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02.05.2014
This post may contain spoilers and large images that may compromise slower internet connections.
Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel, The Secret Garden is a beautiful story of a temperamental central character, Mary Lennox, who fixes a family damaged by death, in spite of her own brokenness. As a designer, I also started to appreciate the how various elements of the story are communicated into a book’s design.
The above left cover design is a 2008 Puffin Classic relaunch of the novel, with the robin, part of the ivy that conceals the door to the garden, a keyhole, and part of Mary’s face.
Though the book creator produced only a thousand copies of this breath-taking (but sold out) limited edition, it would have made for a wonderful gift for fans of Burnett’s novel. Vibrant and full of detail, Terrazzini extracts basic elements from the plot, such as the robin, the key, and the floral elements that depict parts of the secret garden. In terms of typography, words have been given less influence than the graphics, allowing the reader to identify the book without having to read the title.
Fine Arts student Ola Pecko designed two gorgeous book cover designs for Burnett’s novel.
The above left cover design uses various flowers arranged to form the outline of a keyhole. A girl born into a wealth British household and spent her very early years living in India, Mary repatriates to England to be under the care of her uncle after being orphaned due to a cholera outbreak. I just wanted to point out that the beautiful books designed by Daniela Jalengka Terrazzini were not produced by Anthropologie, but were rather made by Puffin and sold at Anthropologie, as well as Barnes & Noble, on Amazon, and through other retailers.
The Lauren Child cover is absolutely stunning, but I think I’d be too afraid of ruining it to even touch it.
The clothbound Penguin editions are so delightful, but it doesn’t look like there are too many available in the US yet – bummer! When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle's great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of mysterious secrets.
The gardens surrounding the odd property are Mary's escape and she explores every inch of them—all except for the mysterious walled-in, locked garden.


I read both The Secret Garden and A Little Princess as a little girl and have read and re-read them throughout my life.
This is always the picture that comes to my mind whenever I think of the book My Secret Garden. Amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing story’!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And maybe while I am wishing, I will wish for a secret gardener as well to help me take care of it. Having grown up in a household where the love for reading is heavily patronised, it is one of the first classics I read independently as a child. Book covers visually divulge pockets of the plot to the reader, and it is not uncommon for various editions of the same book to have certain elements carry through in their cover designs.
The above right cover design is drawn by eight-year-old Emma Brink-Morrison, the winner of the Vintage Classics competition to draw cover art to mark the relaunch of a large list of Vintage Classics novels. English illustrator and author Lauren Child indulges in incredible amounts of layered detail when crafting this masterpiece of a book design.
In order to feel the element of secrecy in the story, the reader can peel back each cover layer one by one until the base cover reveals Mary and the secret garden.
An additional element would be the bees flying nearby some of the floral elements, a possible connection with the the presence of vegetation. Both designs look like something characteristic of a Penguin-published books, and look a little similar upon first glance. It is somewhat symmetrical, as evidenced by the light grey banner placed above the central piece. While the film adaptation makes adjustments so that the deaths of her parents are attributed to an earthquake, both versions include a glimpse into the process of her repatriation. Like the draping ivy over the door to the garden to the garden itself, she reaches out to others who are broken, gradually opening the layers to their identities. I actually am also interested in the various editions of The Secret Garden, and I have collected several.


Even the Penguin paperbacks are lovely; the second one, where the figure is just barely in the frame, is so strange and eye-catching. Views expressed herein are my own, and do not reflect the views of the institution of which I am associated.
There are nearly one hundred rooms, most of which are locked, and the house is filled with creepy old portraits and suits of armor. Using the method of using cloth for book binding, six classics were re-hashed at Terrazzini’s hands, one of them being The Secret Garden. The linework is a refreshing contrast to other designs, which tend to take on a softer aesthetic direction. As an adult third cultured kid, her process of having to adjust to a culture other than the one she is most attached, struck a chord with me. Instead of condemning them to the wintery cold of their predicaments, she cultivates their potential. It was right around the time when the 2008 Puffin Classics were released, so the copy I currently own is the 2008 Puffin Classic.
Mary rarely sees her uncle, and perhaps most unsettling of all is that at night she hears the sound of someone crying down one of the long corridors.
As an adult, the emotional components of the plot became more poignant, and I found myself being able to identify with Mary. The key to the garden, which is one of the central elements of the book, is strategically placed the centre. It is definitely more vague and commits less to the common literary elements that have graced the covers of the older editions.
However, both the film and the original transcript are loyal to the main character, Mary Lennox.




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