Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken, illustrated by Andi Watson
Joan Aiken's short stories are always bathed in moonlight - fantastical, horrifying, haunting, and gently humorous. In The Serial Garden, all the stories of the eccentrically normal Armitage family are collected for the first time - plus four new stories.
The cons: There are several disconcerting typos in the collection. Also, although it's implied in the introduction (at least to me) that the new stories continue the story of Mr. Johansen, this is not the case. The artwork is rather...odd. The cover illustrations of Harriet and Mark make them look like rather ill adults, while the black and white chapter heading illustrations are extremely childish.
The pros: This is Joan Aiken! The Armitages! Wonderful, magical stories, all together in one place! The four new stories are the chilling "Kitty Snickersnee", hauntingly tragic "Goblin Music", classicly Aiken "The Chinese Dragon", and "Don't Go Fishing on Witches' Day" which shows Mark and Harriet moving into the future.
Verdict: Sadly, Joan Aiken has fallen out of style with most modern children. Poor things, they have deprived childhoods and don't know it. However, if you take the time to booktalk it to those certain kids who will appreciate it, there will be an audience. If you have the budget for a little indulgence, go for it!
ISBN: 978-1931520577; Published October 2008 by Big Mouth House; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library; Purchased for my private collection