Rainbow Garden was given to me, as a child, and was one of my favourite books so revisiting it, with my children has been a pleasure. You can see, from the photo, that this is a loved book!
The story is of Elaine, an lonely, rather spoiled only child, being sent to the country as her mother takes a job in France. The family with whom Elaine will live are a noisy big family living in a cold vicarage with their minster father and busy mother. Wales in January isn't quite the beautiful countryside that Elaine expects and a large, boisterous family is rather unpleasant to a child who is used to quiet and her own way. In her culture shock, Elaine takes refuge in a deserted garden but the refuge turns sour as Elaine removes a shell from the unoccupied house to boost her standing with the other children.
Elaine is brought to confront her guilt and to the Lord for true forgiveness. The story doesn't end there: Elaine has to learn how to live as a Christian through happiness and challenges. A mystery is solved, a new friend made and there is a major decision.
I had thought that my eight year old would enjoy this book but my six year old has also been captivated by this book and I'm only allowed to read it when they are both together.
The book was published in 1960 but the book doesn't come across as dated probably because the major themes are either eternal or related to relationships and the countryside. There are one or two ends which don't quite tie up such as honeysuckle in early spring and a timing which didn't seem quite right. The children haven't noticed and this is only something that I have seen reading this as an adult.
There are some parallels with Secret Garden which my eight year old noted. However, the books are quite dissimilar in other ways and Rainbow Garden has a Christian message absent from the older book.
Recommended as a family read aloud or for middle childhood independent readers.