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Planting a refuge from strife

Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel, the "secret garden" symbolises hope, new beginnings, and a place where children can grow into their true selves.

Paul May gives this classic theme a sharp contemporary twist in Green Fingers (Corgi Yearling pound;4.99), the story of Kate, a disaffected child whose parents move to the countryside in a final effort to save their marriage.

Kate is dyslexic, unhappy at school and prone to violent outbursts. She finds surprising solace in the neglected garden adjacent to their crumbling farmhouse and decides to restore it to its former splendour.

Learning about the plants that once thrived there motivates Kate to overcome her difficulties with reading and writing and to control her temper and frustration, and her love of the garden's beauty carries her through the continuing bitterness between her parents.

This is a beautifully composed, uplifting, bittersweet story for readers aged nine and above.

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