Grinza’s Orchard: An Enchanted Tale is sure fire proof that there are still mesmerizing and original fairy tales to be passed down for generations to come.
Written and illustrated by Leonard I. Eckhaus, Grinza’s Orchard is an award-winning children’s novel that follows the life of a Romanian girl in the early 20th century. In it, the titular protagonist is gifted a cherry tree at a young age. From that moment on, she dreams of growing her very own orchard one day. But life has many obstacles in store for her, including the many challenges that any ordinary girl might face growing up in 20th-century Romania. As a young girl and teenager, her problems include anything from disliking the freckles she was born with, to warding off unwanted suitors. As she gets older, however, her problems become increasingly more serious. One of which involves her sacrificing her beloved cherry tree in order to tend to her sick parents. When Grinza gets older, marries, and finally begins to bring the orchard she’s always dreamed of to life, she finds that her troubles are not quite over. Along the way, she receives support from a quirky cast of friends and family as she tries to make her way in the world.

Although it is targeted towards children and adolescents, Grinza’s Orchard is a truly phenomenal read for readers of all ages. From the outset, Grinza is easy to love and relate to. As we follow her throughout her vibrant, tumultuous, life, we feel that much more connected to her and that much more invested in her journey. One can imagine how powerful Grinza’s arc can be for impressionable young children, who are rarely offered such a long-spanning account of a character’s experience that can serve as a guide to navigating life’s many challenges. In that same vein, the story is filled with powerful themes such as the importance of community, the power of optimism and resilience, and the agency of young women in shaping their own lives.

The plot of the story is further enriched in the way that it is colored by the culture and customs of Romania in the early 1900s, which imbue the narrative with a profound sense of place without stripping its universality. The setting, in addition to the characters, is brought to life by Eckhaus’ vivid illustrations, adding a contemporary flare that complements many of the book’s themes, which are sure to resonate with contemporary audiences. Eckhaus’ prose is winding and magical; it may be challenging for the youngest of readers included in the book’s target audience, but these readers are better suited to read with the support of a parent anyway, since the book includes some pretty serious content at times.

With Grinza’s Orchard, Eckhaus offers a charming and timeless fairy tale for a new generation.