By Frances Hodgson Burnett
When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.
The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary’s only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. One day, with the help of two unexpected companions, she discovers a way in. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?
Though I’ve seen the cartoon version of this book, I haven’t read The Secret Garden until this year. Which is quite the tragedy because I really enjoyed this book!
Perhaps it’s a good thing I didn’t read it until now. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed or appreciated it as much if I’d read it as a child or at a younger age.
I loved the description of Mary as being this cross, horrible little child at the beginning who ends up in this dreary place. But as explores her new homes, discovers the secret garden, and makes new friends, Mary blossoms as well as any flower.
The thing I probably liked most about this book is something I wouldn’t have really appreciated when I was younger.
Slight Spoilers (but I think everyone already knows this book):
Mary and Dickon help Colin heal by encouraging him to think positive. And in the book, by thinking positively, Colin heals himself and is able to walk again.
I think you’ll agree that the following is a pretty deep thought for a children’s book:
“One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live… surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.
“Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”
Many, many adults struggle with this idea of a positivity. To find it stuck between the pages of a book from 1911 is quite remarkable.
I think I’m going to do a blog post soon with a sort of imaginary children’s bookshelf of what books are a must-read for children — The Secret Garden will definitely be included!