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The Children of Green Knowe

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L. M. Boston's thrilling and chilling tales of Green Knowe, a haunted manor deep in an overgrown garden in the English countryside, have been entertaining readers for half a century. There are three children: Toby, who rides the majestic horse Feste; his mischievous little sister, Linnet; and their brother, Alexander, who plays the flute. The children warmly welcome Tolly t L. M. Boston's thrilling and chilling tales of Green Knowe, a haunted manor deep in an overgrown garden in the English countryside, have been entertaining readers for half a century. There are three children: Toby, who rides the majestic horse Feste; his mischievous little sister, Linnet; and their brother, Alexander, who plays the flute. The children warmly welcome Tolly to Green Knowe... even though they've been dead for centuries. But that's how everything is at Green Knowe. The ancient manor hides as many stories as it does dusty old rooms. And the master of the house is great-grandmother Oldknow, whose storytelling mixes present and past with the oldest magic in the world.


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L. M. Boston's thrilling and chilling tales of Green Knowe, a haunted manor deep in an overgrown garden in the English countryside, have been entertaining readers for half a century. There are three children: Toby, who rides the majestic horse Feste; his mischievous little sister, Linnet; and their brother, Alexander, who plays the flute. The children warmly welcome Tolly t L. M. Boston's thrilling and chilling tales of Green Knowe, a haunted manor deep in an overgrown garden in the English countryside, have been entertaining readers for half a century. There are three children: Toby, who rides the majestic horse Feste; his mischievous little sister, Linnet; and their brother, Alexander, who plays the flute. The children warmly welcome Tolly to Green Knowe... even though they've been dead for centuries. But that's how everything is at Green Knowe. The ancient manor hides as many stories as it does dusty old rooms. And the master of the house is great-grandmother Oldknow, whose storytelling mixes present and past with the oldest magic in the world.

30 review for The Children of Green Knowe

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    We reread our favourite book of all time in the lead up to Christmas and finished it today. This book is a delight to read aloud, the poetic descriptions, conversations, stories by the fire, interspersed with excerpts of carols make it a magical story to read aloud yourself by your fire just as Tolly and Grandmother Oldknow do themselves by theirs. Tolly is near enough an orphan, his mother is dead and his father, who has married again is absent from his life. After spending holidays at his board We reread our favourite book of all time in the lead up to Christmas and finished it today. This book is a delight to read aloud, the poetic descriptions, conversations, stories by the fire, interspersed with excerpts of carols make it a magical story to read aloud yourself by your fire just as Tolly and Grandmother Oldknow do themselves by theirs. Tolly is near enough an orphan, his mother is dead and his father, who has married again is absent from his life. After spending holidays at his boarding school, his Grandmother who is actually a great grandmother asks him to stay with her for the Christmas holidays. Having been worried about how old she was, Tolly was surprised to find that they got on so well they were just like two human beings together, their age didn't matter. Longing for a family and siblings of his own Tolly is interested in the children who used to live there, their portrait hangs on the wall and in the evenings Mrs Oldknow tells stories of this family that lived long ago and were relatives of theirs. This part was very alluring to me as a child, I could identify with Tolly alone at Christmas and this house with a loving Grandmother and 'others' was perfect escapism. The house, Green Noah is a castle that has stories of it's own, a place where the present mingles with the past and the past reflects in the future. Tolly's relationship with Toby, Linnet and Alexander is subtly described, the reader can view this as (view spoiler)[ Tolly slipping back in time or the children of the past carrying on their lives in their house despite the fact they are not alive, or them coming to the future, or Tolly imagining how good it would be to have them for siblings. These parts are cleverly written and never made clear if it was a dream, wishful thinking or Mrs Oldknow going along with what she herself used to play as a child. (hide spoiler)] The descriptions of the house as a home, the appreciation of old, beautiful things, buildings, country surroundings and wildlife had a huge appeal to us. How nice if you could revisit a place and people you have loved after you die. (view spoiler)[ The way the children are described in snapshots of their lives carrying on although we know they are not alive is beautiful and seems perfectly realistic and plausible (hide spoiler)] The description of some singing they hear as a Grandmother of long ago sings a baby to sleep with The Coventry Carol is so beautiful, happy and sad it is hard to read aloud. Other snatches of song in the text help the story come alive, some of our favourites, Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day and Green Grow The Rushes Oh are quoted, there is much appreciation of music and singing in this story. The other element we love are the stories within this story, each night Grandmother Oldknow tells Tolly a story by the fire. These could be read alone, we saved Linnet's story to read on Christmas eve, the simple story of a stone St Christopher walking to midnight mass is beautiful and the perfect Christmas eve read. The conclusion of the story is exciting and the thought of (view spoiler)[ a malicious tree that had been cursed, reaching out it's branches to grab you was something I thought of as very scary as a child, the relief when this man shaped tree's reign of terror comes to an end is a fitting way to end this book (hide spoiler)] Although the house this book is based on, the oldest permanently inhabited house in England, Hemingford Grey is only around an hour's drive from where I live, the Green Knowe in my head is so wonderful I don't think I would want to replace those images. The illustrations by Lucy Boston's son, the original Tolly are wonderful, I love this cover, which illustrates Linnet's story, how sad so many reprints have replaced this with another illustrator's cover. I read this book most Christmasses as a child and when I had children of my own reading this to them was an enormous pleasure. One of those books where you can visit old friends but always find something new.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Aura

