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Tom's Midnight Garden - Philippa Pearce

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Genre: Junior Books / Author: Philippa Pearce / Paperback / 240 Pages / Book is published 2008-01-03 by OUP Oxford

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      06.02.2011 02:06
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      Classic Childrens Story

      A heart warming tale of one little boy and his secret garden that takes him back in time. Written by Phillipa Pearce and first published in 1958 Tom's Midnight Garden has gone on to become a well respected and highly adored children's classic. Beautifully written and perfectly enjoyable for children and adults.

      The story:
      Essentially a ghost story but not in "spooky sense" that we would normally associate. Tom is sent to his aunt and uncles house when his older brother Peter contracts measels. They live in an apartment of a very old house that has been converted into flats. Tom prepares himself for a fortnight of boredom under the strict eye of his uncle Alan. With no other children to play and with no garden (just a scruffy small backyard that adjoins the house) Tom soon becomes restless and a chance chime of a grandfather clock transports Tom's boring stay with his aunt and uncle to a magical world of adventure.

      Wide awake Tom decides to investigate the public quaters of the main house when he hears an old grandfather clock (owned by an elderly lady who resides in the apartment above) strike thirteen! Curiosity leads Tom to the back door and out into the backyard which has now mysteriously transformed into a wonderful garden. It is through his adventures in the garden that Tom befriends Hatty (who believes Tom to be a ghost as she is the only person in the garden that can actually see him) also lonely and bored but with an insatiable appetite for adventure, like Tom.

      The story takes Tom and Hatty on various adventures in the garden and the surrounding countryside and land of Castleford but theres a twist. Tom can only access the garden after the grandfather clock has struck thirteen (other than that it remains a backyard) and once the clock has struck the house also mysteriously transforms forms back to a beautiful house, a house where little Hatty lives!

      Time behaves oddly in the garden during Tom's nightly excursions as it appears to leap forward and then back into time so one night Hatty is a little girl and the next she is a teenager. One night the season is summer and the next it is deep winter. Hours spent in the garden can relatew to only minutes in Tom's real world!

      Time draws the two friends together and many years pass in the garden and on each subsequent visit Tom appear less and less clear to Hatty and Hatty to Tom. Who lives in the "real" world as we know it? How do two separate periods in history bring Tom and Hatty together and then pull them apart again? How does the backyard transform to a beautiful garden? Who is Mrs Bartholomew and how does her antique grandfather clock give passage for these mysterious things to happen? All these questions are answered in this beautiful book so I will not give away any clues to the ending here!

      My Opinion:
      Beautifully written with a wonderful plot with a twist at the end. This is a book to be enjoyed by adults as well as children. A book that I dont get bored reading to my own children. A book that somehow manages to transport me into the garden with Tom and Hatty.
      Its a warm and charming piece of childrens fiction without the standard and sometimes patronising tones that can often be incorporated into childrens books. Phillipa Pearce has managed to provide a safe and comforting book that easily draws the reader into the garden with Tom and Hatty. Every chapter poses a new question to be answered and leaves the reader wandering at the hows and whys of the magical adventure. Its uplifting with an ending that is as emotionally charged as any Hollywood blockbuster. Its a book that should adorn any childs bookcase without failure or every adults bedside table without being embarassment!

      The book provides enough drama and adventure to keep children amused and enough mysetery and suspense to intrigue and adult. Some areas of text seem a tad dated (mainly termanology) but the general writing and story are, fifty odd years after first being published, timeless.

      Other Information:
      Toms Midnight Garden has been nominated for numerous awards and won the prestigious Carnegie Medal. Dramatised for the bbc in 1968, 1974 and 1988 and made into a feature length film in 1999 and then adapted into a play in 2001.

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