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The Garden of Lost Secrets

The Garden of Lost Secrets

Published: 13 Jun 2019

Paperback / softback, 304 pages

Recommended for age 9+ and 11+

By A.M. Howell

Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd

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October, 1916. Clara is sent to stay with her formidable aunt and uncle in the grounds of a country estate. Clara soon discovers that her new surroundings hold secrets: a locked room and a hidden key, and a mysterious boy who only appears in the gardens at night... But can Clara face up to her own secrets, and a war she's desperate to forget?

This title features in our The Reading Journey selection.

Tagged First World War and war and conflict

Reviewed by Fiona Thompson

The Garden of Lost Secrets by A. M. Howell is a lovely story set in Britain in World War One. It is a tale of a girl (Clara) who is sent away to live with her aunt on a large estate. The description of the gardens is beautiful, and you feel as if you are transported to another time and place as you read. While there, Clara discovers many mysteries which she tries to solve and, in doing so, develops her relationships with others. There are many rich characters in this book, and they are cleverly revealed so that Clara’s first impressions are often altered.

The issues of World War One are covered lightly in the book, and it would be better as a supporting read, rather than a core text to drive a topic. As well as covering these issues, this book is also about respecting others and the importance of trying to see things from others point of view.

Children will enjoy the developing friendship of Clara and Will and how their characters evolve throughout the story. The air of mystery will keep readers engaged as there is more than one secret to uncover. I would recommend The Garden of Lost Secrets as a good book for the library for keen readers who enjoy being immersed in a world which is quite different from their own.

Fiona Thompson currently works as a Deputy Head in a York Primary school. She has taught in the primary sector for over 14 years and has worked across a number of authorities, teaching a range of year groups from years 1-6. She has recently worked as a literacy specialist to improve the teaching of literacy in the primary sector. Fiona loves books and is constantly looking for ways to promote reading for pleasure and purpose across all aspects of the curriculum.