After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. She is lonely and has no one to play with, but one day she learns of a secret garden somewhere in the grounds that no one is allowed to enter. Then Mary uncovers an old key in a flowerbed – and a gust of magic leads her to the hidden door. Slowly she turns the key and enters a world she could never have imagined.
Families are unique and have different expectations for the books they choose to read. The following are concepts included in this book that some parents may wish to seek out or avoid.
Note that this list is not exhaustive and there may be concepts in this book that are not included or have been insufficiently or incorrectly detailed here.
I've heard for years that I needed to read The Secret Garden and finally got around to doing a read-aloud with my wife and little boy. It really is a delightful book. I can imagine that some people dismiss it for suggesting that all of people's problems would go away if they just try thinking positively. Of course, some problems won't, but I think it's a powerful book for teaching the power of positive thinking to children and a great reminder for adults. It's a little cheesy at times, but that's part of what makes it fun--you keep waiting for the hat to drop, for some big crisis, and it never really comes. It's just a feel-good book through and through, and that was surprisingly refreshing. Though there's no big crisis or setback the characters have to work through, I love that it can be an early reader's first foray into some mystery as well.
The Secret Garden is one of my favorite stories from my childhood. I love Mary's self discovery and her help to Colin and ultimately Mr. Craven along the way. I love the way she gains color in her cheeks as she experiences the joy of playing and working outside and nurturing a garden and befriending a robin, joys that Martha and Dickon help her discover. I love that she feels the happiness that comes as she moves from a very self-centered character to thinking of others and putting their needs and wellbeing above her own. She also is lovingly forthright and frank with Colin, which helped him develop, too.
Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) was born in Manchester. She had a very poor upbringing and used to escape from the horror of her surroundings by writing stories. In 1865 her family emigrated to the USA where she married and became the successful author of many children’s books including Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess.
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