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Oxford Bookworms Library: Stage 3: Moondial: 1000 Headwords (Oxford Bookworms ELT) Paperback – 3 Jan 2008

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Oxford Bookworms Library: Stage 3: Moondial: 1000 Headwords (Oxford Bookworms ELT) + Tom's Midnight Garden
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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (3 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0194791238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0194791236
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 0.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 518,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By herecomesthesun on 29 April 2011
I actually can't remember which came first - did I read the book then see the TV series or vice versa? It doesn't matter in this case, because - very rarely - the TV series was as good as the book.

Minty goes to spend some time with a relative while her mother is in the hospital. She becomes fascinated with a nearby large country house and its gardens (and the ghosts that live in it).

One of my favourite books growing up, Moondial has a likeable and believable main character and the writing is superlative - interesting and great for children, without being patronising. Thoroughly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Light and Shadow by Turns, But Always Love..." 26 Aug. 2011
By R. M. Fisher - Published on
Araminta Cane (or 'Minty' for short) has always had a sixth sense, but it is not until she is sent to Belton House to spend the summer with her elderly aunt that she gets the chance to really use it. With her father already deceased and her mother in a coma after a car-crash, Minty finds solace in exploring the house and grounds of Belton House. There she meets an elderly groundskeeper who takes one look at her and declares:

"The minute I set eyes on you, I knew. That's her, I thought. That's the one to turn the key! To set `em free! Those children! The ones I've known about sixty years and more. Only in snatches, mind. Only glimpses, and voices crying."

Sure enough, Minty hears them too, as well as feeling a strange chill over a certain gravestone in the nearby cemetery. They are all clues, but to what mystery, she doesn't know yet. It isn't until she discovers a strange sundial in the extensive grounds of Belton House that the adventure really begins. Instinctively calling it a 'moondial', Minty is intrigued by its stone depiction of an old man and a young boy struggling for possession of the dial. Soon she has unlocked its magical properties, and is catapulted back in time to meet with a young boot-boy called Tom.

Tom is as surprised to see her as she is to see him, but as she explores the past of Belton House, both are acutely aware that they are not the only ones who know about the moondial. There is a third child, living even deeper in the past that desperately needs both their help.

Somehow Minty knows that the strange occurrences are all connected - not only her friendship with Tom and her mother's comatose state, but also the appearance of a sinister ghost-hunter at her aunt's house and the plight of the little girl who is called "devil's child" by those living in the distant past.

Highly reminiscent of Tom's Midnight Garden, this is an old classic that has sadly seemed to have faded away into obscurity. Helen Cresswell writes with an incredible amount of sensitivity when it comes to her main character. Minty is a fully-realized girl with a distinct personality and manner, grounding the fantastic elements of the story with her own introspection and imagination. With the shadow of her injured mother hanging over her, Minty delves into the mystery both as an escape and a response to her mother's condition, figuring out the rules of how the moondial can enable her to time-travel and taking action against the problems that it leads her to.

The story itself is suspenseful and intriguing, with plenty of spooky moments that take place in the middle of the night, and a rather bittersweet ending - but then all time-travelling stories are inevitably a little bittersweet. Although a few mysteries are left unsolved by the end of the story (we never learn what Miss Raven's deal was) it is still a memorable read.

"Moondial" was conceived simultaneously as both a novel and a television drama, both of which were written by Cresswell. First broadcast in 1988, Moondial was filmed at the real Belton House (of Lincolnshire, England) which was incidentally also used as Rosing's Park in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice miniseries. The television show is easy enough to find on YouTube, though some might find it a bit dated by today's standards.

If buying, just beware that you're getting the full text and not the abridged version. For the longest time I only had a copy of the abridged version, and although I liked the story, I couldn't help but wish that such an intriguing premise had been more fleshed out. Only years later did I realize that a longer version existed, and needless to say, it is a vast improvement. The version with the green cover as part of the Oxford Bookworms collection is NOT the one you want.
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