Blog Tour Review: The Secret Garden on 81st Street: A Modern Graphic Retelling of the Secret Garden

Title: The Secret Garden on 81st Street: A Modern Graphic Retelling of The Secret Garden
Author: Ivy Noelle Weir, Amber Padilla (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Contemporary
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 19, 2021
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

The Secret Garden with a twist: in this follow-up to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, this full-color graphic novel moves Mary Lennox to a New York City brownstone, where she and her very first group of friends restore an abandoned rooftop garden…and her uncle’s heart.

Mary Lennox is a loner living in Silicon Valley. With her parents always working, video game and tech become her main source of entertainment and “friends.” When her parents pass away in a tragic accident, she moves to New York City to live with her uncle who she barely knows, and to her surprise, keeps a gadget free home. Looking for comfort in this strange, new reality, Mary discovers an abandoned rooftop garden and an even bigger secret…her cousin who suffers from anxiety. With the help of her new friends, Colin and Dickon, Mary works to restore the garden to its former glory while also learning to grieve, build real friendships, and grow.


After her parents died suddenly in a car accident, Mary Lennox moved to New York to live at her uncle’s home. Her uncle has traveled constantly for work since his husband died, so Mary is left with his housekeeper and neighbour. While she’s exploring the house, Mary discovers a hidden garden that used to be tended to by her uncle’s husband. She also finds her uncle’s son, Colin, who is kept away in his room because he suffers from anxiety and panic disorder. Along with her other new friend Dickon, Mary helps rebuild the garden and learn how to grieve.

I haven’t read The Secret Garden since I was a kid, so I don’t remember the story very well. I’m sure a lot was changed in this adaptation to make it modern. Mary came from a high tech home in Silicon Valley, and she had to get used to life in New York. One thing I didn’t understand was why she didn’t start school right away since she moved there in the winter. Her uncle mentioned her starting school in the fall, and once Mary said something about online school, but it was strange that she would have been out of school for so long.

I appreciated the representation of anxiety and panic disorder in this book. Colin was kept away from the rest of the house because he was so anxious. The anxiety started after his father died. It was difficult for others to understand his feelings at first, because the doctors said there wasn’t anything physically wrong with him, though he felt pain in his chest when he experienced anxiety. Luckily, Mary figured out a way to help Colin manage his anxiety and live a fuller life.

The Secret Garden on 81st Street is a great, modern adaptation.

Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero, Bre Indigo (illustrations)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

About the author:

LIvy Noelle Weir is a writer of comics and prose. She is the co-creator of the Dwayne McDuffie Award-winning graphic novel Archival Quality (Oni Press), the upcoming The Secret Garden on 81st Street (Little, Brown for Young Readers), and her writing has appeared in anthologies such as Princeless: Girls Rock (Action Lab Entertainment) and Dead Beats (A Wave Blue World). She lives in the greater Boston area with her husband and their two tiny, weird dogs.

Purchase links:

Tour schedule:

Have you read The Secret Garden on 81st Street? What did you think of it?

Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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