    Remember when you were young and wished the universe you created around the dull things surrounding you weren't completely ignored by your parents? That you could pretend that even your appartment is a place where things might actually happen, as if in a castle. When I was little I was told that there used to be a graveyard before they made the flats we live in. I was convinced of it for a while because of a big white cross placed in the nearby and certainly because spooky is way better than bor Remember when you were young and wished the universe you created around the dull things surrounding you weren't completely ignored by your parents? That you could pretend that even your appartment is a place where things might actually happen, as if in a castle. When I was little I was told that there used to be a graveyard before they made the flats we live in. I was convinced of it for a while because of a big white cross placed in the nearby and certainly because spooky is way better than boring when you're eight. I loved to fool around and fool other children as well. Even if I knew it wasn't real, I could still play that the house came alive while others were asleep, that I alone was confided in with such secret. I've always loved the dark because of that. Everythings seems different during the night. The Children of Green Knowe is a story where you thoroughly forget its being just a story. The narrator seems transparent, you get to experience things first hand. For me it was one of those books that reminded me how I felt when I was little and holidays came, what I wished and prayed for and seemed to forget after I grew up, but not entirely. The greatest praise a fantasy book can receive is saying it feels very real, that you can relate to the characters, feel their world as your own. Tolly meets at Green Knowe with children who lived there centuries ago, directly and through his great-grandma's stories. Not to mention the beauty of the descriptions. The house, the surroundings, the stories, the characters are so alive and the appeal to the reader's imagination so natural I can only regret missing the Green Knowe Chronicles for so long.

  3. 4 out of 5

    robyn

    This is that rarest of all things, a perfect book. It is a beautifully told story about a little boy who's sent to live with his grandmother in a very rural England. He moves into a vast old house, complete with whimsical topiary, an empty stable, a river, and - ghosts. It's obvious that that's what Tolly's strange new playmates are, at least to us, but they seem as alive as anyone else in the story, which moves seamlessly from present to past to present again, using the medium of the grandmothe This is that rarest of all things, a perfect book. It is a beautifully told story about a little boy who's sent to live with his grandmother in a very rural England. He moves into a vast old house, complete with whimsical topiary, an empty stable, a river, and - ghosts. It's obvious that that's what Tolly's strange new playmates are, at least to us, but they seem as alive as anyone else in the story, which moves seamlessly from present to past to present again, using the medium of the grandmother's stories, coupled with Tolly's curiousity and the childrens' memories. Green Knowe - once known as Green Noah, but renamed because of a dreadful association - is a house where things come unexpectedly to life, and where the past lies side by side with the present. Unfortunately not all the past was happy, and at least one of the things that is waiting its chance to come to life is very dangerous indeed. It's a story from an earlier time, full of wonderful childish joys but also genuine fright. Just like childhood itself - when we're ready to believe in the tooth fairy, but far more ready to believe in the bogey-man. There are six more books in the series, in which the unifying feature is always the house, but this first book is the stand-alone best.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    4.5 stars A terribly dated and terribly charming story of a small boy's stay with his grandma in a haunted house and his adventures there. I remember reading this as a child and this time I listened on audio. It's quite warm here at the moment and the narrator had a very plummy British accent with received pronounciation which was actually quite embarrassing when I had to slow the car near pedestrians, and they could hear it through my open window! Generations of the same family and gamekeepers ha 4.5 stars A terribly dated and terribly charming story of a small boy's stay with his grandma in a haunted house and his adventures there. I remember reading this as a child and this time I listened on audio. It's quite warm here at the moment and the narrator had a very plummy British accent with received pronounciation which was actually quite embarrassing when I had to slow the car near pedestrians, and they could hear it through my open window! Generations of the same family and gamekeepers had lived at the Green Knowe property and the stories shared were rather lovely.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Listened to the audiobook while winding wool/yarn. Reminiscent of childhood magical thinking. I loved the descriptive language, the stories and the birds and animals. While I listened I thought back to visits to my grandma's house, which I experienced as a haven of comfort and unconditional love. When he arrives at Green Knowe, Tozeland's great granny greets him warmly and gives him the name of Tolly. She is loving and engaging and puts him at ease. I love the relationship that develops between Listened to the audiobook while winding wool/yarn. Reminiscent of childhood magical thinking. I loved the descriptive language, the stories and the birds and animals. While I listened I thought back to visits to my grandma's house, which I experienced as a haven of comfort and unconditional love. When he arrives at Green Knowe, Tozeland's great granny greets him warmly and gives him the name of Tolly. She is loving and engaging and puts him at ease. I love the relationship that develops between them and how they feel so comfortable together. Overall, it was a delightful listening experience.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is a beautifully written British children's classic, especially appropriate for Christmas time. The author must be highly sensitive, an empath, or both, because the magic of nature was celebrated so perfectly in this. There are so many unnamed bird characters, for example. The chaffinch may be my favorite of all (including the humans!) If you're looking for a gentle read that turns the natural world into a magical place (or rather, reminds us that the natural world IS magical, and we just ne This is a beautifully written British children's classic, especially appropriate for Christmas time. The author must be highly sensitive, an empath, or both, because the magic of nature was celebrated so perfectly in this. There are so many unnamed bird characters, for example. The chaffinch may be my favorite of all (including the humans!) If you're looking for a gentle read that turns the natural world into a magical place (or rather, reminds us that the natural world IS magical, and we just need to focus more on it), then this is your book. And if you enjoy audiobooks, Simon Vance narrates this, and apparently the rest of the series as well. He is one of the very best. Six stars to the audio performance. I want to thank my GR friend Hilary for recommending this book to me. I'm so glad I waited until December to read it. It is exactly what I was looking for, and a brilliant escape read. I will at least try the next book in the series. I just love the magical world created by the author.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

