The Night Garden
It is World War II, and Franny and her parents, Sina and Old Tom, enjoy a quiet life on a farm on Vancouver Island. Franny writes, Sina sculpts, and Old Tom tends to their many gardens--including the ancient, mysterious night garden. Their peaceful life is interrupted when their neighbor, Crying Alice, begs Sina to watch her children while she goes to visit her husband at the military base because she suspects he's up to no good. Soon after the children move in, letters arrive from their father that suggest he's about to do something to change their lives; and appearances from a stubborn young cook, UFOs, hermits, and ghosts only make life stranger. Can the forbidden night garden that supposedly grants everyone one wish help them all out of trouble? And if so, at what cost?

The Night Garden Details

TitleThe Night Garden
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 12th, 2017
PublisherFarrar Straus Giroux
ISBN-139780374304522
Rating
GenreFantasy, Childrens, Middle Grade, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, Canada, Juvenile

The Night Garden Review

  • Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
    January 1, 1970
    This was the first Polly Horvath novel that I have read but it most certainly will not be my last!What an incredible, funny, quirky, and enjoyable read. The story was unique, mysterious, and entertaining. From the beginning, I didn't know where it was going to go or what was coming next. The mystery and intrigue lasted throughout and ended with me reading the last quarter at a rapid speed due to the excitement of the adventure. Additionally, this novel was laugh-out-loud funny. I don't even mean This was the first Polly Horvath novel that I have read but it most certainly will not be my last!What an incredible, funny, quirky, and enjoyable read. The story was unique, mysterious, and entertaining. From the beginning, I didn't know where it was going to go or what was coming next. The mystery and intrigue lasted throughout and ended with me reading the last quarter at a rapid speed due to the excitement of the adventure. Additionally, this novel was laugh-out-loud funny. I don't even mean that in a figure of speech way, I am serious. The sarcasm, the subtle jokes, the obvious ones--there were some pretty hilarious moments (do not even get me started on how long I was laughing over the lost Brownies scene). Along with the amazing story, each character had an important role and I enjoyed each one so much that I can't pick a favourite. Franny may have been my favourite for her sarcasm alone but from Sina and Old Tom to Miss Macy and the Hermit, I loved them all. Heck, I even loved the role of Crying Alice and Fixing Bob. Although this book is geared towards a younger audience, trust me on this one: if you enjoy a good, lighthearted, funny, and cute story....you will love this one. It's one of those reads that could easily become a classic as it's timeless and enjoyable for those at any age. This book has a big ol' stamp of approval from me and I will be wholeheartedly recommending it to many. *Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review**
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  • Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
    January 1, 1970
    This is a strange and funny tale with quirky characters. Going into it I had expected a Gothic Middle-School mystery with a hint of paranormal but got something quite different. Let's put it this way, if Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden and Lemony Snicket were mixed together out would pop The Night Garden as their bookish concoction. Franny (ie. Anne) is our wayward orphan who speaks her mind and is left with Sina and Old Tom (Marilla and Matthew). We have the eerie Night Garden (a dark, This is a strange and funny tale with quirky characters. Going into it I had expected a Gothic Middle-School mystery with a hint of paranormal but got something quite different. Let's put it this way, if Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden and Lemony Snicket were mixed together out would pop The Night Garden as their bookish concoction. Franny (ie. Anne) is our wayward orphan who speaks her mind and is left with Sina and Old Tom (Marilla and Matthew). We have the eerie Night Garden (a dark, murky, supernatural version of Mary Lennox' famous garden) and a mishmash cast of peculiar characters (a la Snicket). The off-beat and often funny dialogue made this book for me. It had the right amount of sarcasm and great one-liners that had me, quite literally, chuckling out loud.But ... I was surprised and more than a little let down that the Night Garden, the title 'character', barely made it into the book and was underutilized. I had expected less of the missing plane mystery (which just wasn't riveting) and more focus around the eerie goings on in the garden.In the end, this is a strange tale with some memorable, quirky characters, eye-catching cover and solid writing. There's a lot going on and for the most part it worked but more focus on the mystery and the Night Garden would have made this a better read for me.Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Puffin Canada for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Melora
    January 1, 1970
