Good morning, it’s Professor Hawkins here. It’s spring! The earth is full of green things growing, the flowers are blooming, and yes, the birds are singing! Tralalalalala!
This month we are going to learn all about The Secret Garden, a perfect topic for a beautiful spring. BabyLit recently released The Secret Garden: A Flowers Primer with the lovely art of Alison Oliver. I’m here today, though, to teach you a little bit about the original novel written by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Burnett initially published the novel in 1910, in what was called serial format. That means it was published a chapter or so at a time, so you would have to wait for the next “episode” to see what happened, not all that unlike television today. The book was published in its entirety in 1911.
The Secret Garden is about a little girl named Mary Lennox. She lives in India with her wealthy British parents, but they don’t have time for her. They ignore her and she is taken care of by the servants. Because she is conversely unloved and spoiled, she is a cantankerous, bossy little girl. She has a sallow complexion and an unlikeable personality. Then a cholera epidemic comes through the house where Mary lives. It kills her parents and the servants, but Mary survives and is found alone in the house.
She is sent to live with her uncle Archibald Craven in his home near the moors in Yorkshire, England. There she learns of a secret garden, which she eventually discovers. She works to bring the garden back to life, making friends with a boy named Dickon who helps her. As Mary spends time exercising and enjoying the outdoors, her health and disposition improves, and as she makes friends and starts to have concern for others, her personality improves as well.
Mary discovers another secret in addition to the hidden garden, a kind of mystery in the house itself that she resolves, but I don’t want to give any of what the kids these days call “spoilers” so I’ll let you read for yourselves!
So until next time, keep an eye out for worms.
Sincerely, Professor Hawkins