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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 23 December 2012
First published in 1958 this is the consummate time travelling book, paving the way for the likes of Dr Who first seen just a few years later and all that followed right up to the recent 'The Time Travellers Wife' which is inadvertently a grown up take on Philippa Pearce's classic. Tom's travel back in time from present day Britain (although actually the 50's it's not identifiable as such) to a Victorian Britain is also a delightful introduction to bygone eras and period literature. Essentially the story is a collection of adventures had by an ordinary young boy sent to a relative while overcoming illness and an orphaned Victorian girl Hatty in the garden of her relatives extensive Victorian country estate. While Tom believes he visits every night, For Hatty the visits can be weeks, months or even years apart. When we first meet Hatty she is very young, a good couple of years younger than Tom and with each visit we see she is getting a little older.

There is a reason this book is still in print and it's because this book is the best children's book ever written. The fun adventures of the two protagonists provide timeless amusement, the mystery behind how or why Tom seems to travel through time provides suspenseful intrigue and the overarching story of Tom and Hatty's developing friendship and how it helps them cope with their respective difficult childhoods is moving beyond belief. Don't for one second think this is a girls book, boys too will love this story, Tom travels in time and gets up to all sorts of mischief -what's not to love? It is a book that's text heavy with only a few black&white illustrations so best for a confident reader aged 7+ but it works beautifully as a read-aloud story with perhaps a chapter a night before bed so no child need miss-out on this beautiful tale.

I read this book as a child, some 30years after it's initial publication, and it stuck with me. Nothing else has made me appreciate how fleeting our lives actually, how important other people are in our to us or how we are all basically the same regardless of what generation, class or culture you come from. I revisited this 54 year old book recently and it has lost none of it's charm. I ended the book in tears of happy sadness just like I did as a child. If I had the money I would happily buy this book for every child in the UK, all 14 million of them because I believe this book is an essential element of childhood.

Can you tell I quite like this book? :-)
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on 22 January 2008
A beautiful and tradtional story of magic, freindship & growing up. Adored by my children, loved by me.
Every school shelf should be stocked with this classic and every home shelf too.
When the trend for books is to 'gross out' young readers, this story reminds us that there is and always will be space for beautifully written well told enchanting stories.
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on 8 August 2014
What an amazing book. I remember loving it as a child and so bought it to read to my 8 year old son at bedtime. We couldn't put it down and loved every minute of the exciting and beautifully written story. It will live in my memory as a wonderful shared experience with my son, especially moments where we snuck off to read extra chapters in the day! We both cried towards the end and I would list it in my top ten books, beating many of my favourite adult books. I can't recommend it enough to read to a child and loved the simplicity of the time described, when a boy is desperate to play in a garden, particulrly as our lives are so filled with computer and television screens today.
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on 1 November 2010
I am 10 and my Mum bought me this book.
It is very interesting, and each page makes me want to read more. I read a chapter every night before I sleep. When I lie down then I imagine myself exploring the Midnight Garden. I think other kids would like this book too.
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on 7 January 2010
I didn't read this book as a youngster but remembered seeing the 70s tv version. I didn't really know what to expect, but as I enjoy reading classic children's literature I thought I'd get it.

It really is an incredible book and throughly deserves all the accolades that have been heaped upon it. I found the quality of the writing to be taut and extremely controlled, the author knows exactly how to conjure scenes for full impact. One of the best things about this book are the numerous small vignettes and mini adventures in the garden: the bow and arrows; the bible; the geese; the named trees- one really lives the experiences with Tom and Hatty.
The standout moments are at the end of the book. The moonlit ice skating as they journey back on the frozen fen river was so haunting and vivid, the scene will stay with me; the shadowy meeting with Barty and then forwards to the incredibly moving moment when Tom realisies he has been denied the Garden and his wild calling out to the indiferent Hatty. And then, of course the ultimate meeting.

This is just about as good as a story book gets, if the ending doesn't move you somewhere deep inside then I can't imagine what would.

