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The Locked Garden Hardcover – June 2, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060790946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060790943
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,258,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6–Verna and her sister Carlie are still dealing with the death of their mother and the arrival of her harsh and dour sister, Aunt Maude, when their father accepts a position as a staff doctor at a hospital for the mentally ill. When he brings Eleanor, a young patient recovering from depression, into the home to help with the chores, Aunt Maude sees her as a threat while the girls welcome her with joy. Though Maude and Eleanor's father bring condemnation and pain into Eleanor's life, the children, their father, and the hospital administrator reach out to her with acceptance and love. The story explores the prejudice that shadowed the lives of the mentally ill at the turn of the century as well as what it means to be normal. As Verna stands up for what she thinks is right while trying out questionable means to attain her goals, the author allows readers to experience the development of her maturity and character. At the conclusion of the story, readers see a real girl who has not learned all of life's lessons and has not made all the right choices but is still in the process of learning and growing. A thoroughly enjoyable read.–Debra Banna, Sharon Public Library, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

When her father, a well-known psychiatrist, accepts a position at a remote asylum in northern Michigan, Verna is reluctant to leave their home, which holds happy memories of her mother, who died two years earlier in 1898. Once settled into their cozy new house on the asylum grounds, though, Verna and her younger sister welcome their new life, particularly after the arrival of their young maid, Eleanor. Although she is a melancholia patient, Eleanor brings a warmth that contrasts sharply with the girls’ guardian, Aunt Maude, who can be “as menacing as a hornet’s nest.” Tensions rise as Aunt Maude grows furiously jealous of the affection Eleanor shares with the girls, who, in turn, plot to send Maude packing. Descriptions of the sprawling, grand asylum and its mysteriously locked wings may lead readers to suppose that they’ve begun a gothic novel. They’ll quickly realize, though, that the evocative setting is a backdrop to the sensitive, sometimes comedic family story filled with character lessons for Verna and compassionate questions about mental illness and its treatment. Grades 3-6. --Gillian Engberg

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Herman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The year is 1900. Two years after the death of their mother, twelve-year-old Verna Martin and her six-year-old sister, Carlie, leave their home in the city. They are moving with their father, a psychiatrist, to an asylum in the countryside that is testing out new ideas for the treatment of the mentally ill. Their strict Aunt Maude, who has cared for them since their mother's death, accompanies them.

Much to Verna's surprise, the asylum is a lovely place, with trees, flowers, and animals. And the patients aren't scary at all. One patient is Eleanor, a young woman who, thanks to the care and peaceful setting of the asylum, has improved enough to work. She comes to work at their house, to cook, clean, and help care for the sisters. Verna and Carlie become very close to Eleanor, and this causes Aunt Maude to become very jealous, which results in terrible consequences for Eleanor's health, leaving Verna to try and fix the situation.

The Locked Garden is a very interesting historical novel for young readers about a topic not much explored in children's fiction - the beginnings of modern mental health treatment. This book is both an interesting look at the subject as well as a touching story about family and friendship. I recommend it to young readers who like historical fiction as well as those readers who have enjoyed other books by the author.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hilarie on June 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Locked Garden is set in the year 1900, and is primarily the story of two sisters: Verna, age 12, and Carlie, age 6. After the recent death of their mother, the girls move with their father, who is a physician, to a new home located on the grounds of an insane asylum where he will be given the opportunity to test his theories of treating mental illness with medication. Joining the family in their journey is Aunt Maude, their maternal aunt, who seems determined to constantly remind the children and their father of the recent loss they have suffered in an effort to keep the memory of her sister alive. Shortly after starting life in their new home, their father hires a young patient, Eleanor, to assist in the care of Verna and Carlie. Eleanor's arrival changes everything, and soon Verna and Carlie find themselves at odds with both their father and their aunt as they try to ensure that Eleanor will remain one of the family.

This was an enjoyable read, which at times reminded me of Sarah, Plain and Tall. I found the understanding and treatment of mental illness at the time of the novel to be especially interesting. The book certainly didn't feel like a history lesson, but I felt that I learned a lot during the course of my reading. This book would be a perfect introduction to helping children have an understanding of the concepts of mental illness and depression. I can picture myself someday reading it to my own children when they are older so that we can have a discussion about what mental illness is, and how such illnesses are treated today versus in the past. The book also deals with death and grieving, although this is certainly a minor focus of the book. I am mentioning it because I really appreciated Whelan's handling of this topic.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I live in Traverse City and I am familiar with area described by the author. It is an amazing place with fine dining, wonderful shops, bakeries, cheesecakes and soon to be botanical gardens. If you have never been to Traverse City make it a sure stop on your next vacation. One of the building which housed some of the patients will not be turned into Senior Living and the information about this housing is more than appealing, it will be more than you could expect.
Sis Leake
sisleake@charter.net
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Format: Hardcover
3.5 stars

This book was really interesting. I liked it a lot. It seemed like the majority of the people who didn't like this book didn't like it because the title was misleading; so, knowing that it was, I was able to enjoy the story a lot more. However, there were a few things that made it not quite 4 stars worthy. I'll get to those in a minute.

First off, what I enjoyed about the book: Eleanor. Her backstory, her personality, her battle with depression, and her relationship with Aunt Maude. It was the best part about the whole story. She tried so hard for Aunt Maude to like her, and I thought that was really sweet. I could not STAND Aunt Maude; she was so mean! Now, back to Eleanor. What I really liked was how the author showed you her family and gave insight as to what made Eleanor finally break. It was so sad, but so good at the same time!

And, did I sense a teeny bit of romance between Verna's dad and Eleanor? Just a teensy weensy bit? I think so!

Sadly, it is time for the negatives now...
THE ENDING. What the heck? It just ended. It wasn't even a real ending. Maybe I'm just too used to happily ever afters, but this seemed like there was no resolution at all. None whatsoever.

Also, I really didn't like Verna as much as I would have liked to. It seems like Eleanor is really the character that you are supposed to get attached to, and Verna is just the means of telling the story. That may have just been me, but it was still a bit of a problem.

All in all, it was a really good story. It has a unique feel to it that I haven't read in very many Juvenile books. I liked this one a lot.
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