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Tom's Midnight Garden Graphic Novel

Review

Tom's Midnight Garden Graphic Novel

Written by Philippa Pearce and illustrated by Edith .

TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN is a graphic novel adaptation of a 1958 novel of the same title by Philippa Pearce. In this story, the young protagonist Tom must leave home to stay with his Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan while his younger brother Peter recovers from the measles. Tom is miserable at his aunt and uncle’s house because there are no children his age for him to play with and he is initially required to remain indoors to insure that he has not also contracted the measles. Once he is free to roam about, Aunt Gwen takes him to different museums and shops each day; however, he is still unhappy.

Tom finds it difficult to fall asleep each night, so he lies awake and listens to the clock strike each hour. One night, he notices that the clock chimes 13 times. When he goes downstairs to investigate this odd occurrence, he discovers a garden in the backyard. Upset that his aunt and uncle had not told him about it, Tom goes outside the next day to explore it further, only to find that it is not there! He returns to the garden each night when the clock chimes 13 and befriends a young girl named Hatty. He begins to notice that Hatty is a different age each night, and the seasons begin to change in the garden as well.

"[The illustrations] bring the story to life, and the passion the illustrator has for the original story shines through both the drawings and the author’s note."

One night, when Tom goes outside for his regular outing, the garden has disappeared. Although initially distraught at this discovery, it leads to a revealing conversation and the start of a new friendship.

Tom transforms throughout this story from sullen and bitter at having to leave his home to more open-minded and inquisitive after discovering the midnight garden. He gains wisdom about time and memory, and learns how to find the positive in situations that initially seem less than ideal. The relationship that Tom develops with Hatty, particularly toward the end, is beautiful. It is through their friendship that the reader is really able to see his growth. Tom’s relationship with Peter is also important to the story, as it is through letters written to his brother that readers learn what Tom has been experiencing and feeling.

The illustrations by Edith are beautifully done and help create the feeling of the space and the character’s emotions. They bring the story to life, and the passion the illustrator has for the original story shines through both the drawings and the author’s note. Edith was able to visit Ms. Pearce, discuss the story with her, and see the actual garden that inspired the original work, which lends a higher level of authenticity to the graphic novel.

Overall, this is a heartwarming fantasy that is easy to get lost in. I have never read the original story, but this adaptation made me want to pick it up and experience more of the magic. The one downfall of the graphic novel --- and perhaps the original story as well --- is that there is not much of an explanation given behind the way the garden works. Perhaps that is purposefully left up to the reader’s imagination or part of the magic, but I was left feeling a little confused at the end.

Reviewed by Kat Baumgartner on April 24, 2018

Tom's Midnight Garden Graphic Novel
Written by Philippa Pearce and illustrated by Edith .