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The Secret Garden


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Gr 4-7-Although an abridgement, this audiobook captures the essence of the classic children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Raised in India, Mary Lennox is sent to live with an uncle she never met at Misselthwaite Manor in England when her parents die. At first, Mary hates living on the English moors. Like her deceased parents, Mary's uncle ignores the child and leaves her in the care of the housekeeper and other servants. Encouraged to play outside by Martha, a housemaid, Mary meets Ben Weatherstaff, a gardener, and she learns about the secret garden. While playing in the garden, Mary discovers the locked door leading in to the secret garden. One night, Mary hears someone crying, and discovers her invalid cousin in a dark room. The two children explore the healing magic of the secret garden. British actress Jenny Agutter narrates the story with a carefully modulated accent, and classical music plays in the background. Despite the quality of the audiobook, the Victorian language may be a deterrent and the story's plot may be outdated for most modern listeners. Consider adding this audiobook to collections where classic children's literature is popular.-Sarah Prielipp, Chippewa River District Library System, Mt. Pleasant, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Soothing and mellifluous, native Briton Bailey's voice proves an excellent instrument for polishing up a new edition of Burnett's story. Bratty and spoiled Mary Lennox is orphaned when her parents fall victim to a cholera outbreak in India. As a result, Mary becomes the ward of an uncle in England she has never met. As she hesitantly tries to carve a new life for herself at imposing and secluded Misselthwaite Manor, Mary befriends a high-spirited boy named Dickon and investigates a secret garden on the Manor grounds. She also discovers a sickly young cousin, Colin, who has been shut away in a hidden Manor room. Together Mary and Dickon help Colin blossom, and in the process Mary finds her identity and melts the heart of her emotionally distant uncle. Bailey makes fluid transitions between the voices and accents of various characters, from terse Mrs. Medlock and surly groundskeeper Ben to chipper housemaid Martha. And most enjoyably, she gives Mary a believably childlike voice. A brief biography of the author is included in an introduction. Ages 6-12. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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