Item description for The Secret Garden (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)) by Frances Hodgson Burnett, James Howe & Nancy Carpenter...
Overview Presents an abridged adaptation of the classic story of the ten-year-old orphan who goes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors, where she discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden. Simultaneous.
Publishers Description The story of an unhappy little girl, her invalid cousin, and the healing power of friendship and love. Reading level: 4.8.
"This adaptation has its own special appeal. Although considerably shorter than the original, it remains faithful to the plot. Allen's oversize chalk drawings are handsome. Children sometimes pass over Burnett's story because by the time they are able to read it, they are no longer interested in the subject. For them, this adaptation will work well."--Booklist.
From the Hardcover edition. Alice Sebold is the author of the novel The Lovely Bones, and a memoir, Lucky. She lives in California with her husband. CHAPTER I There Is No One Left
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 have learned 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 some one. 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.
“Some one 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.
During the confusion and bewilderment of the second day Mary hid herself in the nursery and was forgotten by every one. Nobody thought of her, nobody wanted her, and strange things happened of which she knew nothing. Mary alternately cried and slept through the hours. She only knew that people were ill and that she heard mysterious and frightening sounds. Once she crept into the dining-room and found it empty, though a partly finished meal was on the table and chairs and plates looked as if they had been hastily pushed back when the diners rose suddenly for some reason. The child ate some fruit and biscuits, and being thirsty she drank a glass of wine which stood nearly filled. It was sweet, and she did not know how strong it was. Very soon it made her intensely drowsy, and she went back to her nursery and shut herself in again, frightened by cries she heard in the huts and by the hurrying sound of feet. The wine made her so sleepy that she could scarcely keep her eyes open and she lay down on her bed and knew nothing more for a long time.
Many things happened during the hours in which she slept so heavily, but she was not disturbed by the wails and the sound of things being carried in and out of the bungalow.
When she awakened she lay and stared at the wall. The house was perfectly still. She had never known it to be so silent before. She heard neither voices nor footsteps, and wondered if everybody had got well of the cholera and all the trouble was over. She wondered also who would take care of her now her Ayah was dead. There would be a new Ayah, and perhaps she would know some new stories. Mary had been rather tired of the old ones. She did not cry because her nurse had died. She was not an affectionate child and had never cared much for any one. The noise and hurrying about and wailing over the cholera had frightened her, and she had been angry because no one seemed to remember that she was alive. Every one was too panic-stricken to think of a little girl no one was fond of. When people had the cholera it seemed that they remembered nothing but themselves. But if every one had got well again, surely some one would remember and come to look for her.
But no one came, and as she lay waiting the house seemed to grow more and more silent. She heard something rustling on the matting and when she looked down she saw a little snake gliding along and watching her with eyes like jewels. She was not frightened, because he was a harmless little thing who would not hurt her and he seemed in a hurry to get out of the room. He slipped under the door as she watched him.
“How queer and quiet it is,” she said. “It sounds as if there was no one in the bungalow but me and the snake.”
Almost the next minute she heard footsteps in the compound, and then on the veranda. They were men's footsteps, and the men entered the bungalow and talked in low voices. No one went to meet or speak to them and they seemed to open doors and look into rooms.
“What desolation!” she heard one voice say. “That pretty, pretty woman! I suppose the child, too. I heard there was a child, though no one ever saw her.”
Mary was standing in the middle of the nursery when they opened the door a few minutes later. She looked an ugly, cross little thing and was frowning because she was beginning to be hungry and feel disgracefully neglected. The first man who came in was a large officer she had once seen talking to her father. He looked tired and troubled, but when he saw her he was so startled that he almost jumped back.
“Barney!” he cried out. “There is a child here! A child alone! In a place like this! Mercy on us, who is she!”
“I am Mary Lennox,” the little girl said, drawing herself up stiffly. She thought the man was very rude to call her father's bungalow “A place like this!” “I fell asleep when every one had the cholera and I have only just wakened up. Why does nobody come?”