    Not awful, but not as enjoyable as some of Horvath's previous books. The implausible dialogue is amusing for a while, but soon the arch, precocious narrator's oh-so-clever conversation becomes wearing. There are some sympathetic characters, but the Madden family, who provide the main action are made so excessively irritating that I was unable to summon the slightest concern for their plight. Eventually a series of stupid decisions by various characters snowballs into an absurd climax. More appea Not awful, but not as enjoyable as some of Horvath's previous books. The implausible dialogue is amusing for a while, but soon the arch, precocious narrator's oh-so-clever conversation becomes wearing. There are some sympathetic characters, but the Madden family, who provide the main action are made so excessively irritating that I was unable to summon the slightest concern for their plight. Eventually a series of stupid decisions by various characters snowballs into an absurd climax. More appealing are the interactions among the narrator's little family of quirky introverts and their eccentric neighbors, especially the bebopping Gladys and the sequined-underwear sporting Miss Macy, and even the narrator's artistic aspirations and efforts at profundities come across as sweet. The Victorian house, with its rambling gardens and grounds, touched with wisps of magic and teaming with hermits, Brownies, and poker playing soldiers offers great promise, so it is particularly disappointing that the action provided by the idiotic “Fixing Bob” and his woeful wife, “Crying Alice,“is so unsatisfying and the resolution is so predictable. The various strands here -- war, artistic growth, family loyalties, UFOs, ghosts, and so on – never really form an interesting whole, and I only finished because I was in a reading in a comfortable deck chair and it's not a long book. Two stars might be a little harsh, but I wanted to indicate that this is really not one of her better efforts.
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  • Munro's Kids
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVE some Poly Horvath books. Everything on a Waffle qualifies as one of my favourite children's books. Ever. Trolls was such a strange blend of whimsy fun and darkness that it also left a strong impression with me. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny delighted me to no end - oh, those crazy stupid bunnies with their all-important detective hats!Others I have been a little bored by, or have failed (gulp) to finish. I'm not sure I could even give you the titles as they made such little impression upon me.The Ni I LOVE some Poly Horvath books. Everything on a Waffle qualifies as one of my favourite children's books. Ever. Trolls was such a strange blend of whimsy fun and darkness that it also left a strong impression with me. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny delighted me to no end - oh, those crazy stupid bunnies with their all-important detective hats!Others I have been a little bored by, or have failed (gulp) to finish. I'm not sure I could even give you the titles as they made such little impression upon me.The Night Garden fell much more into the first category than the second, I am happy to report. Set in Sooke during WWII, the setting is very close to home, which I always appreciate. The characters are admittedly silly and outrageous. Lemony Snicket is not a bad comparison. However, unlike many authors who employ quirky well past the realm of realism, I find Horvath's writing to be FUNNY (NB: I also think Snicket is hilarious. Just not all the impostors). I chuckled my way through The Night Garden's dialogue and the main character's commentary. It wasn't at all realistic, but it was sharp, funny, and an astutely insightful exaggeration of personalities. The touch of the metaphysical also worked fine for me - I liked the Night Garden and the danger it represented, and the trouble it got people into. And while I liked that Horvath shied away from any pat or perfect endings, I would have liked a little more closure on some of the relationships that were developed during the novel (friends were made, and then they departed with very little fuss in either case, and that left me a little adrift). And while I enjoyed the story, I didn't fully notice any point or message to it. Not a terrible thing to have a non-messagy book. But I think my inability to find a main theme points to a certain lack of heart at the core which would have taken it from very enjoyable in my books to a fully excellent read.Good for smarty-pants kids as young as 9 and up to age 13. Lots of fancy words and sophisticated observations. Very good for adults who like kid's books.-Kirsten
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    This one starts with the wild wackiness I expect from Horvath but after the first chapter the story mellows into a nutty but truly sweet tale of family, home and our responsibility to each other. "We all drink from the same pond," says Sina. Observations on writing and creativity flow through the story and while the young narrator Franny often sounds far older than her years, I was still charmed by her voice and story. Touches of magical realism through the rumored wishes provided by the Night G This one starts with the wild wackiness I expect from Horvath but after the first chapter the story mellows into a nutty but truly sweet tale of family, home and our responsibility to each other. "We all drink from the same pond," says Sina. Observations on writing and creativity flow through the story and while the young narrator Franny often sounds far older than her years, I was still charmed by her voice and story. Touches of magical realism through the rumored wishes provided by the Night Garden added a wonderful element.This was a lower-key Horvath but one I thoroughly enjoyed as anything Horvath stands above the throng. Give this to your savvy readers who will appreciate something different.
