Those of you familiar with my Books at Bedtime posts know how much my daughter loves the work of Eva Ibbotson, so it is with some hesitation that I post on yet another book of hers — this time, The Secret of Platform 13 (illustrated by Sue Porter, Thorndike Press, 1994.) We started this book a little while back after completing Ibbotson’s The Beasts of Clawstone Castle. It’d be fair to say my daughter and I are on an Ibbotson bender right now. It’s funny because my daughter has absolutely no interest in the Harry Potter books (unlike her older brother,) and yet she is very much a devoted fan of Ibbotson!
At any rate, The Secret of Platform 13, is about that other magical platform at Kings Cross Station in London where a ‘gump’ opens up once every nine years for nine days to allow denizens to come and go from the mysterious mist-laden place known as The Island. The Island is governed by a kindly King and Queen and is inhabited by magical creatures like wizards, hags, and ogres in a literal island paradise. The King and Queen have a baby and the child’s three nurses take it to the opening of the gump and in an unfortunate accident, the child is kidnapped by a spoilt rich woman in London who cannot have children and is spirited away from the nurses, who alas, return to the Island via the gump empty-handed. Nine years later, at the next opening of the gump, a group of Islanders at behest of the royal couple go out to London to rescue the child. A motley crew made up of an aging wizard, a fey, a one-eyed ogre and a young hag — the group has their work cut out for them. The child has grown up to be a rather nasty spoiled piece of business himself — much like his mother — and it will take a lot of convincing to get this child returned to his parents.
My daughter and I have been reading this book fairly regularly in the evenings. Once, when I finished a chapter with a cliffhanger sort-of-ending, she couldn’t help but read ahead on her own after I’d left the room to see what happens next. While I still very much enjoy the experience of reading aloud to my daughter, I was pleased to hear that she was so enchanted by the book and its engaging plot that she’d gone and read ahead for herself! Have you had that experience reading to your child at bedtime? It somehow makes the reading experience all that more rewarding as a parent!