Tourist Tip #359 / Gardens in Holon With a Story to Tell the Kids

The city of Holon, just south of Tel Aviv, has erected 36 sculpture gardens complete with playground facilities - inspired by Hebrew children's books.

Traveling with small children can be delightful – one can overcome the all-but-inevitable difficulties with the consoling thought that the little'uns are seeing the world and will be all the richer for it. But it can be difficult to keep them happy as one happily treks ruins. The "story gardens" of the city of Holon, south of Tel Aviv, can be a nice place to spend a few hours that the kids should enjoy, even if they don't know the "story" in question, while the parents can appreciate the landscape artwork and the smiles of the small ones.

Each of Holon's 36 story gardens – ganei sipur – is a sculpture garden inspired by a popular Hebrew children's book, complete with playground facilities. The city commissioned the art from Israeli artists and placed the works in green spaces throughout the city.

Possibly of less interest to touring families is the Holon municipality's stated educational intention of raising awareness of literature. But the city also makes the charming point that it's a nice way for immigrant children to get to know "the protagonists of Israeli children's fiction."

A great favorite among children, and their parents too, is "Nehama the Louse," by the renowned Israeli author Meir Shalev. Nehama is a sweet little adventurous lousette who travels the world and has adventures but longs for love and stability. Tourism Tip will avoid spoilers so we won't tell you what happens. That is but one of the stories perpetuated in statue form. Artist Yisraela Hargil built two giant heads – one with hair, one bald, representing homes for lice, and also built some springy lice (as the city puts it in its website) for kids to play on.

A very different offering is the park based on another perennial favorite among the 3- to 8-year-old set – Caspion the Little Fish, another adventurer. This park features a "kinetic water sculpture" – think, kicky fountain.

For more information on the Holon Story Parks, visit http://www.holon.muni.il/English/Culture/Pages/Gardens.aspx.

David Bachar
David Bachar