Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

"Mummy? You haven't said anything for a really long time". This is an unusual state of affairs, especially when reading bedtime stories. However, I had just read A the first chapter of Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, and could not resist re-reading the final chapter - the one with the reconciliation, which is one of my favourite passages from any book, ever.

A has taken the book to bed. She found the first chapter "OK", but I was quite vociferous in my praise for the book - it being my second favourite children's book of all time, after Goodnight Mister Tom. It remains to be seen whether Tom's Midnight Garden will suffer the same fate as Little House on the Prairie did with A, or The Secret Garden did with me.

I have to admit something which shames me deeply here - I watched the TV series of this before I read the book. Had I read the book first, I would have preferred it, but my love for the book was born of the 1989 BBC adaptation, which I thought was brilliant - atmospheric, touching and with perfect characterisation.

This is not as shameful as my admission about Moondial by Helen Cresswell. I watched that on TV first too, and then didn't even like the book when I eventually read it!

Both of these books have time travel as a theme, which was something I greatly enjoyed as a child. I had an exceptionally happy childhood, but also an extremely vivid imagination. This, coupled with the fact that I lived in a house built within a copse in the New Forest, full of very ancient trees, made me feel that this time travel might just be possible. I think I had visions of waking up one morning and being in The Children of the New Forest. Surprisingly, this never actually happened.

If A does seem taken with this book I have others to recommend - particularly The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively and A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley. This last one will be of especial interest to A, since we live in South Derbyshire, in a village where there is a house where Mary, Queen of Scots is said to have rested on her journey to Tutbury Castle. I will have to take steps to ensure that A does not break into said house, to see if she can go back in time...

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