My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Strangely, though it was published in 1958, I don't remember ever reading this as a child. I only read it now in preparation for the Open University's children's literature course, but I throughly enjoyed it. Though it's low key and not all that much happens -- Tom visits the beautiful garden that only appears after midnight and plays with the girl he meets there -- it had a strong narrative pull and I kept wanting to read on.
At the time the book was published, the present day story would have been contemporary, but now Tom's quarantine due to his brother's measles and the lack of things to do at his aunt and uncle's flat make the "modern" part of the story something of a period piece too.
I suspect that modern children may find the story lacking in excitement and it breaks all the current "rules" in that Tom tends to be a passive observer rather than actively driving the story, there is an omniscient narrator who tells the story rather than it all being "shown" and there is a lot of description, but the story is still a strong one.
Though an adult may see the ending coming from about halfway through the book, it still works and I wept a few tears at the end because it is that perfect mix of happy and sad and feels exactly right.
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[Because LiveJournal is still occasionally wobbly, this was posted to Dreamwidth http://heleninwales.dreamwidth.org/3970.html and then crossposted to LJ. If you want to comment, please feel free to do so at whichever site you find most convenient.]