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When Mary Lennox's parents die in India, she is shipped back to England to live on her uncle's estate, Misselthwaite Manor, in Yorkshire.  The place is pretty much run by the dreadful Mrs. Medlock, while Mary's uncle travels compulsively.  Lord Archibald Craven is trying to escape the memories that linger there, of his wife who died in childbirth.

Mary is a sullen brat but she is largely ignored by Mrs. Medlock and so has time to explore  the many nooks and crannies of the manor.  She finds one room that looks just like her mother's did--it is of course her aunt's--and there finds a large key.   It turns out that the key fits the door of a secret garden, which Lady Craven tended and which is now kept locked and allowed to grow wild.  Mary befriends young Dickon, whose sister is a housemaid, and together they explore the garden.

One night Mary determines to find the source of a mysterious crying she's heard in the house, and when she eventually does she discovers her cousin, Colin, who survived his mother but is now sickly, crippled and confined to his room.  He proves an even worse brat than she.  Their mutual stubbornness though proves a boon as she refuses to accept Colin's self-pitying and rejects the idea that he's truly all that ill.  She sets her mind to showing him the garden, convinced that just getting outside will do him good.  Meanwhile, he threatens and commands the staff until they allow him out of the house.  Their visits to the garden will in fact transform all of their lives in ways that will move even the most jaded reader.  No wonder it is such a beloved classic.

It's a marvelous book about the curative powers of love and nature and the will.  It's also a delight to read aloud or listen to in the car thanks to the broad Yorkshire dialect, and the Agnieszka Holland film version is not only beautiful and loyal to the original story, it is also available quite cheap on DVD.


Grade: (A)


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Children's Books
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    -ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA : "frances hodgson burnett"
    -ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA : Burnett, Frances Hodgson
    -ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA [Women in History] :  Burnett, Frances Eliza Hodgson (1849-1924), author
    -ARCHIVES : Burnett, Frances Hodgson (Making of America, Cornell)
    -ETEXTS : Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) (American Literature on the Web)
    -GRAVE : of Frances Hodgson Burnett : Roslyn Cemetery, Roslyn, New York, USA (Find a Grave)
    -ESSAY : From Folktales to Fiction: Orphan Characters in Children's Literature (Library Trends, January 01 1999 by Melanie A. Kimball)
    -Frances Hodgson Burnett (Kerri DeVault, Treasury of Children's Classics)
    -Frances Hodgson Burnett (BBC Bookcase)
    -Frances Hodgson Burnett (Write Page)
    -Frances Hodgson Burnett (K-12 Teaching and Learning Center)
    -LESSON PLANS :   The Secret Garden (Teacher Vision)
    -ARCHIVES : "Frances Hodgson Burnett" (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW : of Deborah O'Keefe's Good Girl Messages: How Young Women Were Misled by Their Favorite Books ( Gina R. Dalfonzo, Weekly Standard)

    -FILMOGRAPHY : Frances Hodgson Burnett (
    -INFO : The Secret Garden (1993) Directed by Agnieszka Holland (Imdb)
    -BUY IT : The Secret Garden (1993) DVD (Amazon)
    -REVIEW : of The Secret Garden (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -REVIEW : of The Secret Garden (Desson Howe, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW : of The Secret Garden (Megan Rosenfeld,  Washington Post)
    -REVIEW : of The Secret Garden (James Bernardelli Reel Views)
    -REVIEW : of The Secret Garden (W.J. Kimble, Christian Spotlight on the Movies)