Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: What makes a classic?

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.


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