Read the serial garden the complete armitage family stories vmc by Joan Aiken Online


'I wish we'll have two children called Mark and Harriet. And I hope lots of interesting and unusual things will happen to them. It would be nice if they had a fairy godmother, for instance. And a phoenix or something out of the ordinary for a pet. We could have a special day for interesting and unusual things to happen - say, Mondays. But not always Mondays, and not only M'I wish we'll have two children called Mark and Harriet. And I hope lots of interesting and unusual things will happen to them. It would be nice if they had a fairy godmother, for instance. And a phoenix or something out of the ordinary for a pet. We could have a special day for interesting and unusual things to happen - say, Mondays. But not always Mondays, and not only Mondays, or that would get a bit dull'As a result of their mother's honeymoon wish, Mark and Harriet Armitage have a fairy godmother, a pet unicorn, and are prepared for anything life can throw at them (especially, but not always, on a Monday): hatching griffins in the airing cupboard, Latin lessons with a ghost, furious Furies on the doorstep, and an enchanted garden locked inside a cereal packet. Life with the Armitages can be magical, funny, terrifying - but never, ever dull....

Title : the serial garden the complete armitage family stories vmc
Author :
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ISBN : 26175537
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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the serial garden the complete armitage family stories vmc Reviews

  • Maren
    2019-01-24 13:18

    Joan Aiken is one of the most neglected and splendid Children's writers. Best-known for her Wolves Chronicles (starting with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase) about the adventures of children in a darkly Dickensian Alternate world in which James III rules England. The tales in the Serial Garden are not as dark but just as inventive and fanciful. The short stories follow the adventures of the Armitage family. An ordinary British Family of the 1950s however Mrs. Armitage on her honeymoon thought happily ever after sounded a little dull and wished on a wishing stone that things would never be boring but they couldn't have adventures everyday so Mondays were good but not always on Monday because that would be boring too. The adventures focus primarily on the Armitage children, Harriet and Mark who handle a variety of dangerous and magical happenings with a healthy share of creativity and calm British pluck. Whether a Unicorn appears in their garden, or their parents are turned into lady beetles or hatching a Griffin's egg in the linen closet the stories are full of humor and charm.Aiken was one of those remarkable writers who wrote both for children and adults and her children's books are those that can easily be enjoyed by adults.I was delighted to find this volume, which collects all the Armitage stories for the first time.

  • Kate Coombs
    2019-01-26 15:01

    When I read a writer like Joan Aiken, I remember why I'm not giving five stars to a lot of other authors. Over the years, Aiken wrote a number of stories about the Armitage family, an "ordinary" British family who have a unicorn in the garden (shades of James Thurber!). Strange and magical things are especially likely to happen to the Armitages on Mondays, but occasionally they happen on different days, confusing everyone. For supposedly old-fashioned stories, these tales kick the booty out of most of what's being written today! Just to give you one example, watch for the delicious absurdity of two elderly druid brothers fighting over a bathmat made of beard hair, or the fact that the Borrowers-type small people in this book are fairly obnoxious and tacky, not darling. Then there's the poignancy of the title story... But whatever you do, remember that griffins are not only expensive pets, but heavy, and that quince trees are stolen for a reason.

  • ^
    2019-02-07 20:11

    Exceptional. My 'desert island' book. From my childhood I already knew and deeply loved several of the stories published here. But what inexpressible and absolute delight to find other Armitage stories that I was not previously acquainted with. Gaps in my knowledge of Armitage family 'history' have thus now been very satisfyingly filled in.Much as I love my own parents, I should have adored to have had Mr and Mrs Armitage as parents. What fun that would have been! The Armitages are a close-knit family. They are utterly English. These stories (24) were published between 1953 and 2008; yet Mark and Harriet do not age significantly. One unquestioningly accepts as being perfectly normal; because these stories are that good. This is beautiful, imaginative, humourous (sometime satiric), poetic, memorable, read-out-aloudable, absolutely brillient, writing. Don't miss it. RIP Joan Aiken (1924-2004).

