happened. Thoughts of escape were replaced with new interests and skills--and a sense of dignity and fulfillment. Elliott transformed Alcatraz Island, and the island transformed him.

Told with empathy and a storyteller's flair, Elliott's story is funny, touching, and unexpectedly relevant. Back matter about the history of Alcatraz and the US prison system today invites meaningful discussion.

Charlesbridge, 9781623541606, 32pp.

Publication Date: March 15, 2022

About the Author

Emma Bland Smith thinks the best thing about writing books is getting to visit lots of cool places for research--like Alcatraz. She is a public librarian, a book blogger, and the author of many children's books, including Journey: Based on the True Story of OR7, the Most Famous Wolf in the West.

Jenn Ely loves a well-told story. She works on animated projects for film and television and illustrates books, such as If You Were a Kid Building a Pyramid. Jenn believes in trying things that might not work because that's what makes you grow. @elyjenna