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The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories
     

The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories

4.3 3
by Joan Aiken
 

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"In a singularly important publishing even, the first complete collection of Aiken’s 24 beloved Armitage cycle of stories appears here for the first time. The family who dwells in and out of magical worlds transcends fantasy and enters the world of classic, entrancing literature. Belongs on every child’s bookshelf. For all ages."
Smithsonian

Overview

"In a singularly important publishing even, the first complete collection of Aiken’s 24 beloved Armitage cycle of stories appears here for the first time. The family who dwells in and out of magical worlds transcends fantasy and enters the world of classic, entrancing literature. Belongs on every child’s bookshelf. For all ages."
Smithsonian Magazine Notable Books for Children 2008

"For sheer charm it’s hard to beat these wonderful, dead-pan comic tales about one family’s adventures—nearly always on a Monday—with ghosts, witches, time travel, the Furies and every sort of magic."
—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World

"Buy it to read to your kids, and you’ll find yourself sneaking tastes on the sly; a little Aiken is a fine thing to have in your system at any age."
Salon.com

"Joan Aiken’s invention seemed inexhaustible, her high spirits a blessing, her sheer storytelling zest a phenomenon. She was a literary treasure, and her books will continue to delight for many years to come."
—Philip Pullman

“The best kind of writer, strange and spooky and surprising, never sentimental or whimsical.”
—Kelly Link

"Gathered under one cover from several Aiken collections, the magical, eccentric and very British Armitage family reappears in a collection of 24 stories, four never before published. The Armitages’ wacky magic (usually a Monday occurrence) and that of their fantastical town, a place filled with witches and magical beings, rises from the pages when matters go slightly awry, in the manner of Edward Eager and E. Nesbit."
Kirkus Reviews

"Readers of all ages have the opportunity to enjoy some of the best writing by one of the most superb and timeless fantasy writers."
Green Man Review

"The Armitage’s world grows richer as it is extended. This is a collection of stories which allow—in fact demand—the reader joins in with their own imagination and remakes the story inside their own head. Aiken’s pragmatism shows through in her stories. Instead of remaining in or reflecting upon the past like some of her contemporaries, they show an author making the best of the world and coming out ahead with humor and imagination.”
January Magazine

"Each of the tales brims with old-fashioned adventure and charm. An excellent way to show Harry Potter fans that magic can come in small doses too."
Author Magazine

This is the first complete collection of Joan Aiken’s beloved Armitage stories—and it includes four new, unpublished stories. After Mrs. Armitage makes a wish, the Armitage family has “interesting and unusual” experiences every Monday (and the occasional Tuesday). The Board of Incantation tries to take over their house to use as a school for young wizards; the Furies come to stay; and a cutout from a cereal box leads into a beautiful and tragic palace garden. Charming and magical, the uncommon lives of the Armitage family will thrill and delight readers young and old. Includes Joan Aiken’s “Prelude” from Armitage, Armitage, Fly Away Home, as well as introductions from Joan Aiken’s daughter, Lizza Aiken, and best-selling author Garth Nix. Illustrated by Andi Watson.


Best known for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken (1924-2004) wrote over a hundred books and won the Guardian and Edgar Allan Poe awards. After her first husband’s death, she supported her family by copyediting at Argosy magazine and an advertising agency before turning to fiction. She went on to write for Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Vanity Fair, Argosy, Women’s Own, and many others.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781931520980
Publisher:
Small Beer Press
Publication date:
10/01/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
591,177
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Joan Aiken (1924-2004) began writing the Armitage Family stories when she was still in her teens and sold the first story, "Yes, but Today Is Tuesday," to the BBC Children's Hour programme in 1944. This and another five stories about the Armitage children, Mark and Harriet, and their encounters with everyday magic, were included in her first published collection, All You've Ever Wanted, in 1953. Over the years Joan continued to add to their adventures, and the stories appeared in six further collections of fantastic tales during the next four decades. For the American collection Armitage, Armitage, Fly Away Home in 1968, Joan added a prelude introducing the Armitage parents on their honeymoon, and ensuring, by means of a wishing ring, that despite living "happily ever after" the family would never, never be bored. Before she died in 2004 she had completed four new Armitage stories, and had just sent them to her typist, together with all those from previous collections, with a letter saying that she hoped to try and have all of them gathered together and published in one volume. Here it is at last!

Joan was the daughter of writer Conrad Aiken, who was divorced from her mother, Jessie McDonald, when Joan was five. When Jessie married his friend, the writer Martin Armstrong, in 1929, the family moved from Joan's birthplace in the town of Rye to a tiny cottage in a village on the other side of Sussex. Armstrong was nearly fifty and had no children until Joan's half brother David was born in 1931, and she says: "I was rather nervous of him and he, probably rightly, found most of my remarks silly." Nevertheless he was "immensely entertaining, both witty and erudite,"and life at the cottage was graceful in spite of the family's poverty, as Armstrong depended for their living on what he wrote. In those days there was no running water, it was drawn from a well, and no electricity, but oil lamps and fires to prepare daily. Joan always said that these formative years were lonely but happy; her friends were books.

Her brother John and sister Jane, twelve and seven years older, were sent away to school, but Jessie, who took a B.A. at McGill in her native Canada, and a Master's at Radcliffe in 1912, before marrying Conrad, was well able to teach Joan at home, and was herself a great reader. Armstrong was also an enormous influence on Joan's reading--his house was full of books--and on her writing, both by example and in his comments on her early work. All through the 1920s and 1930s Armstrong was producing novels, biographies, and poems, but perhaps his greatest gift was for short stories, and it is for his fantastic, often ghostly, and wildly imaginative stories that he will probably be best remembered. In the late 1930s the BBC invited him to write for their Children's Hour programmes, and he produced a series of stories called "Said the Cat to the Dog" about a middle-class English family and their rather extraordinary talking pets, which became an enormous success.

Joan was about sixteen and, as she says, "in a snobbish sort of teenage rebellious mood, and it seemed to me that they were terribly silly." In fact they probably were intentionally so, but this only reflects the difference between Joan's attitude to writing for children, and what her stepfather considered would be suitable (and indeed moral) fare for the young. "Silly" had been the most withering criticism he had levelled at her own early work, and this had clearly rankled.

"Just for fun I thought I would write a kind of skit on them, so I wrote a story, called 'Yes, but Today Is Tuesday,' calling my family Armitage instead of Armstrong, in which a lot of totally unexpected and horrendous things happened, sent it to the BBC, and to my amazement they took it!"

Meet the Author

Best known for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken (1924-2004) wrote over a hundred books. After her first husband's death, she supported her family by copyediting at Argosy magazine and an advertising agency, then began publishing fiction. She went on to write for Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Vanity Fair, Argosy, Women's Own, and many others.

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