  • Monica Edinger
    2019-02-21 20:10

    I was a bit skeptical when I heard about these because I'm not a big reader of short stories (sorry!) and so loved Aiken's children's novels that I didn't think these would hold up. Well, they do more than hold up. They are absolutely magical! Really. The Armitage family comes out of the tradition of families like those of Nesbit or Eager. There was for me even a tinge of the Peterkins in these stories (though, I assure you that these folks are not nearly as bumbling and there is no lady from Philadelphia to bail them out). The humor, often involving magic gone wrong, is in the vein of Diana Wynne Jones. There are sad moments too, say the one of the poor music teacher and another involving a baby goblin.I guess this is what is sometimes called domestic fantasy, stuff that happens with this family, in their small village that just seems to have witches, unicorns, and other magical stuff in the daily life of the place and people. Highly recommended.

  • MB (What she read)
    2019-01-30 12:58

    1/23/09 intial read: If, like me, you've grown up reading Joan Aiken you will enjoy this book. I've always loved the stories featuring the Armitage Family scattered through Joan Aiken's many anthologies for their whimsy and sheer fun. So it was truly wonderful to find them collected together for the first time! I revisted many old favorites and found several new to me. What a treasure!Re-read in 2012.And re-read again 7/22/14.

  • Robin Gaphni
    2019-02-10 18:03

    Thanks goes to our wonderful children's librarian who steered me to this utterly delightful series of short stories. Although many of the stories in Joan Aiken's The Serial Garden were originally published over fifty years ago, they were completely new to me. It's hard to believe I never discovered them before, and I'm sorry that my children (who are now teenagers) never had the pleasure of hearing them read aloud.The Armitages are an English family in the 1950's who live a rather magical life. It all starts when Mrs. Armitage muses to Mr. Armitage on their honeymoon that she's worried that living happily ever after could be a bit boring. Serendipitously she finds a wishing stone and makes a wish that things won't be dull, and that interesting and unusual things will happen to them, perhaps on Mondays, but not always Mondays (because that could get boring too). She also wishes that her future children will have a fairy godmother. And that their house will have at least one ghost. Right then and there, the stories are born.Fast forward twelve years or so, and you meet Harriet and Mark, their two plucky children who manage to handle all that comes their way with grace and humor. There are witches and unicorns and best friends who are six inches tall. Things often go awry, and yet these two continue on, seemingly unperturbed by the chaos that surrounds them. They are curious and fearless, whether they are encountering druid brothers fighting over a bathmat made of human hair, or magical gardens that grow out of cereal boxes. In one story, an invisibility cloak is even mentioned, and these were written years before Harry Potter came on the scene.The stories are imaginative and well written, with surprise twists and turns on almost every page. Children who are avid readers will delight in visiting the world that Aiken has created. But, even more importantly, I think this would be a wonderful read aloud book for reluctant readers. Parents could read a story a night to a child, or teachers could read a story a day to a class. It's a classic example of great storytelling and begs to be read aloud. This is one book I think every family should own!

  • Lari Don
    2019-02-09 20:23

    I may have just rediscovered the origin of my own fiction! This is the complete collection of all the Armitage stories, written by the fantasy writer Joan Aiken throughout her adult entire life, from the age of 18 in the early 1940s until just a few years ago. I read many of these stories in different collections when I was young, but never all together. As always when rereading something which inspired me when I was young, but which is now more of a warm fuzzy memory rather than something sharp and specific, I was a bit hesitant about reading this collection. And the first few stories were almost too short to get my teeth into, and almost devoid of tension - just lovely ideas stretched a little - but very quickly I was hooked again. The stories are about a seemingly ordinary family (English, middle class, boarding schools, maid and cook, etc – ie not ordinary in my world, but nevertheless an ordinary kind of literary Englishness) who constantly have the strangest magical things happen to them: furies on their doorstep, a ghost as a lodger, wizards requisitioning their house, unicorns on the lawn. And the children Harriet and Mark just deal with everything in the same matter of fact way. There are wonderful ideas in here: the same apple causing problems all the way from Garden of Eden to Troy; how a witch copes with cooking children in a new fangled oven; the social awkwardness of going on a day trip with an invisible ghost. Because these are short stories, most ideas are just touched on in passing, which can be frustrating – I would have loved to have spent more time in most of these stories. But you can see the origin of so much subsequent children’s fiction in the stunning imagination of Joan Aiken (and I’m now wondering if the centaur on the doorstep of my very first novel is a direct descendant of the unicorn in the Armitages’ garden…) A brilliant collection, and not just for adults revisiting their youth, or fantasy writers looking for the gold standard - my young daughter loved it too.

