In the past few weeks, I have mentioned The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. Shortly after beginning to read it for myself, I knew it would be our next read aloud. We recently finished reading it aloud and I felt that I needed to come back and share a bit more in depth about this read.
The Night Gardener is Mr. Auxier second novel. (Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes was his first children’s novel and our new read aloud.) This Victorian era ghost story follows Molly and Kip, sister and brother orphans, as they try to make their way in the world. Molly manages to find a job serving the Windsor family. As they arrive at the Windors’ home, Molly and Kip quickly realize that something is….odd, unwelcoming, eery. But what choice do they have?
“A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens ’em. And a lie does the opposite. It helps you hide.”The Night Gardener – Jonathan Auxier
The Windsor family is slowly changing over time. A tree grows and thrives and lives. There is the night man who tends the tree. Wishes are granted, wants are fulfilled, lies are told, and courage is found.
As we have read of Molly and Kip, we have had some lovely and deep discussions. Very quickly my children noticed the lies and how they were being justified. We were able to talk about having our deepest desires met and would we be truly satisfied afterwards? What does it mean when you are so focused on your wants that you ignore what you need? That you become so captivated you don’t see what is happening? To be consumed with the forbidden? Greed. Desire. Selfishness. Fear. Courage. Character. Sacrifice. Sin. Truth. So many moments to speak with our children about these things.
This is a ghost story and there are intense moments through out the book. Inappropriate? No. There is death and encounters with the Night Gardener. Exciting. Thrilling. Suspenseful. But inn the end character and courage and redemption shine through.
The Night Gardener is geared for ages ten and up. As a read alone, I think that is a spot on recommendation. As a read aloud in our home, ages from 5 to adult enjoyed this read. Sam, 5, thoroughly enjoyed The Night Gardener and was constantly asking for me to read one more chapter. He kept his dad up to speed on the reading sessions Dad missed. Sam found the book exciting; not scary at all. I definitely recommend it as a read aloud.
If you are looking for books to read aloud in 2015, take a look at The Night Gardener. If you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.