“It is the child no one ever saw!” exclaimed the man, turning to his companions. “She has actually been forgotten!”
“Why was I forgotten?” Mary said, stamping her foot. “Why does nobody come?”
The young man whose name was Barney looked at her very sadly. Mary even thought she saw him wink his eyes as if to wink tears away.
“Poor little kid!” he said. “There is nobody left to come.”
It was in that strange and sudden way that Mary found out that she had neither father nor mother left; that they had died and been carried away in the night, and that the few native servants who had not died also had left the house as quickly as they could get out of it, none of them even remembering that there was a Missie Sahib. That was why the place was so quiet. It was true that there was no one in the bungalow but herself and the little rustling snake.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Secret Garden (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)) by Frances Hodgson Burnett, James Howe & Nancy Carpenter has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Hornbook Guide to Children - 01/01/2006 page 59
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Studio: Random House Books for Young Readers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.4" Width: 5.2" Height: 0.4" Weight: 0.25 lbs.
Release Date Aug 31, 1993
Publisher Random House Books for Young Readers
Series Stepping Stones
ISBN 0679847510 ISBN13 9780679847519 UPC 090129003990
Availability 0 units.
More About Frances Hodgson Burnett, James Howe & Nancy Carpenter
Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) was born in Manchester. She had a very poor upbringing and used to escape from the horror of her surroundings by writing stories. In 1865 her family emigrated to the USA where she married and became the successful author of many children's books including Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Secret Garden (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))?
Favorite children's book May 29, 2008
This was my favorite book as a child. Still love it today. MUCH better than any of the movies made!
Great read for all ages Feb 10, 2008
If there is a main character for the book it is Misselthwaite Manor. If there is a present theme is that we (metaphorically speaking) can all unlock our secret garden and make it grow and make a world which we can invite others into.
The story examines a series of characters from Mary Lennox, Dicken Sowersby, Martha Sowersby and of course Colin Craven as they find their lives revolving around the gardens and the moores of a place located in Yorkshire England as they find 'the magic' of the place managing to provoke life changing lessons for all of them.
Like her other book 'The Little Princess', the book starts off in India, and like 'Little Princess', Mary suffers the death of her parents and finds herself trapped in England but that is where the novels part ways. Instead we are immersed into a world of robins, flowers, gardens and shimmering fog and springtime activities. Mistress Mary is cast among a world she barely understand but must learn to survive in. She unlocks mysteries, gets new friends and changes the life of another -- Colin forever.
Both my daughter and I enjoyed the novel until the very end where it decays a bit into endless exposition as Colin begins his scientific experiments. The ending itself almost leaves open a sequel as several character issues find themselves a bit hanging in a lurch but the focus is not on any one single character -- mistress Mary pretty much drops out of the novel halfway through it. It is on the world around us and how it can change us if we let it. We all have beautiful secret gardens in all of us if we are willing to find them and share them with others and in the world of today, that's a great message.
An Absolute Treasure! Feb 5, 2008
I can't believe I missed reading this growing up. My daughter and I just read this together. It was wonderful, and we both loved it. She likes to read books over and over, and I think she will appreciate reading this even more when she gets a little older. She loved the idea of secrets, twins, and the transformation of Mary. Having not had similar experiences to the characters in the books, such as losing close family members, she didn't quite understand the concept of a person having to learn to love and cry.
I loved the symbolism of the young girl blossoming with the garden, the relationship she develops with her cousin, the flower imagery, and the many little details like the birds nesting in the chairs in the run-down part of the manor. The mystery of this story is also wonderful and very suspenseful.
I think many adults who missed reading this growing up would enjoy this book. And I think all children, both boys and girls, should read this at least once. It is an absolute treasure.
