Skip to Main Content

Rock by Rock

The Fantastical Garden of Nek Chand

Illustrated by Sam Boughton

About The Book

This luminous picture book tells the fascinating true story of artist Nek Chand and how his secret art project—hidden away in a jungle—became one of India’s most treasured wonders, second only to the Taj Mahal.

In the bustle of the busy streets of Chandigarh, India, Nek Chand saw something no one else did. Where others saw rocks and stones, Nek saw the boyhood village he missed so dearly. Where others saw broken plates and glass, Nek saw laughing men. And where others saw trash, Nek saw beauty.

Nek Chand’s incredible rock garden, built from stone and scraps and concrete, began as a way for him to express his long-felt grief at having to leave his boyhood village due to the violence caused by the partition of India. What began as a secret and personal (not to mention initially illegal) project became so much more, not only to Nek but to all of India.

About The Author

Photo courtesy of

Jennifer Bradbury is the author of the middle grade novel River Runs Deep and of several critically acclaimed young adult novels, including, Take, A Moment ComesWrapped, and her debut, Shift—which Kirkus Reviews called “fresh, absorbing, compelling” in a starred review. Shift was picked as an ALA and a School Library Journal Best Book for Young Adults and is also on numerous state reading lists. She is also a rock climber and teacher in Burlington, Washington, where she lives with her family.

About The Illustrator

Sam Boughton is an award-winning artist based in the UK. She graduated with a bachelor’s in illustration from Bristol UWE then went on to be awarded a distinction for her master’s in illustration from the Cambridge School of Art. In addition to holding solo exhibitions of her paintings, Sam illustrates and writes picture books. She works mainly in watercolor with an added element of collage. Visit her online at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (February 23, 2021)
  • Length: 48 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781481481830
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Lexile ® AD870L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

A unique addition to a library's art and biography sections as well as being a great introduction to a found object art projects."

– School Library Connection, November-December 2020

"Boughton’s illustrations burst with color!"

– Horn Book Magazine, July/August 2021

Awards and Honors

  • Kansas NEA Reading Circle List PrimaryTitle
  • Texas Bluebonnet Master List
  • Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year Selection Title
  • Eureka! Excellence in Nonfiction Award Honor Title (CA)
  • Washington State Book Award

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Jennifer Bradbury