For generations, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett has charmed readers with its magical setting—a hidden garden on an old English estate. The moment when young orphan Mary Lennox stumbles upon her secret place ranks high—alongside the Pevensie children’s first trip through the wardrobe into Narnia—for the spark it ignites in the imagination of the reader. Equally satisfying is the book’s insistence that simple determination can make heroines out of the most unlikely characters. As Mary relentlessly cultivates her garden, she also brings life back to Misselthwaite Manor.
If this book is a family favorite, or if you’re now inspired to share this classic with your children, The Seattle Public Library has a special program for you this week. Join us at the Central Library on Thursday, April 21, at 2 p.m. for a short play based on the book, performed by Book-It Repertory Theatre. Following the play, families will be invited into the Faye G. Allen Children’s Center’s own “Secret Garden” for a short gardening activity. Staff-recommended books for children on gardening and stories of secret places will be available for check out. This event is free, and best for ages 5 and up.
If you’ve already read The Secret Garden, here are some other children’s chapter books about gardens, secrets, and transformations guaranteed to spark the imagination.
The Time Garden by Edward Eager
Four children are reluctant to go stay with a distant relative while their parents travel on business, until they discover her garden. There grows wild, magical thyme that transport them through time on a series of unpredictable adventures.
Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
Thirteen different people tell the story of what happens when a few beans transform both an vacant lot into a garden, and a group of people into a community.
The Garden of Eve by K. L. Going
In this poignant and haunting story, eleven-year-old Eve must unlock the secret of a mysterious seed, and heal the dying orchard where she now lives, while also coming to terms with her mother’s death.
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
Forced to stay with his aunt and uncle for the summer, Tom is lonely until he discovers a mysterious, magical garden that he can enter only at night.
~ Blythe, Central Library