Secret Garden

Secret Garden

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Overview

Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Random House Value Publishing

The All Aboard Reading series features stories that capture beginning readers' imagination while developing their vocabulary and reading comprehension. The Picture Readers, appropriate for preschoolers, combine a very simple text with rebuses. Flash cards bound in the book help make the transition from the rebus to the printed word. As the levels progress, the stories get longer, and the print size gets smaller, preparing readers for longer books with chapters. All the books are illustrated in full color, and engage a child's curiosity with a range of topics from science to sports, history, and fantasy. Grades 2 - Grade 4.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780517189603
Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/28/1998
Series: Children's Classics Series
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.61(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.83(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Frances Hodgson Burnett (November 24, 1849 – October 29, 1924) was an English playwright and author. She is best known for her children's stories, in particular The Secret Garden (published in 1911), A Little Princess (published in 1905), and Little Lord Fauntleroy (published in 1885-6). She was born in Cheetham, England and in 1865 emigrated to the United States, settling near Knoxville, Tennessee.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too. She had a little thin face and a little thin body, thin light hair and a sour expression. Her hair was yellow, and her face was yellow because she had been born in India and had always been ill in one way or another. Her father had held a position under the English Government and had always been busy and ill himself, and her mother had been a great beauty who cared only to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people. She had not wanted a little girl at all, and when Mary was born she handed her over to the care of an Ayah, who was made to understand that if she wished to please the Mem Sahib she must keep the child out of sight as much as possible. So when she was a sickly, fretful, ugly little baby she was kept out of the way, and when she became a sickly, fretful, toddling thing she was kept out of the way also. She never remembered seeing familiarly anything but the dark faces of her Ayah and the other native servants, and as they always obeyed her and gave her her own way in everything, because the Mem Sahib would be angry if she was disturbed by her crying, by the time she was six years old she was as tyrannical and selfish a little pig as ever lived. The young English governess who came to teach her to read and write disliked her so much that she gave up her place in three months, and when other governesses came to try to fill it they always went away in a shorter time than the first one. So if Mary had not chosen to really want to know how to read books she would never havelearned her letters at all.

One frightfully hot morning, when she was about nine years old, she awakened feeling very cross, and she became crosser still when she saw that the servant who stood by her bedside was not her Ayah.

"Why did you come?" she said to the strange woman. "I will not let you stay. Send my Ayah to me."

The woman looked frightened, but she only stammered that the Ayah could not come and when Mary threw herself into a passion and beat and kicked her, she looked only more frightened and repeated that it was not possible for the Ayah to come to Missie Sahib.

There was something mysterious in the air that morning. Nothing was done in its regular order and several of the native servants seemed missing, while those whom Mary saw slunk or hurried about with ashy and scared faces. But no one would tell her anything and her Ayah did not come. She was actually left alone as the morning went on, and at last she wandered out into the garden and began to play by herself under a tree near the veranda. She pretended that she was making a flower bed, and she stuck big scarlet hibiscus blossoms into little heaps of earth, all the time growing more and more angry and muttering to herself the things she would say and the names she would call Saidie when she returned.

"Pig! Pig! Daughter of Pigs!" she said, because to call a native a pig is the worst insult of all.

She was grinding her teeth and saying this over and over again when she heard her mother come out on the veranda with someone. She was with a fair young man and they stood talking together in low strange voices. Mary knew the fair young man who looked like a boy. She had heard that he was a very young officer who had just come from England. The child stared at him, but she stared most at her mother. She always did this when she had a chance to see her, because the Mem Sahib–Mary used to call her that oftener than anything else–was such a tall, slim, pretty person and wore such lovely clothes. Her hair was like curly silk and she had a delicate little nose which seemed to be disdaining things, and she had large laughing eyes. All her clothes were thin and floating, and Mary said they were "full of lace." They looked fuller of lace than ever this morning, but her eyes were not laughing at all. They were large and scared and lifted imploringly to the fair boy officer's face.

"Is it so very bad? Oh, is it?" Mary heard her say.

"Awfully," the young man answered in a trembling voice. "Awfully, Mrs. Lennox. You ought to have gone to the hills two weeks ago."

The Mem Sahib wrung her hands.

"Oh, I know I ought!" she cried. "I only stayed to go to that silly dinner party. What a fool I was!"

