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The Secret of Platform 13

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  12,998 ratings  ·  842 reviews
A forgotten door on an abandoned railway platform is the entrance to a magical kingdom--an island where humans live happily with feys, mermaids, ogres, and other wonderful creatures. Carefully hidden from the world, the Island is only accessible when the door opens for nine days every nine years. A lot can go wrong in nine days. When the beastly Mrs. Trottle kidnaps the pr ...more
Paperback, 231 pages
Published June 1st 2001 by Puffin Books (first published January 1st 1994)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,998 ratings  ·  842 reviews


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Ferdy
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-book
A really fun, simple and magical read. It reminded me a lot of Harry Potter, what with platform 13 being like platform 9 and 3/4's, and Raymond/Ben were just like Dudley/Harry, and Mrs Trottle was sort of like Mrs Dursley.
Ines
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice little book that i have read together with my 10 year old son, he did not like it at all.... he was struck by the fact that you can steal children and grow them up as if they were your own..( nothing managed to change his mind despite having explained that it was only a story...) Nothing to do, he was impressed and nothing else in the plot softened him a bit in his vision.
I liked it, but nothing so special, the characters are little developed and too much meat on the fire. Just to remembe
...more
Carly Green
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This book has magic flowing throughout every word- I can't stress enough how much I love it. I still have the old copy from when I was very small, with my name shakily written on the inside cover. When we were asked at school what we thought heaven would be like, I simply read out Ibbotson's description of 'the island', an island with curving beaches, mermaids, hags and the all-important mistmakers. It manages to include everything a child would need to know about being good and kind, about how ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
One of my kids brought this book home from the school library several years ago and (true to form) I swiped it when they were done and read it.* I think younger Harry Potter fans would enjoy this book. As in the HP books, there's a platform at London's Kings Cross Station that leads to a different, magical world.** This magical porthole opens only once every nine years, for a nine-day period. Nine years ago, the baby prince of this magical land was kidnapped while visiting our world. And now tha ...more
Mo
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Meredith
I have a 7 year old granddaughter who is a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I think she would love this book. She (Meredith) has a birthday next month, and this will definately be one of her gifts.

Note: The parallels between The Secret of Platform 13 and Harry Potter are inescapable. This book actually was published 3 years before the first Harry Potter book. I appreciate the fact that it is not nearly as dark as the Harry Potter series.

Update: I gave this to Mere for her 8th birthday - March 25.
Arielle Walker
I haven't read this since I was very, very small, and an adult re-read didn't disappoint. I can definitely see moments referenced in Harry Potter - the bratty, spoiled child in a delicious incident with a Knickerbocker Glory, to say the least - but as the Ibbotson herself has said she would "like to shake [J.K Rowling] by the hand. I think we all borrow from each other as writers." I can hardly take umbrage. Both books are fantastic, both authors equally so.
Jess
Nov 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Dahl, Rowling
Shelves: fantasy, juv
Chapter book - fantasy
For grades 2-7

An ogre, a wizard, a fey and a hag are sent to our world to rescue a young prince who was stolen as a baby in this humorous, low-fantasy adventure.

Every nine years, for nine days, a doorway is open between our world and the Island, which is inhabited by all manner of fantastical creatures; when four of these magical people come through to rescue their prince, the mix-ups and adventure that ensue are more than enough to keep any young fantasy fan entertained. I
...more
Louise / Daisy May Johnson
Oh, oh, oh, my love for Eva Ibbotson utterly continues.

The Secret of Platform 13 is furiously magical and madly inventive. It's the story of a hidden island, wrapped away from the 'everyday' by magic and mists (mists made, fyi, by the *most* amazing creation ever - mistmakers, seal-like creatures who produce mist every time they hear beautiful music). The island is accessible through a secret door on Platform 13, Kings Cross which opens briefly every nine years.

The island is desperately missin
...more
Kristin
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Wow...I'll never look at knitting needles the same way again. Thanks a lot, Soft Parts Doreen.

