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The Secret Sky Garden

Linda Sarah, illus. Fiona Lumbers
Simon & Schuster
Age 5-7

Every week Funni spends time at a disused airport car park where she watches planes take off, plays her recorder or flies her kite. After a while she realises something isn’t quite right and she sets about changing things. She clears rubbish away, brings in earth and plants seeds. Before long a beautiful, secret garden has grown. But Funni still feels something (or perhaps someone?) is missing. When a young boy who spots the secret garden from a plane, decides to visit Funni makes a friend. She finds it is much more fun to fly kites and play music with a companion than on her own.

This is a delightful story about creating beauty in unpromising places, building friendship and sharing experiences. It is beautifully written with lovely, detailed illustrations which really show the transformational effect of the secret garden on the environment and of making a friend on Funni.  Her wistful expression when she realises something is (definitely!) missing transforming to one of sheer joy when she has a friend to play with.

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Share the story

Read aloud
Before you start reading together talk about the cover and end papers and any clues to what the story will be about.

Read the story aloud pausing to talk about what is happening in the story or illustrations if your child wants to.

Join in
There are parts of the story that could be fun for children to join in with eg the repeated ‘definitely’ or Zoo’s comments eg ‘I must be dreaming’. Reading through with sound effects would be fun, for the whine of the plane or the bells of city square.

Talk about the story

  • Share favourite pages or lines

  • Talk about the things you like doing. Is it more fun to do these things on your own or with friends?

Divya and her daughter Larra enjoyed sharing The Secret Sky Garden by Linda Sarah and illustrated by Fiona Lumbers

‘Larra really enjoyed reading The Secret Sky Garden. Before we began to read she tried guessing what the book would be about; flowers being planted on clouds, a plane that was actually a garden and even a rooftop garden! She wasn’t wrong with her last guess which thrilled her more so. 

Larra had a lot of empathy for Funni the little girl in the story and said that everyone should have friends and not feel lonely.  

She immediately wanted to plant seeds in the garden and asked her Papa if they could plant on top of the log cabin so it could be closer to the sky. She wanted her own sky garden with sunflowers, roses, marigolds, lavender, lilies and even wanted a herb garden within it with lots of mint, coriander, rosemary and parsley! She said that if she managed to make it, she would invite her friends for a tea party under it so they could guess the wonderful smells whenever the wind blew.

The book was a wonderful opportunity to be imaginative and creative about a small piece of the world that you can call your own. Because summer was already upon us when we read the book, we were unable to plant seeds in time to bloom so she is adamant that we are going to sow flower seeds in spring next year for Larra’s secret sky garden 2020!

Thank you for sharing this touching book with us!’

Things to make and do

Listen to sounds around you
Spend some time out of doors or indoors and listen to the sounds around you. What did you hear? Can you find a way of making the sounds with instruments or household objects? You could try to create ‘a whole city of sounds’ and make a recording of them.

Make a secret garden
Fill an old baking tray with soil and plant some seeds. Look after it and watch it grow. If you have a garden you could use a section of it for this.

Paint a picture
Paint a picture of a colourful garden. Start with some shapes of buildings cut out of newspaper stuck on large sheet of paper. Then paint a colourful garden on top and all around it. You could also paint a picture inspired by a line in the story eg ‘greyer than a Monday sky’ or ‘bright like an emperor’s blanket.’

Find out more

Read another story by the same author
Explore our activities On Sudden Hill with Benji Davies

Read another story illustrated by Fiona Lumbers Lulu Loves Library Day written by Joseph Coelho

Make a mini garden
See here for inspiration