At that very moment such a loud sound of wailing broke out from the servants' quarters that she clutched the young man's arm, and Mary stood shivering from head to foot. The wailing grew wilder and wilder.

"What is it? What is it?" Mrs. Lennox gasped.

"Someone has died," answered the boy officer. "You did not say it had broken out among your servants."

"I did not know!" the Mem Sahib cried. "Come with me! Come with me!" And she turned and ran into the house.

After that appalling things happened, and the mysteriousness of the morning was explained to Mary. The cholera had broken out in its most fatal form and people were dying like flies. The Ayah had been taken ill in the night, and it was because she had just died that the servants had wailed in the huts. Before the next day three other servants were dead and others had run away in terror. There was panic on every side, and dying people in all the bungalows.

Table of Contents

1There's No One Left9
2Mistress Mary Quite Contrary16
3Across the Moor25
4Martha30
5The Cry in the Corridor48
6"There Was Some One Crying-There Was"56
7The Key of the Garden64
8The Robin Who Showed the Way71
9The Strangest House80
10Dickon91
11The Nest of the Missel Thrush103
12"Might I Have a Bit of Earth?"112
13"I Am Colin"122
14A Young Rajah136
15Nest Building149
16"I Won't!" said Mary162
17A Tantrum170
18"Tha' Munnot Waste No Time"178
19"It Has Come!"186
20"I Shall Live Forever"198
21Ben Weatherstaff207
22When the Sun Went Down218
23Magic224
24"Let Them Laugh"237
25The Curtain250
26"It's Mother!"258
27In the Garden269
Afterword285

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

Mary Lennox has no one left in the world when she arrives at Misselthwaite Manor, her mysterious uncle's enormous, drafty mansion looming on the edge of the moors. A cholera epidemic has ravaged the Indian village in which she was born, killing both her parents and the "Ayah," or Indian servant, who cared for her. Not that being alone is new to her. Her socialite mother had no time between parties for Mary, and her father was both too ill and too occupied by his work to raise his daughter. Not long after coming to live with her uncle, Mr. Craven, Mary discovers a walled garden, neglected and in ruins. Soon she meets her servant Martha's brother Dickon, a robust country boy nourished both by his mother's love and by the natural surroundings of the countryside; and her tyrannical cousin Colin, whose mother died giving birth to him. So traumatized was Mr. Craven by the sudden death of his beloved wife that he effectively abandoned the infant Colin and buried the keys to the garden that she adored. His son has grown into a self-loathing hypochondriacal child whose tantrums strike fear into the hearts of servants. The lush garden is now overgrown and all are forbidden to enter it. No one can even remember where the door is, until a robin leads Mary to its hidden key. It is in the "secret garden," and with the help of Dickon, that Mary and Colin find the path to physical and spiritual health. Along the way the three children discover that in their imaginations—called "magic" by Colin—is the power to transform lives.

While The Secret Garden is an exquisite children's story, its timeless themes, precisely drawn characters, and taut narrative make it worthy of the serious discussion due any classic novel. It is a tale of redemption, rich with biblical symbolism and mythical associations. In Mr. Craven, his stern brother, and Mary's parents, readers have found evidence of a fallen adult world. Consequently, Mary and Colin are physically and spiritually malnourished, and, in the words of Burnett, down-right rude. Mr. Craven's redemption at the hands of Colin and his niece ensures the return of good rule to the ancient, gloomy house and of health to the children. Dickon—constantly surrounded by fox, lamb, and bird—evokes St. Francis or Pan. His mother, Mrs. Sowerby, a plain-speaking Yorkshire woman, resembles the archetypal earth mother and embodies an ancient folk wisdom seen neither in Craven nor in Mary's deceased parents. Invoking traditional nature myths, Burnett aligns the spiritual growth of Mary and Colin with the seasons. Mary arrives at Misselthwaite in winter a dour and unhealthy child. She begins her gardening in the spring, and as crocuses and daffodils push up through the warming earth, her body begins to bloom and her manners to soften. Summer sees the complete regeneration of both Mary and Colin, and by the time Craven returns to Misselthwaite in autumn, the children are harvesting the fruits of their labor—health and happiness. Finally, the overarching symbol of the book is the secret garden, a lost paradise of love and happiness—a version, perhaps, of the Garden of Eden, now reclaimed and rejuvenated.

