The Secret Garden

 
Beautiful classic filled with magic and realism.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

For the serious kid reader, this is a stay-up-all night, flashlight-under-the-covers story with fine watercolor illustrations. The book combines realism, mystery, and moral sensibility to make a world children will love.

Positive role models

In a story written and taking place in imperial England, some class and race issues arise. Burnett shows the children's acquired prejudices to be part of their ignorance, but her attitude toward Colin's "Rajah"-like behavior is sometimes ambiguous.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this beautifully written book shows two selfish, disagreeable children transformed by the magic of nature and their own imaginations as they work to bring a near-dead garden back to life. Audiobook version read by Victoria McGee.

What's the story?

Two cousins -- one motherless, the other an orphan -- are so monstrously spoiled that no one can stand them and they can hardly stand themselves. With the help of a boy of the moors and some natural magic, they discover an abandoned garden and return it to abundance. As the garden grows the children grow -- into their own better selves.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

If you think a book from 1911 might be too stodgy to interest children, think again. Children like Frances Burnett's ability to tell the truth about her characters without condemning them. Mistress Mary, quite contrary, "was a self-absorbed child," and Colin "thought the whole world belonged to him." But Burnett makes it clear that these children have been raised without their parents' love.

Children will first be caught by the mysterious world that unfolds, and then comforted to see Colin and Mary reclaim themselves, with a little help from Mother Nature and kind friends. Burnett sets a tone balanced between unflinching realism and high optimism -- not too hard, not too soft.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about consideration and neglect.

  • Who does the author hold responsible for the children's bad temperaments at the beginning of the book? Is that fair?

Book details

Author:Frances Hodgson Burnett
Illustrator:Tasha Tudor
Genre:Fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:January 1, 1911
Number of pages:368
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of The Secret Garden was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

The best book in the history o the best books

At first the main character Mary Lennox is a spoild brat but after she finds the secret garden she starts thinking about other people and their feelings. At first I though it was boring but after I read the 1st chapter it was really interesting. It is a book you will want to read over and over again. So if you go somewhere and happen to see the book you should get it and read it. You sure won't regret it.
Parent of a 8, 10, and 13 year old Written byAvid book reader February 2, 2013
age 7+
 

A book that will engage most 7+ year old girls!

This is a beautiful book which I read aloud to each of my girls when they where 8 years old. Both of them loved it and would beg me to continue reading it. The main character, Mary Lennox, grew up in India. Her parents left her to be raised by servants who would bow to her every whim. After her parents died due to a Cholera epidemic, Mary was sent to live with her uncle. Through the discovery of a secret garden and people around her who care enough about her not to let her always have her own way, Mary gradually changes from a sullen, unhealthy and selfish child to one who cares and loves others. In the process she also helps Collin her cousin who was talked into believing he was an invalid regain his health and desire to live. Truly a beautiful story!
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written bySamiam5 April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

LOVED it then, LOVE it now

As a 5th grader, 10 yrs old, this book was an eye opener! I loved it then and am anxious for my 10 yr old to read it. She LOVES books and I never thought of this book until it was recommended! THANKS!!

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