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
  • Josie
    January 1, 1970
    Set in a rural area in 1945 our orphan Fanny together with her guardians must learn to cope with caring for a neighbour's children as their mother goes to stop her husband from doing something terrible. We follow their adventures and the mysterious Night Garden which they are forbidden to enter.To be fair, I really think I am not the target audience for this Tale. I enjoy children's fiction, but it has to be very well written and extremely engaging. The story seemed like it was trying to be a ma Set in a rural area in 1945 our orphan Fanny together with her guardians must learn to cope with caring for a neighbour's children as their mother goes to stop her husband from doing something terrible. We follow their adventures and the mysterious Night Garden which they are forbidden to enter.
To be fair, I really think I am not the target audience for this Tale. I enjoy children's fiction, but it has to be very well written and extremely engaging. The story seemed like it was trying to be a mashup between Anne of Green Gables and A Series of Unfortunate events. The author was trying so hard to make her characters quirky and unique  it just ended up feeling strained. The conversations were so unrealistic, especially the dialogue between adults and children. Everything was so nonsensical....and I mean every single character. This is not generally a writing style that I prefer and therefore struggled through this book. If you enjoyed Tahereh Mafi's Furthermore you might enjoy this more than I.
A copy of this ebook was provided to my through netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
for more reviews and other bookish things visit my blog https://unlikelymagic.com
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  • Sarah Ellyse
    January 1, 1970
    I'll try not to be too "gushy", but I can't say enough good things about this book. At first I thought it was going to be similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events, with a foster child and burning houses, but it wasn't at all. I admire how Polly Horvath wrote from the perspective of a pre-teen without filling the dialogue with petty drama. The narrator does have her quiet world turned upside down, and she does have to deal with change and jealousy, and that awkward "in-between childhood and adul I'll try not to be too "gushy", but I can't say enough good things about this book. At first I thought it was going to be similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events, with a foster child and burning houses, but it wasn't at all. I admire how Polly Horvath wrote from the perspective of a pre-teen without filling the dialogue with petty drama. The narrator does have her quiet world turned upside down, and she does have to deal with change and jealousy, and that awkward "in-between childhood and adulthood" phase, but the witty and tenderhearted way she processes all of it is so refreshing. My favorite part of this book is that Polly Horvath skillfully walks the line between reality and the fantastical world that we want to be exist. She just gets it. She puts in words what we all feel about chasing that magic that we can't quite reach and for that I am grateful.
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  • Alex (not a dude) Baugh
    January 1, 1970
    It’s early spring 1945. In the small coastal town of Soote, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the kids have been given their summer vacation in the spring while the roof of their school is being fixed. Which is OK by twelve-year-old Franny Whitekraft, who’s very content to hang out at home with her adoptive parents Sina (short for Thomasina), a sculptress, and Old Tom, who loves nothing more than to tend to his many gardens on their 270 acre farm, East Soote Farm. So far, the WWII hasn't re It’s early spring 1945. In the small coastal town of Soote, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the kids have been given their summer vacation in the spring while the roof of their school is being fixed. Which is OK by twelve-year-old Franny Whitekraft, who’s very content to hang out at home with her adoptive parents Sina (short for Thomasina), a sculptress, and Old Tom, who loves nothing more than to tend to his many gardens on their 270 acre farm, East Soote Farm. So far, the WWII hasn't really impacted their lives except for the soldiers located on their property. That is, until Crying Alice Madden arrives and manages to talk Sina into watching her three children, Winifred, 11. Wilfred, 9, and Zebediah, 6, while she goes to Comox to see what was going on with her husband, Fixing Bob. He's a mechanic in the Canadian Air Force, who is in charge of the Argot, an amazing top secret plane that can stay in the air for hours beyond any other plane. Crying Alice is sure he is up to something he shouldn't do and hopes to stop him from making that mistake, whatever it is. Into this mix comes Gladys Brookman, a young woman interested in bebop and men, and hired as a cook while the Madden children stay at East Soote Farm. Soon things settle into a routine. Franny and Winifred begin to hang out together, Old Tom and Wilfred work in the fields planting potatoes together, and Zebediah seems drawn to the cabin of a hermit that is allowed to live in the woods on the farm. But pretty soon, it becomes apparent that Zebediah is writing to his father, and not sharing the letters he receives back from Fixing Bob with his siblings. Winifred is consumed with a desire to find his letters and read them, but when she and Franny finally do find them, she