Throughout The Secret Garden, Burnett seamlessly intertwines the elements of her craft, moving easily between the teasing narrative and dialogue that speaks to a child and the strands of dramatic development, complex characters, theme, and symbolism. Indeed, it is this extraordinary balance that makes

The Secret Garden not just "one of the most original and brilliant children's books of this century," as Alison Lurie says in her introduction to the Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics edition, but also an enduring novel of ideas.

ABOUT FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT

Frances Eliza Hodgson was born on November 24, 1849, in Manchester, England, the third of Edwin Hodgson's and Eliza Boond's five children. Her father ran a prosperous firm which specialized in the trade of decorative arts for the interiors of houses. At the time, Manchester was experiencing a textile boom which infused the town with a rising middle-class, and because these families were erecting magnificent houses, Hodgson's merchandise was in demand. The prosperity of the Hodgson family was cut short in 1854 when Edwin suffered a stroke. Even more devastating to the family fortune was the American Civil War, which caused a cessation of cotton shipments from Southern plantations, crippling Manchester's economy. Eliza Hodgson decided to emigrate to America, and in 1865, when Burnett was sixteen, the family settled in a small town about twenty-five miles from Knoxville, Tennessee. This move would prove instrumental in Burnett's development as a writer. Although she had always been obsessed with storytelling and often amused her schoolmates by acting out tales of adventure and romance, the financial strain of the emigration caused her to turn to writing as a means of supplementing the family's income. The move from industrial England to rural America was for the family a journey to the green, natural world that would become a central theme in many of Burnett's later works, including The Secret Garden.

Burnett's first published story, "Miss Carruthers' Engagement," appeared in a magazine called Godey's Lady's Book in 1868. After the death of her mother in 1872, the family became increasingly dependent on her writing income. She accelerated her career as a popular writer and sold stories to many magazines. In September of 1873 she married Swann Burnett, a doctor from Tennessee who was preparing to specialize in the treatment of the eye and ear. He wished to further his specialty by studying in Europe, and Burnett financed his wish, once again becoming responsible for the bulk of her family's income. In 1874, she gave birth to her son Lionel and began work on her first major novel, The Lass o' Lowries. The critical response was encouraging, and many reviews compared Burnett's work to that of Charlotte Brontë and Henry James. In 1879 she published her novel Haworth, her first attempt at serious fiction. Later that same year, one of her first children's stories appeared in St. Nicholas, a magazine in which she would publish for years to come. It is at this time that Burnett, who was constantly battling illness, acquainted herself with the philosophies of Spiritualism, Theosophy, Mind Healing, and Christian Science. These philosophies' ideas about the healing powers of the mind became a crucial motif in much of her writing, most notably in A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and The Lost Prince.

In 1886 Little Lord Fauntleroy, the book that transformed Burnett's life, was published. It became a runaway bestseller in America and England. While the success of the book branded Burnett a popular and romantic writer rather than a serious artist, it provided her with enough income to free her from an unhappy marriage and allow her to travel through Europe. In 1890 Burnett's first son Lionel was diagnosed with consumption and died that same year. By 1898, Burnett and Swann divorced by mutual consent, and she leased a country house in England where she immersed herself in her passion for gardening. The estate was surrounded by several walled gardens, one of which, a rose garden, served as her outdoor workroom. It was here that the idea of The Secret Garden was born.

Over the course of her life, Burnett wrote more than forty books, for both adults and children. While her adult novels are considered to be quite sentimental, her children's books have withstood the fickleness of literary fashions. The Secret Garden, the story of how Mary Lennox and her friends find independence as they tend their garden, has been described as one of the most satisfying children's books ever written. Frances Hodgson Burnett died of congestive heart failure on October 29, 1924.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. Martha, in fact, says Mary is "as tyrannical as a pig" and that Colin is the "worst young newt as ever was." Why are both of these children so ill-tempered? Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents? How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the "fallen world of adults"?
     
  • Why does Mary respond so well to Martha? What characteristics of Martha's personality are responsible for awakening the gentleness hidden in Mary? Compare Martha's treatment of Mary to Mary's treatment of Colin. Does it have the same effect on Colin as it does on Mary?
     
  • Upon Mary's first encounter with Dickon, Burnett describes the boy in this way: "His speech was so quick and easy. It sounded as if he liked her and was not the least afraid she would not like him, though he was a common moor boy, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them." What is significant about this passage? Are there any particular motifs that seem to be connected specifically to Dickon?
     
