This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Saturday Rave: Tom's Midnight Garden by A Philippa Pearse

If, standing alone on the back doorstep, Tom allowed himself to weep tears, they were tears of anger.

How about that for a first sentence to a book?

Tom is angry because all his plans for the wonderful long summer holidays have been wrecked. Fate has descended in the form of the measles: Tom's brother Peter is infected, and Tom is to be exiled to his uncle's flat. Tom doesn't like his uncle and aunt all that much, and they aren't used to children.

At first things are quite as awkward as Tom expected. His aunt tries (much too hard) to entertain him, but her rich food makes it  difficult for him to get to sleep.

Perhaps it gives him extraordinary dreams, too; or perhaps what it does is allow him to travel in time.

There is a girl called Hatty, and a storm which brings down a huge fir tree, and a blissful garden...

...but only sometimes.

This book was written over fifty years ago. It's full of people who still seem completely real to me, even though, interestingly, they're not the sort of people you find in modern stories.

If you read it, it'll haunt you for ever.

Word To Use Today: midnight. Mid means middle, of course, and night has hardly changed from the Old English word niht. The Latin and Greek versions nox and nux respectively aren't that different, either.

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