Picture Book Snob
An enchanting new edition of an enduring classic
Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, retold by Geraldine McCaughrean and illustrated Margarita Kukhtina, Nosy Crow
This gorgeous new version of The Secret Garden is an enormous hit in our house with both my four-year-old and my six-year-old. I was worried they might be a little young for it or find it a little dull or old-fashioned but was delighted by how much they have enjoyed it. Not having read the story since I was a child myself, I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting it too.
It's an absolutely stunning edition, with fabulous full-colour illustrations throughout. The cover under the dust-jacked is cloth-bound with gold-foil, giving the edition an antique quality and making it feel even more luxurious. It's so atmospheric, with the colours reflecting the mood of each scene. Misselthwaite Manor is suitably spooky, with lots of ominous shadows and dark corners. The landscape looks both beautiful and foreboding, depending on the emotional state of the characters.
We've read it several times now, taking a few pages at once. Every time we are out for a walk and pass a wall with ivy growing over the side of it or a wild-looking field, my youngest says "I think there's a secret garden in there." They both refer to the main character as 'Mary Lennox' (never just 'Mary') and will often say somebody looks or sounds a bit like her. My eldest said the yoga teacher that comes to her school once a week talks like Mrs Medlock. I'm not sure if that's because she actually is from the north of England or because Yorkshire my accent when reading Mrs Medlock's lines is terrible!
Award-winning author Geraldine McCaughrean's adaptation expertly refreshes the text while staying true to the original. It's amazing how 110 years after this was written, the story still seems as fresh as ever. Its message about the power of nature is just as relevant today, if not more so. It's still an intriguing and compelling story that will no doubt entertain little readers for many centuries to come. We've since moved on to The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, one chapter at a time, but I'd love an illustrated edition of it like this one.
After falling in love with this book, we also got hold of the Nosy Crow adaptation of Heidi which is part of the same series and retold by Jeanne Willis and one of our favourite illustrators, Briony May Smith. I'll share a review of it here soon. It's interesting how thematically, these two stories have a lot in common. Take a look at all the other amazing books in the Nosy Crow Classics series - I've included their covers and some interior images below. My kids and I want to collect them all and we really hope there are more stories added to it too. If you're looking for a lasting gift that a child will cherish, you can't go wrong with any of the books from this collection.
Thanks so much to Nosy Crow for sending us a gift of The Secret Garden - all opinions expressed are our own. #spring