Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) was born and lived her early life in Manchester, England. When her father, a successful merchant, had a stroke and the American Civil War crippled the city's economy the impoverished family emigrated to a small rural town in Tennessee. A storyteller since her youth, Frances started to write for an income. The author of more than 40 books, her breakthrough novel came with Little Lord Fauntleroy, which became a bestseller. Her work was compared to that of Charlotte Bronte and Henry James. Unhappily married, and after the death of her son, Lionel, she moved to England in 1890 and rented an estate with several walled gardens. It was in the rose garden, her outdoor studio, that the notion of The Secret Garden was born.Robert Ingpen was born in Geelong, Australia. He began studying illustration art and book design over fifty years ago at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and has designed, written and illustrated more than one hundred works of fiction and non-fiction. In 1986, Ingpen received the highest honour in the children's book world, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, for his contribution to international children's literature. He has also recently been awarded an honorary doctorate from RMIT and granted Membership of the Order of Australia for services to literature. He and his wife Angela live and work in Anglesea near their home town of Geelong. In recent times, he has illustrated editions of classic works such as The Jungle Book, Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the centenary editions of Peter Pan and Wendy and The Wind in the Willows.
Gr 3-5-Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic is the quintessential tale of re-awakening and redemption. Mary Lennox, the spoiled poster-child of literature, wins our hearts as we come to empathize with her abandonment in the care of a remote uncle on the gray Yorkshire moors. Finding the key to a mysterious garden is the key to her blossoming as a person. The point of the Classic Starts Series is to make timeless stories accessible to young children, and this is a laudable goal. However, this version (Sterling, 2005), abridged by Martha Hailey, has been so simplified and Americanized that it loses its Yorkshire soul. The narrator's mellow voice is pleasant, but there is little attempt made to distinguish different character voices or to connect the tale to the English countryside. Discussion questions are posed at the end of the book (but not the CD) for further classroom study. There is also a short treatise by Arthur Prober, EdD, defending the abridgement of classics as a way to encourage independent reading of an otherwise overwhelmingly lengthy novel.-Lonna Pierce, MacArthur Elementary School, Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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