doesn’t know what they say.Meanwhile, Franny relays the story about the night garden to the Madden kids, the one place that no one is allowed to enter. The night garden grants one wish per person, and the wish cannot be undone, often leading to complications and serious consequences for the wishers. Naturally, when he discovers just what Fixing Bob is up to, Zebediah, who shares his father’s love of planes, wants nothing more than to join him doing the thing he shouldn't be doing. Before anyone can stop him, Zebediah is over the locked fence of the night garden and then just gone. To try and temper things, Winifred, Wilfred, and finally Old Tom do the same thing and as a result, things get really complicated and zany ( though I’m not sure zany is a strong enough word for what follows). The Night Garden is actually a fun book to read with all kinds of quirky twists and turns, yet never so complicated or so complex you forget who is who or what has happened. It is narrated in a very straightforward voice by Franny, an aspiring writer who has a pretty good grasp on exposition. And her timing is perfect, revealing information only as it is needed. The story actually starts with the story of just how Sina and Old Tom managed to acquire Franny, and the ending circles back to this story in a very interesting way. As you read, you may recognize elements of other stories - orphans, magic gardens, hermits who know things that make you wonder how they know them and Horvath has woven these into her story so they are recognizable, but still original. And despite the realistic setting, this is not really a war story, or, for that matter, even historical fiction despite the time it is set in. There are some anachronisms, but the story is basically fantasy, so maybe, since they aren't biggies, they don’t really count here. Instead, think of this as a rather, a unusual adventure about family,and love with a good dose of magic thrown in. The Night Garden is a fun book that should appeal to anyone looking for a bit of whimsy and anyone who is just looking for a good story.This book is recommended for readers age 9+This book was an ARC received from the publisher
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  • Tiara
    January 1, 1970
    3.5*First of thank you so much Penguin Random House for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!! I enjoyed mostly all of the characters! Sina, Old Tom, Franny, Winifred, Wilfred, Miss Macy, they were all awesome! Another thing I enjoyed was how the parent figures were present in this novel so that way you got that family aspect in there! The plot was interesting as it was during World War II in Victoria, British Columbia. The book was funny and quirky, it was honestly very light-h 3.5*First of thank you so much Penguin Random House for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!! I enjoyed mostly all of the characters! Sina, Old Tom, Franny, Winifred, Wilfred, Miss Macy, they were all awesome! Another thing I enjoyed was how the parent figures were present in this novel so that way you got that family aspect in there! The plot was interesting as it was during World War II in Victoria, British Columbia. The book was funny and quirky, it was honestly very light-hearted. However, I feel as if I was expecting more and that my expectations weren’t met. Some parts were fast paced, and I enjoyed the beginning and ending lots. The parts in between though ranged from not putting it down to just trying to pull through it. Don’t get me wrong though, it was such an easy read and it was comforting how light hearted it was, and it had funny lines, I just think for me my expectations weren’t really met. I also felt as if the pacing was strange during the whole book. At some parts I couldn't put it down and at others I had to push myself to keep reading. Overall, I'd recommend it to you if you're in the mood for a light and easy read, that's quirky and funny.
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  • Katniss Everdeen💖
    January 1, 1970
    Good book
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Middle school book-this is the type of book I loved to read at that age! Funny, odd characters and some magical realism in a setting that made you want to camp outdoors and climb trees, I liked the sense of humor and the quirkiness of it all.
  • Jennifer Rayment
    January 1, 1970
    A delightful tale for a more mature 9-10 year old (not for content -just for the more sophisticated language) Lots of quirky characters, snappy dialogue and the familiar Canadian setting are the highlights of the tale for me. I felt the characters a little too wise for their years, but hey not necessarily a bad thing. It drags a wee bit and I really wanted to actually know more about the night garden itself, but all in a ll a lovely read. Favourite Quotes"It does go to show that so much of your A delightful tale for a more mature 9-10 year old (not for content -just for the more sophisticated language) Lots of quirky characters, snappy dialogue and the familiar Canadian setting are the highlights of the tale for me. I felt the characters a little too wise for their years, but hey not necessarily a bad thing. It drags a wee bit and I really wanted to actually know more about the night garden itself, but all in a ll a lovely read. Favourite Quotes"It does go to show that so much of your experience is based not on fact but on what you choose to believe about things. ""Still, that wasn't touched, maybe just a little bit odd, and odd people were often the most interesting.""And sometimes you have to deal with what is in front of you whether you want to or not."
