The Night Garden
The Night Garden

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Annotation: It's the spring of 1945, and twelve-year-old Franny's quiet existence on a Vancouver Island farm is interrupted by a series of unsettling events. Does her father's mysterious wish-granting garden hold the key to getting everyone out of trouble?
Catalog Number: #149428
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 292 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-374-30452-1 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99366-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-374-30452-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99366-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016043678
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Set on a remote farm on Vancouver Island in WWII and narrated by adopted nascent writer Franny, this madcap comedy features a host of eccentric characters, a UFO, a ghost, a magic garden, and a mystery involving a missing top-secret military airplane. Horvath embraces the chaos, and her bright prose and unerring sense of timing keep pages turning until the final, transcendently profound scene.
Kirkus Reviews
A remote Canadian farm contains a magic garden. It's 1945, and 12-year-old Franny lives with her adoptive parents, Sina and Old Tom, on a lovely rambling farm. World War II hasn't affected them much until Sina agrees to take charge of three siblings, Winifred, Wilfred, and Zebediah, while their mother goes up to the nearby air base to prevent their father, Fixing Bob, who works as a mechanic for a secret type of plane, the Argot, from doing "something stupid." Sina sees a UFO, Zebediah receives mysterious letters, and when Fixing Bob steals the Argot, only the wish-granting abilities of the night garden can save him. If the night garden feels like deus ex machina in summary it does even more so in reality, as it isn't referenced in any way until Page 39, and its magic isn't mentioned until Page 144. Franny's first-person narration is wry and intelligent, infused with Horvath's trademark humor, and the ending of the book is sweetly meaningful, but the exposition takes so long, and the plot shoots off in so many unexplained directions, that many readers won't make it that far. Characters are white by default. Fans of Horvath's Newbery Honor book, Everything on a Waffle (2001), will be disappointed; this one isn't nearly as good. (Fiction. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly
The witty voice of 12-year-old Franny drives this historical adventure, set during WWII in the coastal town of Sooke in British Columbia. Adopted through a -series of mistakes,- aspiring writer Franny lives with a sculptor named Sina and her husband, Old Tom, in a grand, rambling house with extensive gardens (including the off-limits -night garden,- which possesses magical properties) until the war intrudes on their peace. When a dramatically weepy neighbor, nicknamed Crying Alice, needs someone to care for her children, Sina takes in the energetic Winifred, Wilfred, and Zebediah, then adds a supremely untalented and grubby neighbor, Gladys, as a cook. Amid the chaos of the household, Sina sees UFOs, a hermit makes himself useful, a mystery involving Crying Alice-s husband and a spy plane emerges, and the night garden reveals its powers of wish fulfillment. While the narrative sometimes gets lost in complicated plot turns, the quirky characters and Franny-s dry-humored narration stand out as Horvath invokes classic literary elements of orphans, secret gardens, and found families. Ages 9-12. Agent: Marie Campbell, Transatlantic Literary. (Sept.)

School Library Journal
Gr 4-6World War II hasn't affected 12-year-old Franny's rustic, idyllic life on Vancouver Island, BC. While her mother Sina sculpts, she writes and explores the many gardens tended by her father, Old Tom. But there is one garden he forbids Franny to enter: the ancient night garden. Legend says that a person can make one wish while in the night garden and it will come true, but that wish cannot be undone. Contented Franny has little interest in wishes until the family's peace is disrupted: a neighbor suddenly leaves her three children with Sina while she goes off to prevent her husband, a mechanic who works on top-secret military planes, from doing "something terrible." The neighbor kids and Franny become embroiled in the mystery surrounding the mechanic when letters from him arrive containing ominous clues to his intent. The children see the night garden as their only chance to help, so they defy Old Tom and test the garden's legend. Franny's first-person narration, rich with droll insights, balances the plot's tension and reveals her awareness of the extraordinary magic that envelops her farm, "alive and breathing with suppressed something." National Book Award winner Horvath writes with accessible eloquence, making what would be fantastical in another setting quite plausible on this island populated with whimsical, winsome characters. VERDICT Thoughtful, hilarious, and moving; repeated readings reveal even more to appreciate in this superbly crafted tale. An essential purchase for all middle grade collections.Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* The inimitable Horvath's latest blends history, magic, and realism with a heavy dose of whimsy. WWII brings small changes to bucolic Vancouver Island, where 12-year-old Franny lives with her adoptive parents, Sina and Old Tom. The biggest change comes in the form of the sudden arrival of three siblings: Winifred, Wilfred, and Zebediah. Concerned that all is not well with their father at the nearby military base, their mother dumps them on Sina and Old Tom, upending Franny's quiet writing time. Toss in the incompetent chef Gladys, mysterious letters from the sibling's father, and a night garden that can grant each person only one wish, and Horvath has quite the story going. Eschewing literary convention, Horvath does not locate Franny at the helm of these adventures. Like the readers, Franny is a participant in the happenings, and this positioning lends a more leisurely pace to the novel. Though that may narrow the story's appeal, Horvath infuses her novel with such heart, zest, and humor in the small moments that she's created a book her devoted fan base will cherish. Notably, the denizens of Vancouver Island have a delicious lack of separation between adult and child l are wholeheartedly curious, beautifully flawed, and deeply amusing. Perfect for fans of Jeanne Birdsall's Penderwicks books or Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society series.
Word Count: 56,773
Reading Level: 5.5
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.5 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 192415 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:14.0 / quiz:Q71879
Lexile: 830L
Guided Reading Level: O

It is World War II and Franny Whitekraft lives with her parents, Sina and Old Tom, on a farm on Vancouver Island. Their peaceful life is interrupted when their neighbor, Crying Alice, begs Sina to watch her children while she goes to visit her husband at the military base because she suspects he's up to no good. Soon after the children move in, letters arrive from their father that suggest he's about to do something to change their lives. Can the forbidden night garden that supposedly grants everyone one wish help? And if so, at what cost?A Margaret Ferguson Book

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