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The Serial Garden: The...
Joan Aiken
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The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  372 ratings  ·  73 reviews
"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 C
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Big Mouth House (first published September 5th 2008)
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What a surprise. I've read several books by Aiken, loved The Wolves of Willoughby Chase as a child, yet had never heard of the Armitage stories. But my wonderful children's librarian tempts me with something every time I go in, and this time the easel in chapter books held this. I am so glad I picked it up. I loved how the characters were *almost* matter-of-fact about all the magical events in their lives. I loved how the earlier stories (written in the 1950s) were so funny, and how much they ma ...more
Monica Edinger
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 Ph ...more
Kate Coombs
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 m ...more
Jul 23, 2014 MB rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MB by: I'll read anything of hers I can lay my hands on.
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.
Lari Don
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 ...more
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 hap
Robin Gaphni
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.
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.
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
Eva Mitnick
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 ...more
Aug 04, 2009 Carmine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: most anybody
Recommended to Carmine by: school library journal
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 wi
Feb 20, 2010 Laurie added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Darsa, Kelly (your children too)
Recommended to Laurie by: Chasing Ray
1. Laura Miller recommends as "Great for reading aloud to younger children" so maybe we'll try it.

2. 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
Kate Pierson
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 . . . ." ...more
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
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 a ...more
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 t
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 ...more
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 i ...more
Dec 01, 2008 Charlotte rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: preeta, because I miss her.
Shelves: children-ya
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.
Elisabeth Wheatley
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.
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.
Margaret Muirhead
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.
Apr 11, 2009 Jessica marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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.
Maybe you have to read and enjoy these stories first when you are younger? Garth Nix is so enthusiastic about them in his introduction! I've read other Joan Aiken books that I really liked, and I definitely plan to read more Joan Aiken in the future. But overall this collection of stories about the Armitage family somehow fell just short of the mark for me. I think I would have enjoyed the stories a lot as a child, but somehow the quirky magical stories didn't thrill me reading them for the firs ...more
I've long been a fan of Joan Aiken, but I'd never read any of her short stories until now. I love this world of the Armitages - the slightly off-kilter English village where you keep a pet unicorn in the garden for riding, listen to the witchcraft shows on BBC 13 and do midnight lessons with the ghost of a governess. Daughter Lizza Aiken is right in her intro, however, the story of the serial garden is the one that really stays with you. Although Joan Aiken has passed on, I have to believe that ...more
Not a fair rating as I only made my way in a few chapters before I decided I wanted to move onto something else as a nightly read-aloud. It seemed quirky and magical and creative but there was an underlying, yet always present, feeling that these parents (whose children seemed to surpass them in "brightness") were ever relieved to be reprieved from their parental roles and relax in their armchairs with their favorite alcoholic beverages or cigarettes. My children seemed to be taken with the chil ...more
Each of the stories is unique and has a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor. The kids (and parents) are a riot and every Monday is so much fun. However, I think these stories are not going to appeal very much to kids today. A lot of the language was archaic (I had a hard time with some of it). It isn't exactly a book you're going to pick up and read straight through. This is definitely more of a read-a-story-to-your-kids-at-bedtime book - one story at a time is just enough. Full review at One Librarian ...more
Kelly Moore
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase was one of my very favorite books of all time, so I've had my eye on this collection of stories for a while. I loved it. They are unapologetically and briskly strange, and a perfect little escape from the world.
This is a superb collection of short stories from the novelist Joan Aiken (probably most famous for her children's story, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, but she is an accomplished writer for adults as well). This is a newly published authoritative collection of the Armitage Family stories, and a gem for Aiken enthusiasts, as many of these tales were previously uncollected and several had not ever been published. These tales are whimsical and amusing, sometimes poignant and always original. If y ...more
Impossible to rate as the stories ranged from 5 stars to zero, if there was such a thing.
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The Serial Garden 5 31 Mar 28, 2013 03:40AM  
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Joan Delano Aiken was a much loved English writer who received the MBE for services to Children's Literature. Her most famous classic, THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE,has been celebrating its 50th Anniversary with the publication of three brand new editions of the book and a new AUDIO recorded by her daughter Lizza.


More about Joan Aiken...
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Chronicles, #1) Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles, #2) Nightbirds on Nantucket (The Wolves Chronicles, #3) Jane Fairfax Arabel's Raven (Arabel and Mortimer, #1)

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