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The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories (Junior Library Guild Selection) Hardcover – October 28, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Of course, Joan Aiken's gift is for making the ordinary extraordinary. A family called the Armitages lives in a house where magical things tend to happen, often--but not always--on Mondays. Mark and Harriet and their parents simply keep an eye out for such happenings, participating with true British aplomb as well as gusto. It's a place where your great-uncle's mythic apple might attract the Greek Furies to your basement, your parents might be turned into ladybugs, or a quince tree might be stolen by a lady journalist who is also a witch. Where you might be asked to raise a baby griffin, which sounds like fun until you discover just how much the creatures can eat. Where little people prove to be much more grubby and querulous than Mary Norton's Borrowers, and where cutting a puzzle off the back of a cereal box may lead you to a spell that has trapped someone inside for a century.
Most of the stories are funny, and some of them are poignant. Any child who loves the Narnia books and isn't locked into sitcom-type story telling will find that Joan Aiken's Serial Garden is the real thing--a fantasy book that leaves you saying, "Ahhhh" after you finish it.
Joan Aiken is best known for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, one of my favorite books as a child (and as an adult). But if you want to find out how to handle two druids fighting in your backyard over a bathmat woven of beard hair, you really should read The Serial Garden.
The Armitages are an English family in the 1950's who live a rather magical life. It all starts when Mrs. Armitage muses to Mr. Armitage on their honeymoon that she's worried that living happily ever after could be a bit boring. Serendipitously she finds a wishing stone and makes a wish that things won't be dull, and that interesting and unusual things will happen to them, perhaps on Mondays, but not always Mondays (because that could get boring too). She also wishes that her future children will have a fairy godmother. And that their house will have at least one ghost. Right then and there, the stories are born.
Fast forward twelve years or so, and you meet Harriet and Mark, their two plucky children who manage to handle all that comes their way with grace and humor. There are witches and unicorns and best friends who are six inches tall. Things often go awry, and yet these two continue on, seemingly unperturbed by the chaos that surrounds them. They are curious and fearless, whether they are encountering druid brothers fighting over a bathmat made of human hair, or magical gardens that grow out of cereal boxes. In one story, an invisibility cloak is even mentioned, and these were written years before Harry Potter came on the scene.
The stories are imaginative and well written, with surprise twists and turns on almost every page.Read more ›
If you haven't read these stories, I recommend you do. Just don't expect them all to be rosy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very inventive, humorous and interesting stories of the the most lovely family.Published 16 months ago by Lenice Bueno da Silva
Joan Aiken is a treasure for all ages- get as many of her short stories as you can.Published 18 months ago by Azaz
Lovely book, I love the way the magic is mixed with every day life!Published 22 months ago by B. van Dijk
Good book full of short stories for children. I really enjoyed reading this as a child and bought this to reread some of the stories.Published on December 28, 2013 by Chelsea
These stories are intelligent, witty pre-Harry Potter gems. I loved them in my teens, twenties, and again as an adult. Read morePublished on July 17, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Some stories are engrossing and lovely, some are confusing. Maybe it's the era, maybe it's the culture. Read morePublished on June 4, 2013 by Julie N
I have adored Joan Aiken since I learned to read. I love this book because it includes all my favorite Armitage stories. Read morePublished on July 23, 2011 by SSpencer
I always loved Joan Aiken's short stories as a child, and was always intrigued by the ones about the Armitage family. Read morePublished on January 9, 2011 by Anna A. Stanford