  • Ghost Ryter
    2019-02-10 17:04

    Well, I'm ruined for Mondays now. The plain, ordinary, non-Armitage Mondays, that is--the kind that's no different than any other day. But...I don't suppose everyone can be so lucky as the Armitages and get Unicorns appearing on their lawns, or Druids fighting in the exterior bathroom you won in a contest from a soap company.Besides, it wouldn't be any fun to have Furies waiting outside your door, or offended fairy ladies turning your cat into a werewolf. And who wants a Griffin for a pet anyway?...Excuse me. I have to go look for a wishing stone.

  • Cheryl
    2019-01-29 21:14

    Do not take seriously, except the bits that give you pleasure to do so. Anything negative you feel is something that she's tweaking the nose of, satirizing. Maybe fans of Wodehouse/ Jeeves would appreciate? I'm surprised at myself being able to let go of my stick-in-the-mud pragmatism and just dive into these. Think of the firm of Wright, Wright, Wright, Wright, and Wrong. Think of the riddle What's sadder than a lost child? (If you don't know the answer, I feel sad for your child.) I do hope for at least one magical Monday for you anyway, though.

  • Bloodorange
    2019-01-27 17:12

    Disclaimer: a collection of Aiken's stories was one of my favourite books in my late childhood, and I was bound to be partial. I loved The Serial Garden to bits, for a few reasons apart from the excellent writing and the somewhat darkish feel of some of the stories. I love how the author incorporates parents (and what parents!) into their children's adventures; whatever transpires at the Armitage's on Mondays (but sometimes other days, too) is a direct result of Mrs Armitage's honeymoon wish. Parents' characters (and not just Mrs and Mr Armitage) feel real to me. While I can imagine some voices of protests, I find fragments such as the one below - neighbours' reaction to having their three children turned into sheep - cathartic: 'Some peace and quiet will be a wonderful change, and I shan't have to mow the lawn.' To wife: "'Our kids have been turned into sheep, so you won't have to put them to bed. Dig out a long frock and we'll go to the Harvest Ball.' A shriek of delight greeted his words."It's so good to see Aiken practice what she preaches in The Way to Write for Children: An Introduction to the Craft of Writing Children's Literature, giving her stories many levels for parents to enjoy and for children to discover with time. The story about the Furies ('The Apple of Trouble') and the description of adults' behavior when they see them (confessing their shameful deeds) is very entertaining.I love the way Aiken represents magic as a normal, yet still exciting, part of life: Mr Armitage's conflict with a teacher who turns out to be a witch; elderly, irritable 'fairy ladies' from the neighbourhood, who take offence on the slightest provocation; a tame unicorn.On a final, politically current, note: 'Goblin Music' is a great story to introduce children to the immigrant crisis. Serious - a death (accidental) is involved - but effective.

  • Erina Lee
    2019-02-09 13:26

    Okay, yes, this is a collection of children stories. Kind of a guilty indulgence. But this book, set in a household where it's common and even expected to find unicorns trampling the lawn and potatoes turned to beautiful glass apples every Monday (and, very occasionally, Tuesday), is so masterfully crafted that anyone of any age can read and enjoy it. The whimsical, surreal air shrouding these stories is easy to be immersed in, written with just the right amount of pacing and not overly simplified but still easy-to-understand diction. The characters are wonderfully endearing and relatable, from the harried Armitage parents to the sensible siblings Mark and Harriet. What's best about these stories, though, are the subtle yet profoundly meaningful themes woven in. You can either look over them and simply enjoy the book for what it is, or find that there are lessons to learn. There are certainly aspects of them that are atypical of children stories, as in when an elven child was fatally hit by a car when chasing a kitten across a busy street, or an old man finds himself unable to reunite with his long lost love due to a mundane mistake, or a girl is entranced by a mask with a tragic history and her brother and teacher have to snap her out of it. When you take a closer look, though, there are many deeper meanings to derive from this book. Silly and bizarre yet tempered with just the right amount of tragedy and hidden messages, the Serial Garden is one of the rare books that you'll find something new in with each reread and you'll never tire of.

