This is a slow-paced, magical story. Is Helen a ghost, a dream, or just Tilly's imagination? The story never says, gently hinting that Helen was the friend Tilly needed to help her through her worries. With the arrival of brisk, cheerful Grammy and her new friend Susila she doesn't need Helen any more. The story is full of lyrical descriptions of the garden, winter, Christmas, and the foxes. The black and white art that delicately brings out the magic of the story is perfect, capturing the delicate imagination of Tilly and the beauty of the garden.
It's a very British story, with words like "lorry" and "metre" as well as the gentle unfolding of magic and mystery, reminiscent of Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden. This won't deter reader who love gently mysterious stories and will appreciate the art and beauty of the story and illustrations.
Verdict: A perfect length, 220 pgs, for intermediate readers. Hand this one to kids who enjoy beautiful language and description and will sympathize with Tilly's shyness at school and her private worries.
ISBN: 9781402277306; Published October 2012 by Sourcebooks; ARC provided by the publisher, purchased for the library (ARC added to summer reading prizes)