I just discovered Sarah Rees Brennan's (sarahtales
) love declaration to children's books
, especially The Secret Garden
. I've always loved that book, and I've always known that I love it because of Mary, but I never really realized this:
I'm not saying that Mary is manly. She's not, and Colin isn't particularly feminine, though he may have been experimenting with the old mascara too much. (It was a long ten years in that one room waiting for Mary to get there, okay?) But Mary's filling a traditionally masculine role, and Colin's filling a traditionally feminine one. These roles don't have much to do with actual men and women: there's no reason why the boy shouldn't be the more imaginative and emotional one. Mary's chill about her mother dying. Mary doesn't fling herself at Dickon's mother and say she wishes Mrs Sowerby was her mum as well. Let us face it, if one of the characters is going to succumb to a fit of the vapors on the chaise longue, it ain't gonna be Mary.
So true. I am very much in love with the whole essay right now (it also features comparisons of TSG with Jane Eyre, a list of children's book clichés, gratuitious mentions of The Neverending Story
, Lord of the Rings
and Peter Pan
, and the suggestion that 'Dr. Jekyll can stop taking the potion and suggest that Mr Hyde, you know, date once in a while').
If you know and like The Secret Garden
, go read the essay. If you don't know The Secret Garden
, go read that, and then read the essay. If you don't like The Secret Garden
there might be something wrong with you
then read the essay, read the book again and reconsider.