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  • Linda Zelig
    January 1, 1970
    I don't care that I picked up this book in the Children's Section of my library. It was enthralling and captivating and mysterious. Every chapter ended with an unexpected or surprise bit of information. What a sneaky means to keep you turning the pages! I loved it!
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    A fun and fast read for those who enjoy mystery, unusual characters, and a touch of the supernatural. Perfect for fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Serafina and the Black Cloak, and Greenglass House.
  • Michelle (FabBookReviews)
    January 1, 1970
    "See the sun sinking over the edge of the sea? This day is done. This day will never come again. Everything has changed. Remind yourself of that every morning and every night, and then you won't come to expect anything but what is. It's expecting anything but what is that makes people unhappy." What a surprising and fantastic read this is! In Polly Horvath's terrifically magical The Night Garden, the Newbery Honor and National Book Award winning author takes readers on a beautiful, often funny, "See the sun sinking over the edge of the sea? This day is done. This day will never come again. Everything has changed. Remind yourself of that every morning and every night, and then you won't come to expect anything but what is. It's expecting anything but what is that makes people unhappy." What a surprising and fantastic read this is! In Polly Horvath's terrifically magical The Night Garden, the Newbery Honor and National Book Award winning author takes readers on a beautiful, often funny, often extraordinary adventure.This middle grade novel takes place in 1945 on Vancouver Island, over the course of the last months of World War II, with twelve year old Franny Whitekraft as our narrator. Franny has been living with Old Tom and Sina since she was a baby due to "a series of mistakes involving their neighbors", which included a fire and an adoption worker having a heart attack. Franny lives a life of comfort and habit with her mom and dad in their Victorian home on a rambling property called East Sooke Farm, just outside of Victoria. Franny and her parents' regular- some would argue "medieval"- life comes to major, irrevocable upheaval when a desperate, overwhelmed and emotional neighbor they call Crying Alice has to attend to her possibly unstable husband named Fixing Bob, a plane mechanic for a top secret Canadian military plane called the Argot. Crying Alice not only needs to leave her three children in the care of Sina, Old Tom and Franny, but also has no idea of when she might return for her children. While all three Whitekrafts attempt to adjust to Winifred, Wilfred, and Zebediah in their lives, the bizarre mystery of Fixing Bob's potentially fatal trouble comes to light, and the closely guarded magical night garden that Old Tom forbids anyone from entering takes center stage. Horvath weaves a great number of elements in The Night Garden; readers may wonder how on earth the hermit who lives off the East Sooke Farm property, or the Whitekraft's terrible yet unintentionally funny new cook named Gladys, or the inclusion of Sina believing she has seen a UFO, or the actual wish-granting night garden itself will tie together... but they all do in the end, in some truly unexpected, very moving ways. There is also a bit of wonderful madcap humour in The Night Garden, which brings some levity and bursting humour as the novel delves into more serious scenes and some frightening, heart-stopping moments.Overall, a wonderful and unexpected read that effortlessly blends magic, poignancy and adventure with a good dose of surprising comedy. I was very taken in by The Night Garden; deeply invested in Franny's dry and frank narration of the incredible moments of her twelfth year from beginning to end. Readers who enjoy Canadian children's literature, the work of authors such as Kit Pearson, Katherine Applegate, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Wendy Mass, or titles such as Once Was a Time by Leila Sales that work magical elements into affecting stories might especially adore the beautiful peculiarity of The Night Garden.I received a copy of this title courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.
