Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce –winner of the Carnegie Medal
Posted by hollybookscoops on September 24, 2009
1958 winner of the Carnegie Medal in Literature. I thought originally that I had a hard time getting into this book because it was old, and then I realized I liked a lot of old books, so I started thinking about what was wrong. I finally figured out that the Carnegie Medal is the UK’s prestigious literary medal, and so, I simply needed to turn my brain towards England, instead of Canada, and the book started to make more sense to me.
When Tom’s brother is taken ill with measles, Tom has to go live with Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan in a small apartment, in quarantine. As Tom yearns for the outdoors and playmates, he stumbles upon a secret world as he travels back in time each night to when the ancient estate was a home with a garden. Tom gets more and more entwined in the friendship he forms with a girl named Hatty until he is determined to change times forever and live in the past.
I enjoyed this read, although I think that young readers of today, especially American, might have a hard time making the transition to this foreign and byegone era. I realized how much immunizations have changed the way we live. When was the last time you heard of someone being in quarantine? I’m sure glad that I’ve never had to be in quarantine, but it really makes you think about flu epidemics and other things that could lead to the return of quarantines. I guess it’s best to be prepared to not be able to always get everything we want right when we want it. Boy what a change that would be for our immediate gratification society!
As an interesting note, I read this book and wrote this review before H1N1 quarantines at the beginning of the summer, but believe me I sure was thinking about this book when the virus first became known. How do you think books can prepare us for major health epidemics, as some scientists have predicted will inevitably occur?