Book Review: Tom’s Midnight Garden
By Philippa Pearce
Tom was a cross and resentful boy when he was sent to stay with his uncle and aunt because his brother, Peter, had caught the measles. As soon as he joined his relatives in their small apartment, he knew he would be bored and lonely. He would miss Peter as well as the garden at home where they used to play.
Lying awake at night, Tom hears the old grandfather clock downstairs strike . . . eleven . . . twelve . . . thirteen . . . Thirteen! When Tom gets up to investigate, he discovers a magical garden. A garden that everyone told him doesn’t exist. A garden that only he can enter . . .
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
Tom’s Midnight Garden was the winner of the 1958 Carnegie Medal. Like most older books, it has wonderful descriptions and a wonderful childlike innocence.
I had read that Tom’s Midnight Garden is comparable to The Secret Garden by , but the similarities are superficial. Both books have children who have discovered a garden where adults are unaware of the mystery that surrounds them and the protagonist is lonely and dejected.
Tom enjoys the garden as a toy or an adventure. The garden becomes the setting to meet Hattie, though he just sees her as a playmate and doesn’t completely realize that she is growing older while he is not. Tom was much more important to Hattie because she was orphaned and alienated by her aunt and cousins who were to care for her. It is fun to see the difference in England from the 1950’s compared to the late Victorian Era. The garden is a diversion from the rest of Tom’s and Hattie’s existence.
In The Secret Garden Mary discovers a garden locked away and begins to care for it. Through the garden she regains the missing pieces of herself. Mary seeking out the mystery occupant of the house, her sequestered cousin Colin, hopes to heal him through the garden too. The garden is a tool for the well being of the people.
Because the protagonist is male I thought this might be a book that boy’s would enjoy, however, after reading it I believe it will be liked by girls. It seems like most of the older books at this grade level are written for girls. If you have a favorite older book that is geared for boys I would love to hear about it.