Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Tom's Midnight Garden

Tom's Midnight Garden

Philippa Pearce
Illustrator:  Susan Einzig 
Fiction
For ages 8 to 12
HarperCollins, 1992   ISBN: 0064404455

Tom is thoroughly annoyed. His summer plans have been completely ruined and now, instead of being able to spend his time playing with his brother in their garden, he has to go to his aunt's house. Worse still he has to be quarantined and won't be able to leave his aunt and uncle's boring apartment. The reason for this whole mess is that his brother has got the measles and Tom has to go away for a few weeks until he is all better and the threat of infection is passed.

Unfortunately for Tom his aunt and uncle don't know much about children and don't even have a garden that he can play in. The weeks promise to be dismal ones. At least they do until Tom discovers something very odd indeed. One night, Tom goes to investigate the grandfather clock because it has just chimed thirteen times. He discovers that there is a garden around the house after all. The puzzling thing is that the garden is only there at night. Not only that, but there is a little girl who likes to play in the garden, Hatty, who quickly becomes Tom's friend. To make things even more mysterious, it would appear that Hatty is the only person in the nighttime garden who can see Tom.

Tom grows to love the garden and the world that he visits at night. He figures out that he seems to be going back in time, about sixty or seventy years or so. Every night he goes back to Hatty's time, and when he arrives he can never be sure whether it will be spring or summer, or whether Hatty will be very young or older. Tom grows to love his nighttime world so much that he does not want to leave it. Can he find a way to remain in Hatty's time and also have a life in his own as well?

This timeless story is a beautifully written combination of fantasy and adventure, and once started it is very hard to put down. The book won the prestigious Carnegie Medal in 1958.


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