Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.
"The striking of the grandfather clock became a familiar sound to Tom, especially in the silence of those nights when everyone else was asleep. He did not sleep. He would go to bed at the usual time, and then lie awake or half-awake for hour after hour."
Time is often seen as a constant, a benchmark against which our lives are led and lived out. At various stages, however, its passage can feel protracted or elongated whilst at other points it seems to elapse hastily. These inconsistencies form the backdrop for Tom’s Midnight Garden a modern classic that since first publication has offered profound comment upon the nature of childhood and maturation.
There is a crushing sense of claustrophobia for Tom who has been condemned to spend the holidays confined to his Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan’s flat due to fears he might have contracted his brother, Peter’s, measles. Forbidden to leave the flat, Tom feels isolated and alone. Time passes excruciatingly slowly for him and with neither physical nor mental stimulation, he finds himself struggling to sleep. It is whilst lying awake one night that he hears the grandfather clock, in the communal entrance hall for the flats, striking thirteen. Setting out to investigate, Tom opens the backdoor with the intention of letting in moonlight so as to better see the clock-face. In so doing, he discovers a garden tempting and inviting him outside. It is radically different to the backyard that his Aunt and Uncle informed him belonged to the property.
So begins a nightly pilgrimage into the garden where a friendship blossoms with Hattie a little girl from a bygone era who ages each time Tom meets her. As the two friends get to know one another, they step beyond the confines of the garden, an allegory for the way in which the world of childhood gradually extends outwards. An unexpected twist solves the mystery of the relationship between Tom and Hattie and brings the modern and the older ways of life into the union making for a moving and memorable end. At once thoughtful and thought-provoking, the story reflects on issues of nurture, imagination, the passage of time and the central role that childhood experience exerts throughout our lifetimes.