Book: Gilly and the Garden


In Gilly and the Garden, an ECSELent Adventures story, Hemmy and Shemmy are so good at caring for their garden, it’s time for them to care for another living thing, too! Yet even when they take the very best care of something they love, the unexpected happens.

Learn, grow, and develop alongside Hemmy and Shemmy as they experience the ups and downs of responsibility, the peace that can come from navigating a range of emotions, and the way joyful memories can help lessen the pain of death and loss. Otter siblings Hemmy and Shemmy, ambassadors of Housman Institute’s emotional, cognitive, and social early learning ECSELent Adventures program, invite children to join them as they explore, discover, and begin to understand and manage the big world of their own emotions and those of others, and in the process learn to become the boss of their feelings-both big and small.

  • Reading age: 4-8 years
  • Language: English
  • Print length: 32 pages

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“Gilly and the Garden” is Dr. Donna Housman’s debut book for children ages 4 through 7 intended to help them learn to cope with loss and death. As the first in the book series “The ECSELent Adventures of Hemmy and Shemmy,” it has been selected by the Children’s Book Council for their Hot off the Press List.

While many children have faced the loss of a parent, loved one, or pet, the book is particularly well-timed as the Imperial College of London recently shared that 258,800 children in the United States and 7 million globally have lost a primary or secondary caregiver due to COVID-19, meaning one or both parents or a grandparent living with the family.



  • Social-Emotional Focus: Managing big emotions is fundamental to learning and thriving. Hemmy and Shemmy will show children how to become the boss of their own feelings, both big and small.
  • Reader Notes, Tips, and Guiding Questions: “Gilly and the Garden” contains tips for readers when talking about grief, loss, and death with young children and over 20 guiding questions for social-emotional learning.
  • Book Series: “Gilly and the Garden” is the first in the book series “The ECSELent Adventures of Hemmy and Shemmy”. The second book “Theo’s Deliciously Different Dumplings” will be released in November 2022 and more to come in 2023.



Donna Housman headshot

Dr. Donna Housman has spent her professional career in the world of early childhood development and education. Believing that it is far easier to prevent than repair, Dr. Housman founded Housman Institute, along with its lab school and early childhood development center, based on emotional foundations of learning and cognition and informed by research in neuroscience, child development, and early education. Seizing the opportunity to inform the architecture of the brain in the earliest years, her Emotional, Cognitive, and Social Early Learning (ECSEL) approach promotes healthy brain development and a positive sense of self by fostering the building blocks of emotional intelligence starting from birth.

Dr. Housman has trained thousands of early childhood educators, children, and families in her ECSEL approach while being a consistent source of vital counsel and guidance for families and educators on young children’s social and emotional development.

Additional information

Weight 0.79 kg
Dimensions 25.4 × 28 × 0.635 cm
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