The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Inga Moore
Candlewick Press, 2008.
Grades: All ages
Reviewed from personal copy.
Sometimes when I go back and reread a book, I find that I don't like it as much the second or third time around. I've reread books that I liked when I was a kid, but I don't like them as an adult. But there are some books that are better the second, third, or fourth time around. And that is for me what creates a classic. I confess I don't like a lot of the books that are traditionally called classics, many of which are too dark and depressing for my taste. I like books that contain a strong element of hope.
I heard about this beautifully illustrated version of The Secret Garden and I wanted it. When it came, I started to reread the book, not having read it since childhood. I loved it. I loved the characters, Mary, and Dickon, and Colin and Martha, even crotchety Ben Weatherstaff. I enjoyed reading about Mary's excitement when she finds the garden and how she comes alive along with the garden. And the illustrations are amazing. I wanted to jump into the book just so I could see the garden up close. I read the book slowly so I could savor every word. And above all, the book is about hope, about life and the beauty found therein. Our world is so focused on the negative sometimes, that a good dose of hope is like a breath of fresh air. Just like this book. A powerful reminder that while I enjoy new books, sometimes there is nothing quite like an old friend.