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Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
First published 1958

When Tom's brother becomes ill, Tom is sent to stay with his Aunt and Uncle for the Summer holidays. To his dismay, they live in a flat in a converted old house without a garden.

When one night he cannot sleep, Tom thinks he hears the old grandfather clock in the entrance hall strike thirteen. When he reaches the hall and looks around there is now a beautiful garden outside.

But there is something peculiar about it; for a start, the people he sees there are all dressed in Victorian costume and Tom himself seems to be invisible to them, except for a little girl called Hattie.

Once Hattie and Tom get to know each other they become firm friends each finding enjoyment in each other’s company because of loneliness in their own lives. However the author shows that time can never be defeated. Hattie is older each time Tom sees her and once she becomes content in her own world she no longer needs the ghostly presence of Tom.

The book raises questions about time itself and what it really means. Are Hattie and the three older boys in the garden all ghosts? Or is Tom a ghost himself, and is their world the real one?

Tom’s Midnight Garden is a classic book that has stood the test of time and is to this day, a true childhood favourite.

Philippa Pearce died on the 21st Dec 2006 aged 86. Tom’s Midnight Garden published in 1958 was her best known book and it won the Carnegie Medal. Other books by her include A Dog So Small, The Elm Street Lot and The Little Gentleman.

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