Welcome to a monastery in the mountains of Mourne, Ireland, during the Middle Ages. Theophane is a young monk who is out of step with the other members of this community of scribes who spend their long days hunched over the Bible and other religious books they are copying. He feeds the birds from crumbs left over from his meal and then writes:
"How lovely it is today!
The sunlight flickers and breaks
on the margin of my lined book,
while a wall of woodland overlooks
a blackbird singing from the willow —
a bird, a branch, a mass of yellow."
As a disciplinary measure, Theophane is transferred from the scribe's room to a dark room at the pit of the tower where ink is made from bark. Using plants and berries, he comes up with ink of many different colors. Soon the monks in the monastery are illuminating their books with bright paints.
Writer C. M. Millen says that when she visits the ruins of a medieval monastery, she asks herself: "Who walked on these stones? Who touched these walls?" Such queries formed the basis of this impressive book for children ages six through nine. Andrea Wisnewski's illustrations were inspired by the illuminated letters monks created in The Book of Kells and others. The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane pays tribute to the this young man's reverence for nature, his love of beauty, and his use of imagination to find his own true calling or path.