Sometimes dreams are so vivid they seem real. For Tom, however, a stay with his aunt and uncle while he is under quarantine for measles brings dreams to life. He must remain indoors until the doctor is sure he is not contagious. But what boy can resist the great outdoors during summer vacation? Unable to sleep, Tom notices that the old grandfather clock in the front hall strikes thirteen at night. Curiosity gets the better of him. He must look at that clock! And while he is downstairs, what harm could there be in investigating the yard behind the apartment building?
Tom steps out the back door to a world that simply does not exist during the daytime: a garden from the past with a young orphan Hatty. While his days are monotonous, Tom spends his nights playing with this mysterious girl from another era. Reliving his adventures by writing about them to his sick brother Peter, Tom avoids thinking about what his return home will mean. How can he make time stand still in the present so that he does not lose his special garden and new friend?
Philippa Pearce’s enchanting story touches on the need in every human heart for companionship. Both Tom and Hatty are lonely, and they each fill a void for the other. With a clever twist, however, Pearce demonstrates that deep down, everyone longs for a friendship that can span time and space–and eternity.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.