Tom's Midnight Garden

by Philippa Pearce. (HarperCollins, 1959 ISBN 0-397-30475-7) Novel. Grades 4+.
This review by Carol Otis Hurst first appeared in Teaching K-8 Magazine.


One of my all time favorite books centers around a wonderful clock that leads to secrets and discoveries. Those of you familiar with it know that it's not a book for every child. Many will lack the imagination and skill to understand this masterpiece, but for those that do, it's unforgettable. The clock that stands on the landing of his aunt and uncle's house has intrigued Tom from the moment he saw it. In fact, it's the only thing of interest he can find in that old house. Told that it belongs to Mrs. Bartholomew, the owner of the house and that he must never touch it, Tom hears it striking thirteen and comes downstairs to find a mysterious and wonderful garden that magically appears only at that time. Within that garden, Tom finds Hattie, a girl from another time, with whom he establishes a close friendship. Time in the midnight garden moves differently than the time in Tom's "real" world -- it moves backward and forward and at a different pace. Within that garden, with Hattie, Tom learns about himself, about time, and how to reach across time. Pearce's time manipulation in this story is beautifully and intriguingly done. The clock becomes a motif throughout the story.


Other Areas of Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site

Time as a Subject and Time Travel Fantasies

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