At some point in my middle school career, I set a goal to read all of the classic stories. I blew through the fantasy stories. Struggled through Black Beauty, because despite it’s being a horse story, it wasn’t cheerful. Then I discovered Secret Garden. For whatever reason, I grew enchanted with it, and read it over and over again during my middle school years. I distinctly remember watching the movie version that came out in the mid-90s and loving it. I waited for an excuse to have my kids read Secret Garden as part of our book and a movie series, and when we studied Modern history in our history lessons, it fit right in being set in the turn of the last century (anyone else still feel weirded out to say that?). Unfortunately, I was outvoted on which version of the Secret Garden to watch for our Secret Garden movie night.
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Secret Garden synopsis
Mary is orphaned and sent far from her home in India to live with her uncle on the moors (side note, that always sounded so magical and mysterious reading it as a kid). Once there she slowly learns how to make friends and the joys of living outside.
That’s a really awful synopsis, but I honestly don’t know how to make it better. The description on the picture above, took me five different searches to find a halfway decent description (ironically from an edition with the same illustration I read growing up). I’m not the only person struggling to summarize The Secret Garden. According to the various reading level guides I found, this is a 3rd-grade book. While some kids might be able to read it at 3rd grade, I honestly think this makes a great read-aloud for that age.
Secret Garden movie night snacks
There’s not a lot there we could easily make into snacks, but we did our best.
For our “healthy” fare we had ham, bread, and vegetables. They make quite an emphasis on her eating “plain healthy fare.”
Then for our fun snacks we had:
- flutes- made of licorice
- robin’s eggs- made from, that’s right robin’s eggs
- worms- gummy worms
- logs- made of nutty buddy and Swiss Rolls
- leaves- maple leaf cookies
- flowers- I meant to make some flowers using cookie cutters but didn’t this time
- dirt- chocolate pudding with some crushed cookies in it
- shovels- oreo with a pretzel stick (I like this for keeping pretzels fresh)
- key- I wish I’d done this either as a cookie, of as a pretzel stick with candy melts or some other candy stuck to it, I’ve got an idea in my head, but never quite worked out how to do it
So, we watched the BBC Secret Garden version, which has a young Colin Firth in it a year or two before he became Mr. Darcy. They set this version as flashbacks and the current time is World War 1, which worked out perfect for us because by the time the kids were done reading it, we were right smack in the middle of our World War 1 unit. I still wish we’d watched the 90s Secret Garden I knew.