  • Compare Dickon's upbringing with Mary's and Colin's. How is it different? Is it important, or just incidental, that Dickon is a "common moor boy" rather than a member of the "privileged class"?
     
  • Could Mary and Colin have found the path to spiritual and physical healing without Dickon?
     
  • Is Colin's deceased mother's spirit present in the book? Where and when do you sense it the most? Who does she employ as her "agents" of goodwill in the book?
     
  • Misselthwaite Manor is a house of masculine rule, whether it be Mr. Craven's or Colin's rule. The garden, however, is a place of fertility and regrowth. This type of symbolism structures the novel. Where else is this structure manifested in the novel?
     
  • In its theme of the mind's potential for regeneration, The Secret Garden has often been considered a tribute to the "New Thought" movement, which included ideas of Christian Science and Theosophy. How do you feel about this? Do you think that the "magic" employed by Colin was as crucial to his healing as was communion with nature and other living things?
     
  • Discuss the regionalist aspects of the novel, such as the Yorkshire dialects. How do they contribute to the overarching themes of The Secret Garden?
     
  • In your opinion, does Mr. Craven, after subjecting his son to years of neglect, deserve redemption?
     
  • Which narrative features were employed by the author to make The Secret Garden speak to children? Why do you think this novel appeals to an adult audience as well? What makes it a classic?
     