Thoughts are "as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison." Feb 4, 2008
A spoiled girl living in India and raised by servants because her mother (Chapter 1) "cared only to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people" and her father "had always been busy and ill himself" was, by six years of age "as tyrannical and selfish a little pig ever lived" and at nine years old, the only remaining of her family, her parents having died during a cholera outbreak. "Self-absorbed" as she was, "she did not miss her [mother] at all" and, after a brief stay at poor English clergyman's house, during which she is dubbed "Mistress Mary Quite Contrary" by his children, is sent to her mother's recluse widower brother at Misselthwaite Manor in England. Cared for, again, by servants in the 600-year-old house situated at the edge of a moor, Mary is allowed to wander and explore from dawn to dusk. And doesn't meet her new guardian, Mr. Wes Craven, for an entire month. Listening to Martha, the housemaid, as she shares stories of her poor but happy life with her loving mother and many siblings, Mary is especially intrigued by anecdotes involving her brother, Dicken, who is said to have a way with wild creatures. Through luck and the help of a seemingly magical bird, friend of a gruff, stoic, tactless gardener (the very gardener who cared for Mrs. Craven's garden), Mary finds the overgrown, abandoned (for ten years) forbidden garden. She learns some secrets about the house and its inhabitants and befriends a sad, sickly boy who believes he will die and so spends all his time indoors terrorizing the servants with his demands. The two form a strong bond and, together with Dicken, share many adventures together in the secret garden. But although the story's message is overwhelmingly positive, there are some negatives, especially the racist views of Mary. In India, she treats the native servants badly. She (Chapter 2) "always slapped her Ayah in the face when she was angry." And is so outraged that Martha expected her to be "black," calls her "daughter of a pig." During the same conversation, she tells Martha that "They [natives] are not people - they're servants who must salaam to you." Racism (and the annoying Yorkshire speech) aside, the children's transformation from spoiled to spirited and the perfectly sappy ending make this an excellent story about the power of positive thinking, friendship and love. Better: Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Secret No More Feb 4, 2008
In the story, The Secret Garden, the main character is a ten year old girl named Mary Lennox. She is a selfish, sour little girl who gets everything she wants. When her parents die, she gets sent off in a train, from India, to her uncle's house, Misselthwaite Manor, in Yorkshire, England. At the house she expects to get everything she wants, but doesn't. There is nothing to do so she goes outside. Usually she would have sat inside all day in India and have people wait on her, but nothing is the same in England. Outside, is a vast open land called the moor. There is not much on it except for shrubs and grass. It is fall, so the whole land is gray and empty. Then one evening Mary hears about a secret garden that has been locked up for ten years. Apparently her uncle's wife had died in the garden. So Mary tries to find it. After awhile she makes friends with a robin who shows her where the garden is. It is surrounded by walls and inside everything is dead. Dry, gray vines hang over the walls, while dead flowers and plants lay aimlessly on the ground. Everyday Mary tends to the garden with her friend Dickon, an animal charmer, who she met. He helps Mary make the garden come alive. Then one night she heard strange crying noises in the house. She went to investigate and found out that it was a boy named Colin who actually turned out to be her cousin. Colin was a spoiled and sickly child, just like Mary used to be, and had tantrums nearly every night. Everyone was ordered to do whatever he wanted. It was also expected that he would die soon, being unable to walk and so sick all the time. The two children enjoyed each other. Together, they would laugh and play. Soon enough Mary told Colin about the garden and he decided to go see it in his wheel chair. After he had seen the garden, it was decided that it would be kept a secret and that they would go and play there without anyone ever knowing. Everyday, all three children went outside in secrecy and tended to it, in hope it would come alive. Colin then began walking and soon running. Finally the garden came alive and it looked just like and better than the children had imagined it. Then one afternoon, Colin's father came home. He saw that Colin was healthy and excepted him. They had become a family once again. I thought this book was very touching and sweet. It is not the type of book that is full of action, but the plot is simply and has a good message. The way the plot shows changes in the characters makes them come alive more and seem like real people. Even though the story was good, I thought it was a little slow. The conflicts were not very straight forward and it was a little bit too predictable. For example, Colin cannot walk. He the goes outside, which he would never do. It is very clear that he is going to get stronger and walk. The slow paste is good for less advanced readers but is nice if you would like to read a less exciting book. So I would recommend the book for relaxed reading.