The Secret Garden Part One – Maud Begon (Adapter)

Translators – Joseph Laredo & Maud Begon

I can’t help myself. You produce an adaptation of The Secret Garden, one of my favourite childhood books and movies, and I’ll be there for it. Even though this is only Part One, I had to read this graphic novel.

Mostly staying true to the story I know and love but also taking a bit of license here and there, this is the adaptation where cholera isn’t the distant concern it was to me as a child. No, this cholera is personified and sending out some creepy vibes.


Mistress Mary, quite contrary gave me an unintended giggle when she sconed herself on a table. [For those of you who don’t live in Australia, to scone yourself is to hit your head. I don’t know if people still say this but it was a phrase from my childhood and as you can probably guess, having the opportunity to relive a childhood favourite has had the effect of regressing me just a tad.] I remember running under my Nan’s dining room table, not realising I’d grown since the last time I’d done it and sconed myself. Good times.


I loved Mary’s death stare but didn’t love her saying to Mrs Medlock, “I have no interest in your old crap”. We’re still in 1910 here and no matter how surly Mary is, I’m certain that word is not part of her vocabulary.


The colour palette changes with the seasons and, of course, Mary’s mood. Mary gets pretty chipper a lot earlier in the story than I remember and her loneliness and isolation are less pointed here. 


It was frustrating finishing this story partway through and, given this graphic novel was less than 100 pages, I wondered why it had to be split in two in the first place. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the garden looks like in full bloom so will be continuing this blast from my past.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Europe Comics for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When Mary’s parents die, she moves to England, where she is sent to a strange mansion in the middle of the Yorkshire moors, belonging to her uncle. It is here that she discovers the comfort of friendship … and a wonderful secret that she soon shares with her new companions: a garden forgotten by everyone, whose key, as if by magic, also opens the doors to broken hearts. This is a two-part graphic adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1912 classic of children’s literature.

FRNK #1: The Beginning Begins – Olivier Bocquet

Illustrations – Brice Cossu

Ths cmc bk bcm qt hrd t rd n sm sctns!

Did you get that?

After being exchanged by three previous families Frank is due for an appointment with a fourth potential family, Mr and Mrs Fugly (I kid you not! 😆). He “drops in” to the meeting with the director of the orphanage, who accidentally admits she doesn’t know what happened to his parents. Deciding to run away (again!) Frank is caught by the gardener who tells Frank the truth, that he found Frank when he was about a year old. The gardener shows Frank a map of where he found him then sends him on his way.

After a journey on foot to find his parents, complete with some pretty funny falls, directionally challenged Frank finds himself sucked through a portal of sorts and winds up in prehistoric times. There is no phone service, no internet and apparently vowels haven’t been invented yet, so the locals tlk lk ths (talk like this). It does take a bit to get used to the way they talk and because of this, FRNK may not be the best comic book for reluctant readers. There’s one swear word in this book but your kid most likely already knows it anyway and its use is really funny.

This is the first comic in a series of three so there’s the inevitable ending just when you’re really getting into it. I’ve read this comic book twice now. The first time I was so frustrated by the lack of vowels in the prehistoric world that it took my attention away from the story. Having said that, after a break and coming into it knowing about the vowel situation, I really enjoyed reading this the second time.

There’s a fair amount of humour I missed the first time around and this time I really focused on the awesome job Brice Cossu has done with the illustrations. The expressions in both present and past add to the humour of the text and the details in the landscape, plants and animals are wonderful.

The vowel situation will be off putting for some readers, although it’s only for a portion of the book. If you can get past this, you’ll find a series that has a lot of potential. Besides the humour and time travel, there’s action and fight scenes, along with the mysteries of where Frank’s parents are (if they’re still alive) and whether Frank will go home in the end. I suspect he may find home in prehistoric times but I haven’t read past the first comic so that’s only my gut feeling.

What this comic proves to me is that if you’re not entirely sure what you think of a story it’s completely fine to cleanse your reading palate with other books before you attempt a reread. Had I reviewed this book straight after I read it for the first time you’d be reading a very different review. I’m definitely interested in getting my hands on the rest of this series.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Europe Comics for the opportunity to read this comic.

P.S. That first sentence? If you didn’t get it, it reads “This comic book became quite hard to read in some sections!”, but I’m sure you already knew that! 😜

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When a 13-year-old orphan sets out to find his parents and ends up in prehistoric times, he realises he’s got a lot of work to do: so many things haven’t been invented yet, like fire, soap … and vowels! Not to mention all the terrifying creatures and knuckledragging cavemen he has to deal with!