  • Margaret
    2019-01-23 20:00

    Because of a wish Mrs. Armitage made while she and Mr. Armitage were on their honeymoon, Mark and Harriet Armitage and their parents have a series of magical, surprising things happen to them, generally on Mondays: unicorns, witches, spells, fairy godmothers, dragons, griffins, and even twenty-three duchesses and a swimming pool full of pink ice cream. These stories were really delightful, and I can't imagine how I've missed reading any of them all these years (probably my fault for tending to avoid short story collections even by favorite writers). They're quirky and fanciful, and I especially love how, in a very Aikenish way, every odd occurrence is simply taken for granted. I'd find it hard to choose a favorite, but the title story, "The Serial Garden", stays in my mind because of its poignant ending.

  • Clarissa
    2019-01-22 13:08

    Only one and a half stories left, and I don't want it to end.The stories are so funny and delightful, and I say this as a person who dislikes short stories. Perfect mini fantasy tales which were also enjoyed by my six year old.

  • GeraniumCat
    2019-02-04 21:26

    Enchanting. I am not a huge fan of short stories, but in this collection the stories are linked because they are all about the same family, so they read more like an episodic novel. This leads to a couple of inconsistencies, but nothing that matters: you simply accept that they were written over a long period, when the author felt like adding to them. They are a little like the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones, with more than a touch of Harry Potter, but they are light and funny and charming, and I didn't at all want to finish them!

  • Eva Mitnick
    2019-02-11 17:12

    My expectations were very, very high, so it's not surprising that the first two stories didn't instantly meet them. But I kept reading, and by the end of the collection, I was a citizen of that strange little English village inhabited by a large family of 6" people, a unicorn, a multitude of witches (er, I mean old fairy ladies), druids, and plenty of ordinary folks who mostly manage to live and let live, so far as their magical neighbors are concerned. Lucky, lucky Mark and Harriet, to be able to face up to amazing magical people and situations with plenty of breezy aplomb - and to have parents tolerant of, if not always thrilled with, the chaos that magic can bring. These are the kind of stories that make the drab sidewalks and humdrum houses of one's own neigborhood sparkle with the possibility of magic. And although most of it is benign, some of it might be unknowing or careless of the human world and some might be altogether malevolent. As far as that last goes, the worst things that happen in these stories are brought about not by evil magic but by human error, as when Mrs. Armitage horrifyingly destroys the last known garden in which Mr. Johansen's love is trapped (luckily a chance of a happy ending comes in a later story) or when a gnome child is accidentally run over and killed. These tragedies shook me up badly and reminded me that life, even in lighthearted children's fantasy stories, has a way of being unexpected.These are quirky, unpredictable, and veddy British stories. I'm devastated that now (unless more are found in a trunk somewhere) I've read all the Armitage stories that exist. I'll just have to read them all again someday. Recommended for fans of E. Nesbit, Edward Eager, and any fantasy that features ordinary kids in magical situations.

  • Carmine
    2019-02-12 17:59

    Joan Aiken was probably my favorite author as a middle grader and I read it all from the light and humorous 'Arabel and Mortimer' to the psychological thriller 'Nightfall' and all 'the Wolves of Whilloughby Chase' in between, but I had never read any of the Armitage family stories and don't remember my library having them. It was a real treat to discover these and read them. What fun. Clearly would appeal to fans of E. Nesbit or Edward Eager and others who enjoy light family fantasy. Due to a wish Mrs. Armitage made when she married that life never be dull, the absolutely ordinary Armitage family frequently experiences odd occurrences on Mondays (and maybe once on a Tuesday)such as waking up to find a Unicorn in the garden and moments later a knock at the door from an official to collect money for failing to register their Unicorn. Or the day a school of wizards tried to take over there house for a school in retaliation for Mr. Armitage writing a bad review of the wizard Headmaster's book. Fabulous dead-pan humor.I feel like I 'discovered' Joan Aiken completely based on last name- it starts with an A and I would browse my library's shelves in order starting with A. I read more from authors with names earlier in the alphabet than later as a result of how my local public library was laid out.