  • Customer Reviews

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    The Secret Garden 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1345 reviews.
    moniema More than 1 year ago
    I am 9 years old, about the same age as Mary the main character in the book. When I first got the book I thought I would not be interested in it. However, I kept on reading and it got really good. The story is very well told, it is easy to follow, the vocabulary is not very hard. You just have to be patient and towards the middle the story gets very interesting. Also at the end of the book there are questions about the story that makes you wonder how you would feel in Mary's situation. My mom felt that this book would be a good introduction to reading good literature, and I agree. I felt it was very educational and appropriate for my reading level. I would recommend it to any girl or boy that is ready for some serious reading.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    The first time I read this book must have been when I was in fourth grade, and I loved it so much and read it many times after that. I had to do a book report and that was when my dad recommended this book to me. I was reluctant to read this book at first, however, I was quickly captured in the magic of this book. It truly opened a door to a new world of a journey in a land of Classic books. I cried while reading this book.. because I'm also very emotional. It's about an arrogant, selfish, and lonely girl who discovers a secret world behind a door. Gradually through the stories she learns to smile, laugh, and be a child. She makes friends for the first time and becomes more bright and glowing then ever! If you don't read this book... you will regret it... Read it and enjoy!!! :)
    Shadow51 More than 1 year ago
    This is a true classic. A girl named Mary Lennox was a selfish, unattractive and disagreeable child. When both her mother and her father dies, she is sent to live in her uncle's mansion. One day she discovers a key that would open a garden that has not been entered in 10 years. She goes into the garden every day and each day she's in there she becomes a little less selfish, a little more attractive , and a little more lovable. This is a must read book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is a great book for anyone from children to adults. A reminder of what childhood can be when we give children what they need.
    thirsting_for_knowledge More than 1 year ago
    as a person that likes the classics with action and books of warfare, i thought my friend was crazy when he recommended this book to me. to be honest, i was very doubtful of the book when i bought it. much to my astonishment, this book is full of moral meaning in life itself; a girl who hasn't been loved at all in her life is sent to live with her uncle. she never loved anyone since she hadn't had anyone love her, and as such, was a very miserly person with no care in the world for a soul around her. as she lives with her uncle in a huge house, she often hears cries coming from the part in the house she is to refrain from going to. one night she ventures in to find her cousin whom she had never even known about; he was much the same as she was, a very horrid person. the girl meets Dickon, a very loving and caring person. his love and care rubs off on her, and in turn, it rubs off on her cousin Colin. all in all, it is a great moral in life at how one person can turn an entire family around with very little influence.
    EmmaAusten More than 1 year ago
    I remember reading this book as a kid but it seemed heavy and difficult back then. After re-reading it I see all that I missed during my first reading. It is a wonderful book full of suspense, sadness, happiness and hope. I really think it should be something that middle school or high school kids read as they are more adult to understand some of the concepts in it. Otherwise I suggest parents read it with your children so you can explain the vernacular and time period. I love the descriptions of the garden and characters. It is correct to be a classic. Read it and get transported to your youth, playing outside and enjoying nature.
    AutismMom More than 1 year ago
    Not the book, but the loads and loads of typos. I downloaded the free version of the ebook to my nook. What a waste. I got so sick of trying to figure out what the book was trying to say, and bought the inexpensive version. I understand that free will not mean fancy, but if they are not even going to bother to at least proofread the typos out of the book, then why bother, it just makes them (Google books) look stupid. However, the book itself, the story, it is a very interesting tale. I am at a part of the book (no, I won't spoil anything) where Mary is discovering the world around her. A classic, and definitely worth a read.
    GordonF More than 1 year ago
    The story is simply told, with a kind of soft flourish that brings everything into vivid life. It's full of the kind of simple magic that fuels some of the best kinds of stories - at once believable, and simultaneously not just magic. The three main children each comes from a different life, a different way of looking at the world - and all three find the common ground as children only can. This is the kind of book that should be read in schools.
    Gardenseed More than 1 year ago
    Avery nice edition with black and white illustrations, relatively large print and wide margins, give the text an approachable appearance. An orphaned girl, living with a morose uncle in a huge and gloomy English mansion finds the key to a forbidden garden, befriends a cousin who has been living in hiding, and makes friends with all - especially Dickon, a boy who loves animals. This is the only unabridged hard cover edition of this favorite of generations of girls that I could find at this time,2012, and the fact that it is such a nice one make it a truly a treasure. A companion is A Little Princess, from the same publisher. I feel that I have found a treasure and want to share it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Still can not belive that she is yellow but it is a great book i may only be 10 but i know a good book whean i see one this is a classic and i highly recommened it for anyone who is looking for a super good book. My complements to the author.THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!!!!!!:)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is about a selfish, unattractive girl named Mary Lennox. In the beginning, Mary's parents die of cholera and she is moved her uncles mansion called Misslewaithe Manor. There she discovers a secret world behind a door, a friendly robin and three new friends. Each day when she visits her secret world she becomes a little more selfless attractive and a better friend. This is a must-read classic with mystery and adventure around every corner.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book tells a story of what can happen when a child sets there mind to somethinh they belive in or what they think is right
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The Secret Garden is an emotional story. It involves drama, love, sadness, and ends in happy way. Though it is a great book it would be challenging for young readers minds.
    trails More than 1 year ago
    I loved this story, and couldn't wait to hear what Mary was up to next.
    GraceC More than 1 year ago
    If you Love the movie you will enjoy the book even more. I remember watching the movie when i was little and just hateing how boring it was, but i just wasnt old enough to appreceate the story. This is not just a childrens stroy now that im older i understand the deeper meanings and it wasnt boring to me at all. its a very good story and if you read it as a kid. You need to go back and read it agian.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love this old book. It is great reading, for anyone 5 & up. As long as you can read. It is about a selfish rich girl who learns to be a great person. She look for a secret garden, meets a reletive she did'nt know about, & makes new friends at her Uncle's manor when she becomes a orphan. I saw the Movie first, it was great too! & it isn't a long book it was only 200 pages! Overall Great Story, you should get it. MorganHorseRiderAnimalLover0298 Age 11 & Homeschooled
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love this book!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have not read this book yet but it sounds very interesting . I can't wait to try it! The book sound like it would be good for all ages. I think every one should try it. Don't judge a book by its cover!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    If yu bu the humming room book it also has the real story of the secret garden too. Awsome!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is awsome!!!!!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I would definately recommend reading this book. There are lots of strange typos but it is still understandable...great classic story.
    jasper-silverowl More than 1 year ago
    i finished reading this book in one day so i could not put up the reading now sign. my favourite character is colin craven. he is a lesson for all those who struggle with personal problems, because he overcomes the thought of being a dying hunchback. i will post more classic reviews.
    LostInMyBook More than 1 year ago
    This book was so much fun to read.Not just a book for children but great for adults too.I loved the authors style of writing I was really able to escape into the Secret Garden myself.
    Chelsea43231 More than 1 year ago
    I love this book. It brings back so many good memories of reading it as a little girl. This story would be great to read to children to introduce them to great writing.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Most 'bad' kids are bad because they feel they aren't loved. This book shows that when they are loved that they can change and bring even more love into the world and to those around them. A spectacular story of change.