Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken

I first discovered Joan Aiken in our local library in Belfast - the librarian had suggested that I might like to try one of her books of short stories. I didn't just like them, I loved them - they were quirky and different, and were probably my first proper introduction to fantasy. I found the only other JA book and devoured that too ... and as there weren't any others to read, returned to them at regular intervals to re-read them again and again. A few years later I made my first ever book purchase all by myself, with a book token I'd been given, and after prowling round the shelves was excited to find a whole lot more of her stuff to read, and finally met Dido Twite. 
But it has always been the Armitage family from those short story collections, who have remained the most strongly remembered in my mind - and especially that bittersweet tale of the magical garden made up from cereal packets. As I tracked down various Aiken books over the years, the book with that particular story evaded me - so I was thrilled when The Serial Garden appeared a few years ago. Gathered together  are all 24 of the Armitage family stories, including my favourite, which is still just as good as the first time I read it. Even more excitingly, four of the stories are entirely new ones, not published elsewhere before.  They are stories, as they say, 'for children of all ages' - full of fun and wit and absolutely ageless. Go buy!
The Serial Garden