Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Secret Garden Audio

The Secret Garden Audio

Frances Hodgson Burnett
For ages 9 to 12
Performed/read by: Johanna Ward
1992   ISBN: 1433254301

Little Mary Lennox is probably the most sour, unattractive, and disagreeable child that you are ever likely to meet. Of course this is not all her fault for her parents never gave her much of their 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 though 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 expect her to even 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 which 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 which will open it.  Little does she know it, but there is something about the garden which is indeed magical, for 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 has been dried up and allowed to harden and to get 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 which will surely continue to charm readers of all ages.

Johanna Ward helps to bring Mary and the other characters to life complete with Yorkshire accents which are amusing and infectious.