Read this book, you deserve it
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on 17 January 2016
I first read this classic children's novel years ago, when I was perhaps eight. Despite having been written about forty years earlier, it caught my imagination in a way few books could manage, and I read it numerous times. Over Christmas, I had a random desire to read it again, for the first time in about twenty years. This is very definitely a children's book rather than one of those that work just as well for adults, but even now, I still found it a delightful quick read.
The basic premise is that Tom is sent to stay with his aunt and uncle in the little flat while his brother is ill. The sense of being trapped and smothered is palpable, and the aunt who desperatly wants kids and the stuffy uncle who doesn't know what to do with them are both beautifully fleshed out. Before it was divided into flats, the building he's staying in was a huge house. The only remaining artifact from that time is an old-fashioned grandfather clock in the hallway, that always chimes the wrong time. One night, Tom hears it strike thirteen, and when he goes downstairs, seemingly finds himself in the house as it used to be - and most importantly, in its huge, magical garden, where he makes friends with a girl who used to live there.
This was probably the first time-travel novel I read and it's now a genre I love. For me, the best thing about time travel narratives are when they get really mind-bending, and this delivered that to a surprising degree for a book written so long ago and aimed at such a young audience. Because time doesn't run in a linear fashion in the garden. Though his friend is usually the same sort of age as him (ie. about 8 to 10), occasionally she's a toddler, and sometimes, she's a teenager or young woman. And though he goes every night, months can have passed in the garden, usually forwards, but sometimes backwards. I'd be amazed if the author of the Time Traveller's Wife hadn't read and loved this as a child, as it's broadly the same concept, only with childhood friendship rather than adult love.
It's the cleverness of the concept that really grabbed me, but it's also nice to see a male/female friendship, including a girl who loves to play with bows and arrows and climb trees. The garden is beautifully described and both the Victorian era and the (then contemporary) 1950s are brought to life.
If you've got kids, I'd definitely push this in their direction. Don't be put off by the age or the slightly slow opening - this is brilliant. And if you're an adult looking for a quick, nostalgic read, this is still a great choice.
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on 24 July 2015
This was one of my favourites as a child and it didn't lose any of it's magic re-reading it as an adult. A well paced story of Tom Long, a boy sent to stay with his Aunt and Uncle in a flat whilst his brother recovers from illness. Tom is disappointed to discover the flat has no garden and he's faced with several weeks inside. However, after hearing the grandfather clock in the hallway strike 13 in the night, Tom explores and discovers an amazing garden and its inhabitants who only reveal themselves at night. Felt very nostalgic to be enjoying this story again as a thirty-something. Recommended!
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on 28 December 2008
So far its a really exciting book because I'm just waiting to see what happens as I am very nearly at the end. Its very good the book, everyone should read it. My mummy reads it very well to me. I really like it because its fascinating to think that you can go back in time. Its full of magic in the garden and my favourite character is Hatty because she's sort of like me (tom-boy). by Eloise Aged 8.
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on 11 April 2015
Every home should have a copy of this wonderful book for children. The story brings something completely different into a child's imagination, which shapes and enlarges all understanding; and the book is so beautifully written that reading it aloud is as much of a delight as it is to read it oneself. Buy a copy, give a copy - to everyone you know!
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Critically acclaimed as one of the most important and best books for children of the twentieth century and winner of the Carnegie medal, this slim book carries a lot of responsibility on its shoulders. interestingly I read it as a child and didn't like it at all, I now have to read it for a course, thirty years later, and I'm still not keen. I have now studied it, and see why adults rave about it. It is quite deep, it is complex, it wrestles with issues like the generation gap, communication, growing up into a responsible, emotionally mature adult and what it means to be a child. It also looks at issues like death and the afterlife and the nature of time and our place in it as a man made construct. All very laudable and handled by Pearce bravely and quite ingeniously.

On the other hand I do not enjoy the story. I find Tom, the hero of the piece really difficult to like, the action is quite slow and you really have to work hard to keep apace with the shifts in time and Pearce's ideas. It is very old fashioned in the way that it is written and I thought it was quite slow.

My children, 10, 6 and 3 like it, as I am also reading it to them in the hope that they will throw some light on its popularity. They are enjoying it, but we have had to have a few conversations about time and ghosts, which although interesting, are making story time quite challenging.

Maybe I'm just spoiled. I read the Green Knowe books by Lucy M. Boston which I adored and read repeatedly as a child. They deal with the same kind of issues but in a much better way and always this seems like the poor relation to me.
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