  • Kate Pierson
    2019-02-17 19:08

    In her introduction Joan Aiken's daughter, Lizza, says, "Thanks to an extraordinarily wide range of reading in her early years, and her belief in the benefits of a powerful imagination, Joan was prepared for almost anything. Brought up on a diet of Dickens, Dumas, Austen, and the Brontes, Kipling, Stevenson, Nesbitt, Trollope, Scott, Victor Hugo, and many, many more, she was equipped, like the hero of a myth, with the tools, or in her case, the imaginative power, to meet any contingency . . . ."INDEED! I read several of these stories at nightfall. I'd finish a story, look up, and *poof* it would be dark outside. Each time, I'd get so engrossed in the story that time passed unnoticed. These stories are THAT good. Although I really, really like them all, two stories are my special favorites. One is the title story: "The Serial Garden." Oh! The ending! The other is "The Ghostly Governess," where Harriet discovers Miss Allison, a Victorian era governess, haunting the house the Armitage family had taken "for August." The idea--a Victorian era governess teaching modern children Latin prepositions in the middle of the night--just thrills me.The first Armitage story, "Yes, but Today is Tuesday" was sold to the BBC Children's Hour programme in 1944. All of the stories here have that 1940s-50s feel to them, and they are all splendid

  • Laurie
    2019-01-23 14:11

    1. Laura Miller recommends as "Great for reading aloud to younger children" so maybe we'll try it. Updated: We're reading this aloud to Iris at bedtime, and it's quite good (only a few stories we haven't liked). J.K. Rowling clearly owes a serious debt to Joan Aiken. (Not a plagiarism-style debt, mind you, it's just the influence is clear.)3. Finished! We read the last story last night. And as I type, Iris is curled up on the couch, apparently planning to re-read the entire book herself. Highly recommended if you like Diana Wynne Jones, J. K. Rowling, or Joan Aiken. While some stories are stronger than others (the Borrowers-like Perrow family were not a good addition), we enjoyed this book tremendously. Iris and Matthew learned a large number of useful Anglicisms, as well. It's fascinating reading chronologically arranged stories that were written over a 60-year-period.(Parents who might read aloud, be aware that the stories start off a reasonable length for one per night, but then get much longer. Also, it's pretty long-winded stuff for reading aloud. But great fun, with humor for both children and adults.)

  • Helen
    2019-02-20 21:18

    While other girls were reading Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, I was reading Joan Aiken and Madeline L'Engle. The real life girls and their problems with periods and big sisters were all very well, and I enjoyed reading about them, but the girls and boys with pet unicorns and the ability to travel in time, well. They added something to my life I didn't have to worry about. Their's was a world I could escape into and forget all about the horrors of middle school. So it was nice to see that all of the Armitage Family stories had been collected, and I could escape being a Mom and be that 12/13 year old girl again for a couple of days, The stories, which Aiken began writing in the fifties, hold up, they don't feel dated, and I was never bored or felt like the stories, in which the fantastical can at time be fun and escapist, but at others dark and threatening, were talking down to their audience. People and animals die, are threatened. People steal, and cheat. But they also have ghosts for godparents, ride unicorns, and never have a boring life. And that's good reading, at any age.

  • Felicity
    2019-01-22 16:27

    I've been a fan of Joan Aiken for a while but I had no idea that she had written some short stories until a fellow good reader recommended them to me. They are about the Armitage family who lead an interesting life where strange things happen to them on mondays and they own a unicorn! The village they live in also has many interesting inhabitants who cast a variety of spells which have an effect on them! Most of the stories happen to the Armitages. Especially the children Harriet and Mark but a couple involve the music teacher Mr Johnson which are very poignant .I loved all of the stories and would have loved them as a child. Aiken's writing is brilliant and she manages to combine fantasy and realism effortlessly including life lessons without being patronising which is no mean feat.A brilliant collection for adults and children. Be warned that the titular is on the depressing side...