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  • Cornmaven
    January 1, 1970
    Very disappointed with this supposed historical fiction story set in WWII, Victoria, Canada. The war barely intrudes, and while that may have been true for that area at the time, it certainly didn't serve this story well.It's supposed to be a coming-of-age, I think, but 12 year old Franny is light years ahead in sophistication already, with a huge vocabulary and very mature insights. The quirky way she came to be Old Tom's and Sina's daughter doesn't figure in until the very end. The wacky Madde Very disappointed with this supposed historical fiction story set in WWII, Victoria, Canada. The war barely intrudes, and while that may have been true for that area at the time, it certainly didn't serve this story well.It's supposed to be a coming-of-age, I think, but 12 year old Franny is light years ahead in sophistication already, with a huge vocabulary and very mature insights. The quirky way she came to be Old Tom's and Sina's daughter doesn't figure in until the very end. The wacky Madden family brings an interesting feature to the plot, and I liked them. The night garden itself doesn't ever really become its own character or even a strong metaphor, which I felt it should have been. The hermit is interesting, and his origin story should have been revealed. In the end the "moral" is laid out in an exposition of a couple of pages at the very end.And, I have to locate this on the middle school shelf, because there are some comments made that just don't belong in a juvenile book. Yet, MSers won't pick this up because of the protagonist's age and the juvenile cover.There are far better WWII books for kids these days than this one. For "wish" stories, try WishTree by Katherine Applegate and Wish by Barbara O'Connor. Far superior.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    The Night Garden by Polly Horvath is a charming middle grade novel set in 1945. This story is a little bit historical fiction and a little bit fantasy.Set on Vancouver Island during the time when the world was at war with the Nazis and Japan. The narrator, Franny, tells us the story of the Maddens: Flying Bob, Crying Alice, Wilfred, Winnifred, and Zebediah. It's also in part the story of Thomasina and Old Tom and their beautiful home and abundant gardens. When the Madden children come to live wi The Night Garden by Polly Horvath is a charming middle grade novel set in 1945. This story is a little bit historical fiction and a little bit fantasy.Set on Vancouver Island during the time when the world was at war with the Nazis and Japan. The narrator, Franny, tells us the story of the Maddens: Flying Bob, Crying Alice, Wilfred, Winnifred, and Zebediah. It's also in part the story of Thomasina and Old Tom and their beautiful home and abundant gardens. When the Madden children come to live with Thomasina and Old Tom for a spell, their quiet life turns upside down. UFO sightings, paranormal activity, a secret, and a locked garden only a few can enter all feature in this incredibly descriptive story. As soon as you open the book you will inhabit Franny. Horvath keeps the language simple but incredibly descriptive and evocative of the 1940s and war time. With a fascinating supporting cast of characters and a touch of magic, you are never quite sure where the story is taking you at any given moment keeping it interesting and attention grabbing.The Night Garden is a great middle grade read for any of your readers who enjoy stories infused with a little magic.
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  • Martha Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    Franny, 12, and her parents, Sina and Old Tom, live a peaceful life on a farm on Vancouver Island during WW2. Their troubles revolve around the creative process (Sina is a sculptor and Franny writes.) and the seasonal work of the farm -- until Crying Alice, their neighbor, arrives with an unusual request. She wants Franny, Sina and Old Tom to watch over her 3 kids while she tries to prevent her husband, an air force base mechanic,  from doing something stupid. Supernatural events, crazy mysterie Franny, 12, and her parents, Sina and Old Tom, live a peaceful life on a farm on Vancouver Island during WW2. Their troubles revolve around the creative process (Sina is a sculptor and Franny writes.) and the seasonal work of the farm -- until Crying Alice, their neighbor, arrives with an unusual request. She wants Franny, Sina and Old Tom to watch over her 3 kids while she tries to prevent her husband, an air force base mechanic,  from doing something stupid. Supernatural events, crazy mysteries and very bad cooking ensue! Polly Horvath writes with such quirky warmth, and has such a multiplicity of odd but mostly well meaning characters, that you won't want to leave the world of the novel. Recommended for readers 9 - 12 as well as anyone who loves a good story. The beauty of the book lies in the willingness of some to sacrifice their greatest gifts for others to be able to hold onto family.
