David's Reviews > The Children of Green Knowe

The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston
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's review
Dec 15, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, kids-fiction, magical-realism

The Children of Green Knowe (Green Knowe #1) by L.M. Boston, illustrated by Peter Boston, is the beginning of a series, starting with the tale of Tolly. who comes to live with his great-grandmother at the ancient house of Green Knowe and becomes friends with three children who lived there in the seventeenth century.

Tolly's father has recently remarried and Tolly doesn't want to spend his holidays with his new step-mother, so instead he visits his deceased mother's grandmother and begins exploring the vast old house, an empty stable, a river, whimsical topiary, and the ghosts of the house. The ghosts of the children seem as alive as anyone else in the story, which moves from present to past to present again, using the grandmother's stories, Tolly's curiousity, and the ghost childrens' memories.

This story features a very strong sense of place. Green Knowe is a house where things come unexpectedly to life, and where the past lies close by the present. The characters have a magical feel, especially great-grandmother Oldknow, and Toby (another Toseland), Alexander and Linnet, ghost of three young Oldknows from the seventeenth century, who are not at rest. There are a few illustrations.

While the pace is a bit slow and the story old fashioned, it has charm and appeal. The warmth of the welcome given to Tolly helps draw the reader into the story. Charming touches such as feeding the birds and letting them sleep inside, Tolly's wanderings through the topiary garden, and his quest to interact with the ghosts, and Granny's stories, all harken to times past. The stories and hints of the ghost of Feste, a horse from the past, may also draw in horse lovers. There are also the magical elements, including evil, that lurks through the book.

Though some modern readers may not care for the pace or nostalgia, the strong sense of place, unusual characters, mystery, and magic make this an interesting fantasy for me. Recommended for school and public library collections.

For ages 8 and up, fantasy, magic, ghosts, classics, and fans of L.M. Boston.
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Ivan The Novella Club is reading this book now. As you’ve read it so recently perhaps you’d like to drop in and join or discussion about it.

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