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Lit Circles - Primary: Tom's Midnight Garden

About the book

undefinedTom's Midnight Garden by e

'Afterwards, Aunt Gwen tried to describe to her husband that second parting between them. "He ran up to her, and they hugged each other as if they had known each other for years and years, instead of only having met for the first time this morning. '


Tom is sent away to stay with his aunt and uncle for the summer holidays. With no garden or children to play with, he feels lonely and unhappy, until one night he hears the clock striking thirteen and discovers a secret garden where he makes a new friend, Hatty. Yet it soon becomes clear that his new-found friend is living in another time altogether, and to her, Tom is a sort of ghost.

GENRE: Fantasy, Classic


  • Friendship
  • Loss
  • Aging
  • Time

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Extension material

undefinedPhilippa Pearce, British book editor and children’s writer (born Jan. 23, 1920, Great Shelford, near Cambridge, Eng.—died Dec. 21, 2006, London, Eng.), was best known for her Carnegie Medal-winning novel Tom’s Midnight Garden (1958), a mystical tale of friendship and growing up in which 10-year-old Tom befriends Hatty, a girl from the past whom he meets in a magical garden that appears at night only when the grandfather clock strikes 13. 
The classic story was filmed in 1999 and was later adapted for the stage. Pearce’s other books included the semiautobiographical Minnow on the Say (1955), The Children of the House (1968), the Whitbread Prize-winning The Battle of Bubble and Squeak (1978), and The Little Gentleman (2004). She also wrote numerous short stories and book reviews. Pearce was made OBE in 1997.

Questions for your circle

  • How soon in the story did you realise what might be happening, and who Mrs Bartholomew is? What gave you a clue to this?
  • Tom and Hatty quarrel about whether they are ghosts—do you think one of them is? Or both of them?
  • To keep in touch with his brother Peter about his adventures in the garden Tom writes a letter every day. And to change arrangements at short notice about Tom’s journey home, his aunt and uncle send a telegram to his parents. How might this be a different story today, with mobile phones, text messaging, tablets and emails? Could Tom have sent pictures from the midnight garden?  
  • Tom asked Hatty to hide her skates for him to find. What might you hide and where, for someone to find in 50 years’ time? What would you say in a note to go with it? 

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