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  • Jen Kayna (Habitat for Happiness)
    January 1, 1970
    I would describe this book as a "silly strange story". It's one of those stories that purposely has over-the-top characters (like Crying Alice, a woman who cries all the time. Or like Gladys, who is hired as a cook but constantly burns the food yet never gets fired). The Night Garden is aimed at young readers and hints at the silly writing style in the synopsis, however one thing I was expecting more of was scenes with the night garden itself! The night garden is described as a ancient, forbidde I would describe this book as a "silly strange story". It's one of those stories that purposely has over-the-top characters (like Crying Alice, a woman who cries all the time. Or like Gladys, who is hired as a cook but constantly burns the food yet never gets fired). The Night Garden is aimed at young readers and hints at the silly writing style in the synopsis, however one thing I was expecting more of was scenes with the night garden itself! The night garden is described as a ancient, forbidden garden that can grant everyone a wish, which I thought sounded interesting and hence was the reason I picked up the book. I was a disappointed that barely any time or focus was spent on the night garden. Instead, the book is filled with strange bits and pieces...like alien sightings, and people stealing army planes and ghosts and strange girl scouts. Despite it being so strange, I did still find myself wanting to see what happened at the end, which is why I gave it a 3 stars in the end.
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  • Ellen Hamilton
    January 1, 1970
    It was an easy read, interesting, quiet, funny, and a bit annoying, especially the Madden Family. I did feel that this story was woven with elements from Anne of Green Gables and the Secret Garden, but it is still very original.I found Franny too grown-up for her age, and Gladys was plain irritating. I don't know how Sina could've kept her for that long. Sina and Old Tom were two adorable ducks... I love the way they get lost in their old words, and when they do notice each other, they startle e It was an easy read, interesting, quiet, funny, and a bit annoying, especially the Madden Family. I did feel that this story was woven with elements from Anne of Green Gables and the Secret Garden, but it is still very original.I found Franny too grown-up for her age, and Gladys was plain irritating. I don't know how Sina could've kept her for that long. Sina and Old Tom were two adorable ducks... I love the way they get lost in their old words, and when they do notice each other, they startle each other.I'm going to admit something, which is really funny: When Sina told Franny that she made a wish once, and they tried to un-wish it and it didn't work, I thought that Sina wished to be tall. LOL >_< What a dunce, right?Overall, this was a good book, but not too satisfying.
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  • Wendy Kuzma
    January 1, 1970
    Not sure how I feel about this one...at times there are topics touched upon that seemed a little too grown up for the intended audience (which I am basing on the length and reading level of the book). Also, given the fact that the book is entitled The Night Garden, I was expecting more of the book to take place in the garden or have the characters constantly wondering about the garden or trying to get into the garden. However, although the garden plays a significant role in the ending of the sto Not sure how I feel about this one...at times there are topics touched upon that seemed a little too grown up for the intended audience (which I am basing on the length and reading level of the book). Also, given the fact that the book is entitled The Night Garden, I was expecting more of the book to take place in the garden or have the characters constantly wondering about the garden or trying to get into the garden. However, although the garden plays a significant role in the ending of the story, there are large portions of the story where it is hardly mentioned. In addition, some of the endings for individual characters, not related to the fantastical elements of the story, just did not seem plausible to me.
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  • Anita Daher
    January 1, 1970
    The story begins with a beautiful cadence of simple lives, as 12-year-old Franny, our narrator, and her adoptive parents, Old Tom and Sina, rattle about in a huge, Victorian house (with a fascinating history) by the sea on Vancouver Island. Sina sculpts, tortured by her search for the true character of her subjects, Franny writes, musing on the elusive magic of story, and Old Tom tends his many gardens, including the mysterious and forbidden, Night Garden. The story is a tapestry of mystery, mer The story begins with a beautiful cadence of simple lives, as 12-year-old Franny, our narrator, and her adoptive parents, Old Tom and Sina, rattle about in a huge, Victorian house (with a fascinating history) by the sea on Vancouver Island. Sina sculpts, tortured by her search for the true character of her subjects, Franny writes, musing on the elusive magic of story, and Old Tom tends his many gardens, including the mysterious and forbidden, Night Garden. The story is a tapestry of mystery, mermaids, ghosts, hermits, and UFOs, embossed with a strong message about love. The author reminds us, with humour, and her quirky assembly of eccentric, mischievous misfits, that families come in an infinite combination of patterns, including family by choice. Loved it!
