Sunday, February 24, 2013

Book Review: The Secret Garden

The Secret GardenThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this classic. For some reason, I didn't read it in school as so many other people seem to have done. I always meant to get around to reading it.

I did hit a slump in the beginning of the book. I got started reading it and then had to hurry and read a book for book club. The Secret Garden got put on the backburner, and it took me a long time to pick it up again. I was a little disappointed at first because I wanted it to be a book my 7yr old daughter could read. While it was easily appropriate for her, I thought the Yorkshire dialect used in the dialogue would be too challenging. I found it awkward myself, and it might have been the reason I set the book aside for so long.

But I'm glad I returned to it. The book was very enjoyable. I found it reminded me of a younger charactered version of The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Straton-Porter. The story has a lot of heart. I'm not a gardener myself, but I found the love of nature and the fascination with the garden and its creatures to be quite infectious.

I was a little wary when there was so much talk of magic as the cause of things, but I realize the book is about children. We all want to believe in magic when we are kids, don't we? I liked what Susan Sowerby (Dickon's mother) said when asked if she believed in magic. "'That I do, lad,' she answered. 'I never knowed it by that name but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany . . . Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it -- an' call it what tha' likes.'"

Whoops, I forgot to mention in the review that I read a few snippets to my 7yr old, and she really enjoyed it. I decided this book would make a great read-aloud. She thinks she’s ready to read it on her own, but I think she would lose interest trying to get through all the dialogue. She doesn’t always follow through with finishing her chapter books, especially the long ones.

Right now, we are reading Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith. My kids have never seen the movie, and I’ve promised a movie night once we finish the book. I’m having a hard time keeping up with reading our chapter books out loud because my 4yr old (who I am trying to get more interested in reading) doesn’t want to listen to chapter books. She prefers picture books—and books about spiders—go figure! Anyone have any tips on how to use our family reading time in a way that I can satisfy both preferences?