Where to begin with the Children of Green Knowe? On the one hand, it is a sweet, simple little ghost story – not a scary ghost story, but a ghost story nonetheless. On the other hand, it is a timeless meditation on family, the past, the present, and the intersection of all three in the most magical way.
I loved this book. Tolly – the living child who arrives at Green Knowe by boat, because the land around the manor house is completely flooded. And, what a marvelous image it is when he awakens in the old fashioned nursery under the eaves – a giant ark of a house surrounded by flooded water that has come over the banks of the river below.
Toby, Alexander and Linnet, the ghost children who died centuries earlier in the Great Plague, and who still haunt Green Knowe in the most friendly of fashions, along with their beloved pets. Green Knowe (or, Green Noah, as it is called in the book) is full of magic.
Can’t catch me
Green Knowe is an otherworldly place, Grandmother Oldknowe is a character with a foot planted firmly in both of Green Knowe’s incarnations. The book reminds me a bit of C.S. Lewis’s timeless classic [book:The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe|100915] without the overt Christian allegory: an old mansion that is more than it appears, a world out of time, and an elderly sagelike character to help the main characters put their time there in perspective.
I discovered this book a bit too late for my children – a daughter, 17 (who has long since graduated to adult fare) and a son, 13. There is a lovely section about Christmas at Green Knowe, however, so I think I will try it out this holiday season as a seasonal read aloud, which is a long-standing tradition between my son and I.
I will close with a quote:
“Outside, the world was most magical. It had stopped snowing. The garden looked like the back of a giant swan, curled up to sleep. There was nothing but white slopes, white curves, white rounded softnesses with bright blud shadows. Nothing had been scraped aside or trodden on. The only footmarks wre the birds’ round the door. The yew trees had disappeared. In their places were white hills with folds and creases i their sides. Tolly picked up a handful of snow and found it was made up of tiny violet stars.”
Highly recommended for children of all ages.