Thursday, July 15, 2010

July is Classic Book Month on TTLG - Day Six

Summers on the island of Cyprus where I grew up are very long and hot, and when I wasn't at the pool or at the beach, I spent a lot of my time reading. One of the books I discovered one summer was The Secret Garden. My father kept telling me it was a wonderful book and so I kept refusing to read it! Then a friend told me that she loved the book, and not long after I read the book and I was hooked. This edition of this classic story is not only a joy to read, but it is also a joy to look at.

Frances Hodgson Burnett
Illustrated by Inga Moore
For ages 8 to 12
Candlewick Press, 2007, 0763631612
Little Mary Lennox is probably the most sour, unattractive, and disagreeable child that you are ever likely to meet. This is not entirely her fault because her parents never gave her much attention and certainly none of their love. Instead, Mary was raised by an Indian nurse, an ayah, who gave Mary everything she wanted and who let the little girl be as bossy and rude as she wanted to be.
   Now Mary's parents are both dead and she is going to live with her hitherto unseen uncle who lives in a gloomy old manor house on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. How different this place is from India and how different the people are too. Here no one salaams to her, and they even expect her to  dress herself every morning. Bit by bit, Mary starts to learn more and more about her new home. She learns that there is a secret garden somewhere on the grounds, a garden that has been closed off from the world for years.
Mary cannot help wanting to find the secret garden, and with the help of a friendly little robin bird, she manages to find both the hidden door and the key that will open it. Little does she know that there is something about the garden that is indeed magical. The longer Mary stays and works in the garden, the nicer, prettier, and healthier she becomes. Mary begins to make friends for the first time in her life.
   Then Misselthwaite gives up another of its secrets, and Mary finds herself facing a real challenge, one which may end up spoiling the secret of the garden forever.
This beautiful story is certainly one of the best children's books that has ever been written. Readers will see how good sense, kindness, love, and being out in nature can help someone whose heart and mind have dried up and become hard and bitter. They will see how bringing a garden to life can be healing to those whose bodies and spirits are weak and sad. First published in 1911, this is a tale that will surely continue to charm readers of all ages for years to come.
   Inga Moore's gorgeous illustrations perfectly capture the underlying magical element in this special story. Soft colors and intimate details give the full page pictures an added richness. In addition, there are numerous little illustrations and smaller panels throughout the book, which add a very special something to the tale. 

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