  • Res
    2019-02-12 15:00

    The short-story collection in which strange and magical things happen to the Armitage family, but only on Mondays. All together in a collection is not the way to read these stories; you get inured to their peculiar charm. But every time I left the book behind for a bit and came back to it, the first story I read after the break would win me over all over again.One of the things I like best about this is the way the characters treat mysterious happenings the same way they treat mundane ones, so that when Harriet's godfather, a ghost, comes to pick her up at boarding school, she's mostly worried about getting a reputation among the other girls for being odd, and when Mark is the victim of a curse, his mother is upset because now he'll never be able to fix the oven door the way he promised.

  • Autumn
    2019-02-12 19:01

    I loved this collection of short stories. They deal with the children in the Armitage family, where Mondays are never normal days (sometimes unicorns turn up in the backyard, etc.) This is wonderful writing. Fanciful enough to hold the attention of children, but clever enough to delight adults. Creative and utterly enjoyable. I had a smile on my face through almost the entire book, although one story nearly moved me to tears. I loved picking this book up and reading one story at a time while my kids were in the bath, or while I ate breakfast, etc. I plan to purchase this book to share with my boys as they get a little older.

  • (F.O.P.) Friend of Pixie
    2019-01-27 18:03

    Why abandoned? I've read other Joan Aiken books and liked them, but this one is a later one (1970s) and rather cynical about parent-child relationships. I don't mind that per se, but Logan isn't old enough to understand the humor, which often focuses on how glad the parents are to be away from their children. The parents are portrayed as fairly idiotic and self-involved. You can tell it's the 70s when at a party, a prize given to the mother is 100 cigarettes. Anyway. the whole feel of the book is just irritating, even at my age. Many other books are better.

  • Samantha
    2019-01-30 16:04

    This is just marvellous. I love Joan Aiken. These stories are so inventive and gentle and funny but also have a most sensible and practical heroine and hero in Harriet and Mark. Mrs Armitage is also a very sensible woman, and it's her wish to make her "happy ever after" of life with her husband and two children interesting that means that the family always had something exciting happen. But Mrs Armitage also has the sense to be out of the way when the worst excesses of interesting take place :-)The stories are strange and the imagery powerful, I loved them.

  • Elisabeth Wheatley
    2019-02-11 17:08

    This book is full from cover to cover with funny, magical tales safe for the whole family. I started reading a few of the stories to my brothers, and they loved it. The only scary story is the one about "Kitty Snickersee," which was very dark and morbid for an Armitage story and I'm not sure why it was so heavy. Nonetheless, the rest of these stories are a welcome break from heavier reading and I would recommend it to...well, everyone.

  • Charlotte
    2019-02-11 18:22

    Almost as good as I remember these stories, but in a different way. The best title is "Armitage, Armitage, Fly Away Home." Say it a few times. I think it might be a magical phrase. But the best story is the one where the grandmother won't sell her quince tree to a nasty witch, and then the witch turns into a cat and likes being a cat much better than being a person. Because you get to sleep all day. The one with the magic bathmat woven from beard hair that's never been cut is good too.

  • Julie
    2019-01-23 16:23

    Wow. I thought this sounded right up my alley, but the stories made less and less sense as the collection progressed. The author also seemed to feel the need to get darker as time went on and by the end even the death of a little girl is just glossed over like it's no big deal. I'm also extremely disappointed that the princess in the garden story was never really resolved. Ugh.

  • Nancy
    2019-01-28 21:02

    Liked this very much. Loved the independence and resourcefulness of the children. The only thing I was slightly disappointed in was that there wasn't any mention of Mondays in the later chapters which lost a bit of the charm for me.

  • Margaret Muirhead
    2019-02-20 18:12

    Abe, age 8, highly recommends this book. Abe likes how the Armitage family is never very surprised when magic happens. The story called "Broomsticks and Sardines" about a teacher who turns her students into sardines is especially funny.

  • Jessica
    2019-01-29 14:07

    A friend of mine, Beth Adams, illustrated this book cover.I must read this book now.One must always read Joan Aiken.She's thrilling & scary & beautiful.