The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories

Joan Aiken, MBE, Peter Bailey

The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories
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The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories

Joan Aiken, MBE, Peter Bailey

‘I wish we’ll have two children called Mark and Harriet. And I hope lots of interesting and unusual things will happen to them. It would be nice if they had a fairy godmother, for instance. And a phoenix or something out of the ordinary for a pet. We could have a special day for interesting and unusual things to happen - say, Mondays. But not always Mondays, and not only Mondays, or that would get a bit dull’

As a result of their mother’s honeymoon wish, Mark and Harriet Armitage have a fairy godmother, a pet unicorn, and are prepared for anything life can throw at them (especially, but not always, on a Monday): hatching griffins in the airing cupboard, Latin lessons with a ghost, furious Furies on the doorstep, and an enchanted garden locked inside a cereal packet. Life with the Armitages can be magical, funny, terrifying - but never, ever dull.

Review

This complete collection of Joan Aiken’s stories about the Armitage family is lovely reading for children and adults. Everything you wish your childhood contained – unicorns in the front garden, magic preschool teachers, ghosts for houseguests – happens for Harriet and Mark on a Monday, and is usually resolved by bedtime. The short, funny, warm stories in this collection are linked but can be read in any order and by children (and parents) of any age. Aiken was a prolific children’s author and this book, which begins with stories written in the 1950s and finishes with posthumous additions from 2008, reads freshly and lightly and promises many happy Monday daydreams. I loved this book — highly recommended!


Georgia Delaney works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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