Book Review – The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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(My Rating: 5/5)

This is only the second children’s book I have read since I reviewed The Railway Children by E. Nesbit some months ago, and I loved it for SO many reasons, that I am sure I will forget at least a few while writing this review!

At the beginning of the story, which was first published in 1911, we are introduced to Mary Lennox, a little English girl who has lived in India for all of her life, but now, under tragic circumstances, she is sent to live with her brooding, elusive uncle in England, in a large mansion on the Yorkshire moors.

Mary, who is a spoilt, fussy, difficult child soon realises that her new house and occupants seem to be hiding many secrets. She slowly begins to uncover some of these and undergoes a transformation in the process. She gradually discovers the joys of childhood that she knew nothing about before. Due to her interaction with some very kind and caring individuals – mainly the house help – she begins to grow healthy, less churlish and even considerate of others. From this point on there are more wonderful secrets she uncovers and more wonderful people that come into her life and she ultimately plays a vital role in restoring a damaged relationship.

I read this book during a time I was going through something very sad, as well as emotionally and physically draining. A story that inspired hope, spoke about the goodness of people transforming one’s life and about the possibility and joy of turning a seemingly hopeless situation into something beautiful, through determination, care and love, was just the sort of of story I needed to read. It reminded me, in the midst of my sorrow for something I had lost, to stop and notice the beauty that already exists, right now, in my life. Once again a book came into my life at just the right moment, and in a way, helped save me. Continue reading

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Book Review – The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

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(My Rating: 3/5)

I have started to read, in between ‘heavy’ books, the many children’s classics that I either never read as a child or have forgotten the stories of. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I know my son will be ready to begin reading these books in a few years.

The Railway Children is the first Nesbit I have read and tells the adventure story of 3 children whose circumstances suddenly change, forcing them to leave their comfortable life in London and move with their mother to the countryside to smaller dwellings and a simpler lifestyle.

There are several things I enjoyed about this book: Continue reading

Reading Challenge 2016 – Book 3: The Mousewife by Rumer Godden

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The illustrations in the book are by William Pene du Bois

(My rating: 4/5)

Within this tiny book, with its tiny protagonist, lies a big story about a big heart.

The Mousewife is a tale about the true meaning of friendship and selfless love; of giving someone the opportunity to pursue a dream – a dream that might also be your own dream –  knowing fully well that you may yourself never have the same opportunity; and finally, of rejoicing in the knowledge that you have allowed someone the chance to be happy.

I think it is one of those books where all readers will see several common themes, but also where each reader will take something unique from it and that is a pretty remarkable feat for a book that is only around 40 – 50 pages long! Continue reading

Book Review – A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

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(My Rating: 3 / 5)

Book 1 of A Series of Unfortunate Events tells the story of how the Baudelaire orphans’ plight came to be and the events that occurred soon after.

The story’s message – of life not always turning out how you expect it to and never giving up, even in the face of extreme adversity – is a good one for its target audience, which I imagine is children aged 8 / 9 years and above.

Also keeping in mind the target audience, I thought the idea of explaining what difficult words mean, right there, as they pop up in the text, was an excellent one.

Yet somehow I didn’t find the book riveting enough. I expected more. Not from the story – because it is a good one – but from the writing of it. I kept feeling like I was reading an abridged version of a far more compelling tale, one that was not allowed to be told in all its glory. (But I am no expert on who the target audience is or should be and what is suitable for them, so perhaps that is where the problem lies) I just felt like the story hadn’t realised its full potential. This is one of the few occasions where I found the movie more enjoyable than the book.