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by James Mayhew, illustrated by James Mayhew

Age Range: 5 - 7

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-439-40435-5
Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

A sumptuously illustrated tale pays homage to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic. While Mayhew (To Sleep, Perchance to Dream, 2001, etc.) loosely refers to the original work, his subtle alterations and embellishments make this a unique extension of Burnett’s story rather than an exact replica. Basking in the warmth of a summer day, Sophie, whose favorite book just happens to contain a secret garden, wishes for a companion. This desire spurs a dream-like sequence where fey woodland creatures lead Sophie on a merry game of seek-and-find, drawing her deeper through the woods. She follows a robin carrying a key to a walled garden, which contains a squirrel frolicking with a hat. Further explorations reveal a lamb carrying a jump rope and a fox playing with a doll. Gathering the playthings, Sophie admonishes the animals, somewhat hopefully, with the refrain “Somebody will be looking for this!” Eventually, she discovers a young girl—and new playmate—named Mary. Mayhew’s exquisitely detailed, full-page illustrations lend an ethereal quality to the outing. Delicate cut-outs in the pages allow readers to glimpse the next clues in Sophie’s sleuthing game, while the soft watercolors capture the lush beauty of a summer garden filled with variegated hues. Waiting for discovery in the intricate paintings are an abundance of whimsical details to delight readers. A lovely seduction to tempt readers to the longer story. (Picture book. 5-7)