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  • Cee
    January 1, 1970
    The Night Garden tell the story of Franny, adopted by whimsical parents: Old Tom and Sina, who live in a large house surrounded by fanciful gardens, one of which is the night garden where no one is allowed. When Crying Alice drops off her children, Wilfred, Winnifred and Zebediah, much adventure ensues as wild Zebediah cannot contain his curiosity about the Night Garden. This novel has many laugh out loud moments, Franny speaks with mature authority and her observations are quite charming. The p The Night Garden tell the story of Franny, adopted by whimsical parents: Old Tom and Sina, who live in a large house surrounded by fanciful gardens, one of which is the night garden where no one is allowed. When Crying Alice drops off her children, Wilfred, Winnifred and Zebediah, much adventure ensues as wild Zebediah cannot contain his curiosity about the Night Garden. This novel has many laugh out loud moments, Franny speaks with mature authority and her observations are quite charming. The plot moves slowly at first but picks up speed and ends in a spectacular way. Middle grade readers will be spellbound.
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  • Laura Phelps
    January 1, 1970
    Magical realism is not always my favorite genre, but I liked the way Horvath merged the magic and the real in this one. The setting is unusual (Vancouver Island during WW2) and the characters are quirky in the classic Horvath manner. The ending felt a little rushed and frantic - the pace was fairly steady (some might say slow) until the last quarter, when suddenly things sped up exponentially. Nevertheless, middle grade readers who enjoy mystery, historical fiction and/or magical realism will en Magical realism is not always my favorite genre, but I liked the way Horvath merged the magic and the real in this one. The setting is unusual (Vancouver Island during WW2) and the characters are quirky in the classic Horvath manner. The ending felt a little rushed and frantic - the pace was fairly steady (some might say slow) until the last quarter, when suddenly things sped up exponentially. Nevertheless, middle grade readers who enjoy mystery, historical fiction and/or magical realism will enjoy this one.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    This novel follows Franny, a 12 year old who lives on a farm with her adopted parents. Their life is pretty quiet, even with the hermit living in the woods and soldiers (WWI) living on the shores of their beach. That is until the neighbors 3 children move it, as the mother is sure their father who lives on the air force base, is up to no good. All seems normal, expect for the Night Garden which no one is allowed in, there is an old tale that the Night Garden will grant one wish to who ever wishe This novel follows Franny, a 12 year old who lives on a farm with her adopted parents. Their life is pretty quiet, even with the hermit living in the woods and soldiers (WWI) living on the shores of their beach. That is until the neighbors 3 children move it, as the mother is sure their father who lives on the air force base, is up to no good. All seems normal, expect for the Night Garden which no one is allowed in, there is an old tale that the Night Garden will grant one wish to who ever wishes within. Both suspicions turn out to be true. It was a good story, but a bit slow at times.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of The Night Garden through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review — thank you!What a compelling, darkly-funny little book, filled with rich and over-the-top characters. I have been seeing a lot of comparisons to Lemony Snicket, which I completely get — with the added benefit that this is an original enough book that you don’t feel like you’re reading someone who’s just hopping on the bandwagon.Definitely recommended if you like dark stories, larger-than-life people I received a free copy of The Night Garden through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review — thank you!What a compelling, darkly-funny little book, filled with rich and over-the-top characters. I have been seeing a lot of comparisons to Lemony Snicket, which I completely get — with the added benefit that this is an original enough book that you don’t feel like you’re reading someone who’s just hopping on the bandwagon.Definitely recommended if you like dark stories, larger-than-life people, and a flair for the dramatic.
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  • Pat
    January 1, 1970
    I love Polly Horvath's writing--her characters, her humor, her knack for describing the beauty of Victoria Island, her ability to spin a plot that incorporates magic into the mundaneness of everyday life. This book ended with a crescendo of epiphany that some may call heavyhanded, but I call nurturing. Everyone, especially children, need to have great wisdom bestowed upon them, and Horvath manages to do that with every book she writes.
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  • Elaine
    January 1, 1970
    Polly Horvath is quietly brilliant, very much like Daniel Pinkwater. The Night Garden is my favorite MG book of 2018 so far. Who else could pull off a laugh-out-loud, touching, and profound magical realism family story set in WW2 British Columbia with a collection of unique lovable characters + ghosts, aliens, PTSD, and commentary on mass media? Genius.
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  • Maryposa
    January 1, 1970
    I'm giving it an extra star for having one of the best quotes on writing I've ever read. "That's the problem with telling people you write. They always want to give you things to write about. As if the things you write about could come from them. Or from you."It also totally nailed how an only child reacts to houseguests. I can relate.
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