Working in a library can sometimes be a little bit like going into a bakery while you are on a diet. There are so many cool titles that come across my desk every day and not nearly enough time to read everything I see. One of my (many) 2015 new year’s resolutions is to try and catch up on reading all of the cool books I saw on the shelves and put on my “must read” list in 2014.
One of those titles was a children’s book that came out back in March. Every time I saw it, it was either being checked out or put on hold. Last week it finally came back and I was able to grab it… boy am I glad I did.
The Night Gardener is a little bit dark, pretty scary and asks the question, ‘what is the difference between a lie and a story?’. How great is that? Molly and Kip are a brother and sister who have seemingly been orphaned. Down on their luck and hoping to find a new home Molly finds work in a place called the Sour Woods but as they approach their destinations birds stop singing and no one wants to help them find their way. What mysteries await them at Windsor estates? Is it their refuge or their undoing?
Pittsburgh’s very own Jonathan Auxier has written a wonderful little book that gives the reader the chance to consider the difference between our wants and our needs. The thing that we hope and long for, the answer to all of our problems… what if it isn’t really the answer after all? What if it is part of the problem to begin with.
When Kip and Molly first arrive, they are immediately turned away. Molly is told by the lady of the house that she doesn’t want any servants. Auxier has immediately set us up: we know that there is something wrong at Windsor, something evil even, but we also know that casting these two children out into the world alone and uncared for will put them in danger’s way. Cheering for Molly when she convinces Constance Windsor to take them in means that we have saved them from their fate as orphans only to throw them into the lion’s den. A great deal of the book does this, causing you to double back and realize that the thing you wanted for the characters has caused them even more trouble. When Molly gets her wishes fulfilled you are grateful until you realize that she has been immobilized and is too afraid to act. It is Kip, her younger brother, who realizes that getting the thing you want handed to you might be dangerous.
While it is a children’s book, this was a great creepy little read that kept me up late as I tried to finish it. Thought provoking in its use of villains and heroes The Night Gardener is a great book for kids and adults who need to learn a lesson about wants and needs.