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Saturday, 9 March 2013

New edition of childhood favourite, Joan Aiken's The Serial Garden

British writer Joan Aiken was by far my favourite author when I was a kid. She was extremely prolific and wrote across a range of genres, carrying me from historical fiction (the Felix series & the amazing Dido Twite series, for which Edward Gorey did all the original covers!!), to ghost stories (The Shadow Guests, A Fit of Shivers, A Foot in the Grave), to re-imaginings of myths and fairy tales (The Kingdom Under the Sea, A Necklace of Raindrops), to comic stories about the everyday (well, sort of - the Arabel and Mortimer series is about a small girl in 1970s England whose best friend happens to be a talking crow).

Aiken brought together many of my fantasies: being a British Child; being a British child who runs across fabulously bizarre adventures; being a British Child with no parents/bitterly cruel parents/mainly absent parents who runs across fabulously bizarre adventures.

I'm always on the look out for new editions of Aiken's work, so I was delighted to find that her excellent series of stories about the Armitage family was recently republished! And we now have it in the store!

The Serial Garden centers on Harriet and Mark Armitage, whose parents, while neither cruel nor dead nor wholly absent, know better than to meddle in the adventures that sweep into their children's lives every Monday (though sometimes on different days as well, so that things stay interesting).

Each story offers up a new and unexpected series of events. In "Harriet's Hairloom", Harriet inherits a family hairloom (yes, for weaving hair) which leads to an entanglement with some Welsh druids with long beards. In "The Land of Trees and Heroes", Harriet and Mark go to stay at their grandmother's to recover from whooping cough, and come upon a host of enchanted sleepers in Granny's laurel tree. In the titular story, Mark assembles a cardboard garden, cut out from the backs of cereal packages, and is suddenly transported into another world...


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