The illustrations for this series were created by Scott McKowen, who, with his wife Christina Poddubiuk, operates Punch & Judy Inc., a company specializing in design and illustration for theater and performing arts. Their projects often involve research into the visual aspects of historical settings and characters. Christina is a theater set and costume designer and contributed advice on the period clothing for the illustrations.
Scott created these drawings in scratchboard an engraving medium which evokes the look of popular art from the period of these stories. Scratchboard is an illustration board with a specifically prepared surface of hard white chalk. A thin layer of black ink is rolled over the surface, and lines are drawn by hand with a sharp knife by scraping through the ink layer to expose the white surface underneath. The finished drawings are then scanned and the color is added digitally.
Born in India, the unattractive and willful Mary Lennox has remained in the care of servants for as long as she can remember. But the girl’s life changes when her mother and father die and she travels to Yorkshire to live with her uncle. Dark, dreary Misselthwaite Manor seems full of mysteries, including a very special garden, locked tight for 10 years. With the help of Dickon, a local boy, Mary intends to uncover its secrets.
Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; "It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together.... 'No wonder it is still,' Mary whispered. 'I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'" As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin's sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden's portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived. (Ages 9 to 12)