Old Favourites: The Children of Green Knowe

Hello and welcome to my monthly special feature on children’s books! On the first Monday of every month you can come and (re-)discover an old favourite, to read for yourself or share with your children. This month, talented poet Helen Braid from All At Sea leads us into the amazing world of:

Children of Green Knowe

The Children Of Green Knowe

Green Noah
Demon Tree!
Evil Fingers
Can’t catch me!

I wanted to be Tolly – on the train to Penny Soaky in the pouring flood. With Boggis and a boat and a lamp to light the way. I wanted his adventure for my own.

Lucy M. Boston, an English novelist who wrote for both children and adults, based the Green Knowe series (published 1954 – 1976) in her Cambridgeshire home at Hemingford Grey…

“Tolly’s great-grandmother wasn’t a witch, but both she and her house, Green Knowe, were full of a very special kind of magic. And Green Knowe turned out not to be the lonely place Tolly had imagined it to be. There were other children living in the house – children who had been happy there centuries before.”

Last Christmas, buying stocking filler wooden mice, I thought of Tolly – in his attic bedroom with his ebony mouse… 4 beds, rocking horse and an empty bird cage. And whispers in the dark – from Toby, Alexander and Linnet. While Feste neighed from her empty stall and Mrs Oldknow ate buttered toast by a roaring fire.

The adventure Tolly embarks upon in the house and gardens of Green Knowe – where everything is magical and very, very old – captured my imagination and has never quite let go.

In the 1980’s we lived in a modern house, with modern tastes and clean lines. My childish self would have loved nothing more than the freedom of an old stone mansion full of corridors, corners and creaking boards.

But I think the hook was the ghosts – I read Green Knowe around the same time as The Ghost Hunters Handbook by Peter Underhill, and together they kick-started a firm fascination with all that lies just beyond the norm.

And The Children Of Green Knowe remains my best loved tale. I’ve read and re-read it many times and its appeal never seems to age. The BBC made an excellent dramatisation in 1989 which I was very lucky to find on DVD just the other year.

I cannot wait until my own son and daughter are old enough to read – and watch – where I left off.

Rare and haunted and old – magic through the eyes of those who still believe…

Childhood escapism at its very best indeed.

And for those who remember Green Noah Demon Tree… we have our very own within the estate, I honestly stopped dead in my tracks the first time I spotted the face…

Green Knowe tree

Previously in Old Favourites:
Joan Aiken: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (reviewed by me)
Crockett Johnson: Harold and the Purple Crayon (reviewed by Julie from Button, Button)

Kid Lit Blog Hop

22 responses

      • Oh, now you’re asking! I honestly wouldn’t know where to start, but I do love Danny the Champion of the World. Plus Enid Blyton, Anthony Buckeridge, Captain W E Johns-adventures galore!

      • Not sure if I know the last two, but def an Enid Blyton fan. I used to want to go to Malory Towers when I was a kid. Now I read the books and shudder at how emotionally stunted those girls must grow up to be – they never meet a man other than the music teacher until they leave school at 18!!

      • I know! I loved Mallory Towers too-very envious of the swimming pool, but reading them through adult eyes is rather different! Anthony Buckeridge wrote the Jennings series about a boy going to prep school and Captain W E Johns wrote the Biggles series all about a WW1 fighter pilot. Very traditional stories, but I loved them!

      • Oh yes, Jennings, I LOVED Jennings! Never read Biggles books but heard of them of course. 🙂 Yes, Malory Towers through adult eyes is rather disturbing, I find…

  1. I also loved this book and still do!!! I rememner watching the BBC version with my son when it came out – a great read.

  2. Gosh, I feel very uneducated – I haven’t read or heard of this book either. But it sounds lovely. As we live on the edge of a common, we have lots of big wise trees, and they too have faces much like this. I shall look it up. Thank you Helen and Judith xx

    • I was very excited to discover your blog hop! I’ll be visiting the other reviews today and hope to pick up some new reading ideas myself.

    • Free books? I’m there! Thrilled to find a whole community of children’s book lovers via your blog hop – will be back in August with the next guest review!

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