Seriously, though, why isn't this book a well-known classic? It was so charming and funny and addicting. It was like Roald Dahl with a bit of Narnia and Harry Potter thrown in. I loved the writing style, the characters, the plot, everything! What is it with the British and their children's books? They write kids' classics better than anyone else.

Every time I read a new middle grade, I'm hoping that it
...more
Tatiana
This wasn't my favorite though I'm not exactly the age for this book. I'm sure kids would enjoy it. To me, it felt too overwhelming and too much of everything, and the characters felt not sufficiently developed too.

I can't tell that I enjoyed it. It was pretty boring, to be honest. Though now after reading this book it's clear where the inspiration for the first part of the Harry Potter first book and some of its characters came from.
mytaakeonit
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this because I had heard that it may have inspired JK Rowling to write Harry Potter. It is a very cute fantasy story, but meant for a young audience. Maybe third or fourth grade.
Chris
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A quest to find a missing prince. A portal that opens for a few days every nine years. A rescue mission by a hand-picked team. Obstacles to be overcome -- or else disaster follows. Eva Ibbotson writes a witty narrative that combines a comedy of errors with incipient tragedy, likeable protagonists with a dastardly antagonist, familiar landmarks with an insular fairyland straight out of legend.

Forget cranky critics who archly suggest J K Rowling ripped off ideas from this fantasy for her Boy Who L
...more
Jordan Taylor
I was browsing through a thrift store, and when I saw this short little children's book, I decided to read it right on the spot.
I remember seeing this book everywhere when I was a younger teenager, but for some reason I never ended up reading it. It was probably during the years that I refused to read anything but historical fiction and classics (which, I must admit, still sounds loosely similar to how things are today).

But anyways.

In "The Secret of Platform 13," there is an Island somewhere (no
...more
Morgan
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a sweet story.
It reminded me of Rowling (of course), and Roald Dahl rolled into one. Wish I would’ve read this when I was younger.
Nina
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, fantasy
Years ago I got the German audiobook for my birthday or for Christmas. And I remember listening to it almost every day. Then - a while ago - I found the CD in one of my old CD boxes and listened to it again: And I still love the story so much.

So I decided to give the book to my cousin for his 11th birthday. I think he'll like it, too, because he read the whole Harry Potter series.
So that's the point: You can look at the story line for itself and it's great. Yet you can try to find all the thing
...more
Holly
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Read so long ago (pre-Harry Potter days), but I remember distinctly that this book taught me the word "hag."
Meaghan
Feb 24, 2014 rated it liked it
These are third grade student reviews!

MAEVE
This surprisingly twisty turny tale is about a fey, a magnificent wizard, a magical garden lady, and last, a floating eyeball (or an Ogre if you would be so kind.) They all live on an island in peace until someone no one knows steels the baby prince and everyone is dreadfully sad. This is when the story really begins…
No one except the rescuers know what’s in the world of London. The King and Queen make the rescuers set out to find their long lost son. O
...more
Jason Pym
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
We were about half way through reading this, and I was thinking this is a very enjoyable Harry Potter rip-off, when I found out this came out a few years before Harry Potter and was actually one of J.K. Rowling's inspirations (I should probably put inspiration in quotes, but I like her too much).

This is really a lot of fun, great to read aloud to children, and we're definitely hunting down more books by her.
vaugnfreech
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I saw a copy of this at Booksale some years ago. The title is catchy enough: The Secret of Platform 13. Which sounds like, Platform 9 3/4. Harry Potter rip off? I didn't mind.

Then I saw a bargain copy lately, back to back books by Eva Ibbotson for only 55 Php. Cool enough. Two books: The Secret of Platform 13 and Island of the Aunts. I started reading The Secret of Platform 13 as soon as possible. I was inspired when I saw the publishing year: 1994. Harry Potter was first published 1997. So the
...more
Namratha
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
My foray into the crazy world of Eva Ibbotson continues!

