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The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories (Virago Modern Classics) Paperback – 6 Aug 2015
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What a thrill to discover this gem from the witty and endlessly inventive Joan Aiken (Chris Riddell)
Joan Aiken's invention seemed inexhaustible, her high spirits a blessing, her sheer storytelling zest a phenomenon. She was a literary treasure, and her books will continue to delight for many years to come (Philip Pullman)
She was a consummate story-teller, one that each generation discovers anew (Amanda Craig The Times)
A writer of wild humour and unrestrained imagination (Oxford Companion to Children's Literature)
A delightful whimsical set of stories about young Mark and Harriet Armitage and the fantastical things that just happen to them, where if the lawn is full of unicorns you can count on their father to rush out and try to stop them eating the roses. These stories are funny and often unexpectedly poignant. They also don't have a wasted word or scrap of information. They're both charming and genuine in a way that few things manage (Jo Walton)
Inexhaustibly imaginative, Aiken was one of the twentieth century's greatest children's authors. Witty, zany and entirely sane, this is a necklace of diamonds (Amanda Craig New Statesman)
Often bonkers stories, always written with cut-glass precision . . . Aiken is a superb storyteller (The Times)
A delightful summary of one side of Aiken's talent: whimsical, funny, a series of brilliantly imaginative ideas stitched together with dream logic... It is the mixture of irrepressible gaiety and invention with the tragic that makes Aiken one of the great children's authors...impossible to calculate the number of people who have enjoyed her books - who have had some magic injected into the mundane (Sunday telegraph)
Joan Aiken is a superb storyteller who refusal to skimp on sophisticated language, and the Armitage parents' droll indifference, is guaranteed to give children and parents a Ready Brek glow (The Times, Children's Book of the Week)
Joan Aiken, classic author of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, wrote the Armitage family stories all throughout her life - from when she was a teenager onwards. This is the first time the stories have been collected together in our market.See all Product description
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There are some gems here: the Serial Garden, the Apple of Trouble, Mrs Nutti's fireplace. Others have only the slightest premise. In one, Harriet's Birthday Present, we never find out what the ends. None of this matters: it is the delight of reading which oozes from every page which is the point of this collection.
I wanted to study Joan Aiken in my final week of my 20th century term at college, but my tutor (whom I adored, and still do) said that Aiken was only a 'minor figure'. She was probably right, and I was put onto the darker fare of Catherine Storr and Philippa Pearce. Pulling the stories to pieces would have only ruined them for me. As it is, I can return to childhood unblemished.
As a way to read Armitage from cover to cover, this is great. However, divorced from the utter magic of the other stories in A Harp of Fishbones and A Small Pinch of Weather, All You Ever Wanted and More Than You Bargained For, they can come across as slighter than they actually are. I shall probably have to repurchase all those books: my Puffin copies fell to pieces years ago.
Delight, from cover to cover.
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