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Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

AR Level: 4.9
AR Points: 12.0
AR Quiz Number: 166191
Page Count: 350

It's a cold, dark, and rainy day here in Central Florida (yes that does happen from time to time) and I am dying to get home to curl up with a hot cup of tea and a good book. This gloomy weather brings a favorite book of mine to mind, The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. This book first caught my eye at our 2015 Fall book fair. With the slightly spooky cover, I picked it up originally to make sure that it wouldn't be too scary for my students. A few chapters in and I could not get enough.

Set in the dark and gloomy Victorian era English countryside, we follow two orphans (Kip and Molly) on their way to a decrepit manor house where they intend to work. Upon arriving and securing a position with the Windsor family, they slowly begin to realize that all is not well at their new home. With a mysterious and menacing tree growing into the side of the home, haunting noises and an unwanted visitor in the night, and the physical weakness of the Windsor family, orphans Molly and Kip begin to unravel the secrets of the house and the burden it bares.

This book is spooky and will have readers flipping through pages as fast as they can towards the end. I especially appreciate the moral of the story and what was discovered to be the root of all of their troubles. I am not typically one for spooky or scary things, but I loved this book.

After book talking it, I can't keep it on the shelf either. When presenting it to my students, I play up how this book was a bit spooky to me personally and I tell them I am not sure they should read it before bed and etc. I've found that the best way to get kids to want something is to tell them I am not sure they can have it or handle it. They are eager to prove under-estimating teachers wrong, and I love it when they take on that challenge.  

I would recommend this book for 4th grade and up, but warn the younger ones that it is a bit creepy. How about you? Do you enjoy spooky books? Do you have any similar recommendations? Let me know at www.facebook.com/mssmithreads/ !

Side note: Another book came out at about the same time called The Night Gardener, by Terry Fan. They are not at all related, so be sure to direct your students accordingly.