Platform 13 at London Station has remained shut since a very long time. But any attempts to make renovations always....always get botched up. The reason being that Platform 13 hides a "gump" : an opening to a secret, utopian island. It is a blissful place, ruled by a well-loved King and Queen and plays home to all kinds of humans, animals and magical creatures. However the gump opens once in nine years for nine hours only. So anyone who wan
...more
Lucy
There was a lot to like about this book, but unfortunately, I found a lot to dislike too. The extremely fatphobic descriptions of the Dudley Dursley-esque character and his mother were deeply off-putting, and the description of the harpies might be the most misogynistic two pages I've read in a long while. I was really disappointed, as Eva Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs is one of my favorite books of all time, and her descriptive power is top notch - although now I worry that a reread might ...more
Jess Hancock
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
My year 4 bookclub chose this as their second read.
To be honest when I first started reading I didn't know how on earth I was going to help them draw anything from the story. It was slow starting, a little confusing, slightly vague, but then suddenly the pace changes and it turns into a wonderful little mystical adventure story.
I did enjoy the story and liked that I could draw references to books and movies such as; Harry Potter, Prince Caspian, flushed Away and Janes Bond.
At book club, the t
...more
Robin Stevens
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joyous, magical storytelling with honesty, heart and a wonderful way of seeing the world. A modern classic.
Deshana Desai
I was expecting loads from this book. It is one of those books recommended as a relief to those going through severe Harry Potter withdrawal. I expected magic and being left in wonder and amazement (the effect magic usually has on a reader). But it thoroughly failed to meet expectations. The magical gump, caves, mermaids, a ragtag group of individuals for the most important quest, 'stealing' a baby; all these were examples of elements that didn't work.

The world building was too cautious - it fe
...more
Eleni
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s
After a tough academic year, I wanted to start off my summer reading with something light and sweet, so I picked this book as my choice because, when, I was researching for my Harry Potter course, this book was mentioned in relation to the seperation of worlds and the protagonist not knowing how famous he was in the other, magical world.

When the baby Prince from the hidden Island is kidnapped (because his nurses are dying for some fish and chips!), he cannot be brought back immediately because
...more
Katie Mote
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is full of fantasy, and made up worlds. A world that you can get lost in, that lets your imagination run wild. As you enter it from platform 13 on Kings Cross Station it allows it to be tangible, it allows you to feel that maybe you too could be part of the world. This book carries themes of love, rescue, adventure, acceptance, kindness and so much more. This book would appeal to a range of children, both boys and girls because of the sense of adventure, the characters having to go on ...more
Jane Potter
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I remember loving this novel when I was a kid. It was one of the first fantasy novels I ever read. And I was excited to reread it.

The story is easy to get into and fun to read. I love the simplicity of the plot and the fun fantasy elements in the characters and their interactions. it's pretty easy to figure out where the story is going but that wasn't a surprise for a children's novel.

Ben is so easy to love and root for. Raymond was so ridiculous I had to laugh at him over and over. And I love
...more
Heather
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Came across this randomly, remembered I read it as a kid and loved it, but couldn't remember why. Now I remember why. It's so cute and British and I get major HP and Narnia vibes but it's even better because the main cast of characters is so varied and their differences are so celebrated. A wizard, a fey, an ogre, and a hag go on a quest through the hidden doorway in Platform 13 of King's Cross station to rescue their stolen prince, and shenanigans ensue. Love the very C.S. Lewis way of writing ...more
Imogen T
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book when I was first read it as a Year 6 student. Eva Ibbotson is a highly underrated author whose books combine magic and mystery with comedy and morals. I still read this book to this day as an adult and hope to keep reading it.
Maria Casale
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
I love this book! Wish I had found it as a kid, it would definitely have been one of my read over and over favorites. Funny, delightful and surprising.
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2,004 followers
Eva Ibbotson (born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner) was a British novelist specializing in romance and children's fantasy.

She was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1925. When Hitler came into power, her family moved to England. She attended Bedford College, graduating in 1945; Cambridge University from 1946-47; and the University of Durham, from which she graduated with a diploma in education in 1965.
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