At a school visit yesterday I addressed three groups of students (fourth, fifth, and sixth grades) and in each group, someone asked me what was my favorite book when I was their age. Argh. I never know what to answer. One favorite? I told them how hard it was to narrow it down to one and added that I’d better come up with an answer pretty fast, because I was supposed to write a blog post on that very topic the very next day—today, in fact.
I must have told my husband at some time that The Secret Garden was my favorite childhood book because when I retired as Midsouth Regional Advisor with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, my friends in the chapter asked him what was my favorite, and that’s what he told them. At my last conference as RA they gave me a first American edition, first printing of The Secret Garden.
Isn't it beautiful? They looked for it for months and I don't even want to know how much it cost.
This book has everything: A strong main character, who comes across as a sourpuss but who is actually brave and tough; a strange voice wailing through a mansion at night; an exotic locale (Yorkshire is pretty exotic to someone growing up in suburban New York); mysterious echoes of Greek myth (Dickon/Pan); mysterious echoes of even more primal myth (Dickon’s mother/Earth Mother); the wonderful hidden place full of fertility and life (Freud, anyone?); a glimpse into adult love and pain; redemption; a satisfying ending.
So, yes—I’ve decided. The Secret Garden. Not just for all those reasons—although that would be enough to do it—but mostly because of what it now represents to me: the love and support of the wonderful writing community.