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Back to the Secret Garden Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

Charming magical realism sequel set in 1940s England.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Back to the Secret Garden is a sequel to the 1993 film The Secret Garden and is a charming tale of mystery and magical realism set in 1946 Yorkshire, England. The kids in the school occasionally get into brief shouting and shoving matches as they try to figure out why the school's secret garden is dying, and how it can be brought back to life. But on the whole, the kids remain quite prim and proper as they come of age. The headmistress, Martha Sowerby, is a tough but fair authority figure, and a welcome contrast to the two-dimensional authority figures often portrayed in kids' movies.

  • Families can talk about the time and place in which this movie is set. What objects inform the viewer that it's set in the 1940s? How is the culture of the movie different from today?
  • How do boys and girls act with each other in this movie? How is this movie similar and different from other coming of age movies?
  • What are the movie's messages? Why do you think the creators brought magic into the story?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true1

    Educational value: More for entertainment than education, but kids might learn a bit about England in the 1940s. Also, kids might be interested in reading the Secret Garden books after watching the movies.

  • message true2

    Messages: Some good messages about the importance of loving and caring for people and things (like gardens), and how a lack of attention can cause things to falter.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Lizzie Buscana devotes her free time to cultivating flower gardens. She does her best to make sure the flowers stay alive, and loves the creatures who frolic in the secret garden. As a headmistress of a boarding school, Martha Sowerby is strict but fair to her students, even when they get into trouble.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence and scariness: A fire breaks out on the bed of one of the students in the boarding school, but it is quickly put out. A boy is shoved into a fountain when a girl thinks he stole a key that opens the door to the secret garden. A boy is shoved from his chair by a girl after the boy calls her names.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Not applicable

  • language false1

    Language: Some name-calling and disrespect, like calling a teacher a "sow," or when a boy calls Lizzie "American" in a derogatory way.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A student of an English boarding school asks a girl newly arrived from America if she brought cigarettes, because she says they could make money selling the cigarettes in the nearby village.