    One night when I was a teenager I heard my mother go into my younger sister's room because she was crying. Turns out the book she was reading scared her, which of course piqued my interest. It was The Children of Green Knowe, and it didn't scare me, and I loved it. I always meant to read the rest of the series but never did. Now they've been reissued with Brett Helquist covers. I must get the whole series and read them all!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jefferson

    In the beginning of Lucy M. Boston's wonderful children's book, The Children of Green Knowe (1954), seven-year-old Toseland (pet name Tolly) travels by train through the flooded British countryside to spend his Christmas holidays with his great-grandmother Mrs. Oldknow in her old castle-like house Green Noah (true name Green Knowe). Tolly is a lonely and imaginative boy, Mrs. Oldknow a solitary and imaginative old lady, and they hit it off immediately, encouraging each other's fancies and treati In the beginning of Lucy M. Boston's wonderful children's book, The Children of Green Knowe (1954), seven-year-old Toseland (pet name Tolly) travels by train through the flooded British countryside to spend his Christmas holidays with his great-grandmother Mrs. Oldknow in her old castle-like house Green Noah (true name Green Knowe). Tolly is a lonely and imaginative boy, Mrs. Oldknow a solitary and imaginative old lady, and they hit it off immediately, encouraging each other's fancies and treating each other with mutual respect and affection. Green Knowe is a fascinating house, with a long history going back to the crusades, and although Tolly has never been there before, he feels that he has come home, and Mrs. Oldknow greets him, "Ah, so you've come back!" The manor is filled with objects redolent of history and love and magic: a doll's house that duplicates the entire manor house; a rocking horse with real horse's hair; a life-like wooden Japanese mouse (that may come alive when Tolly is asleep); mirrors that double the treasures of the house and make them more vivid and mysterious; and a painting of two boys and a girl and their mother and grandmother, Tolly's ancestors from the seventeenth century. The children in the painting seem to watch Tolly, their eyes tracking him as he moves across the room. When, desperate for friends and siblings, Tolly closes his eyes to go to sleep, he begins hearing the children riding the rocking horse, pattering bare foot on the wooden floor, turning the pages of a book, and whispering and laughing in corners, but everywhere he looks they have just vanished. Despite Mrs. Oldknow's advice to be patient, Tolly feels flashes of exquisite frustration. Will he ever see the children? Do they even exist? Are they only figments of his and Mrs. Oldknow's imaginations, elements of their game of wish fulfillment? Tolly's dreams and daydreams bring the children tantalizingly closer. And the more stories he hears about them from his great-grandmother and the more he explores the house and its secrets, the closer he comes to (perhaps) seeing them while awake. The novel depicts the magical influence of the past on the present when the meeting of a potent place and a sensitive person is intensified by art, knowledge, desire, imagination, and love, such that objects and figures from the past persist beyond their eras and enter and change the lives of people in the present. This can be very moving, as when Mrs. Oldknow calls Tolly Toby, the pet name of both her own son (who died during WWI) and of the eldest boy in the painting (who died over 300 years ago), because the three boys fuse in her heart and mind and hence in the "real" world. Tolly accepts being called Toby without any indignation. After all, he has come home. Boston has an artist's eye for detail and a magician's manner with words and mood, as in the following moments. Tolly's seeing Mrs. Oldknow for the first time: “She had short silver curls and her face had so many wrinkles it looked as if someone had been trying to draw her for a very long time and every line put in had made the face more like her. She was wearing a soft dress of folded velvet that was as black as a hole in darkness.” Tolly nearly seeing the children: "Perhaps it was only the wind, but there seemed to be some movement. A great deal was going on out of sight." Tolly "sneezing in the dust of centuries." Snow falling: "The snow was piling up on the branches, on the walls, on the ground, on St. Christopher's face and shoulders, without any sound at all, softer than the thin spray of fountains, or falling leaves, or butterflies against a window, or wood ash dropping, or hair when the barber cuts it. Yet when a flake landed on his cheek, it was heavy. He felt the splosh but could not hear it." Mrs. Oldknow and Tolly playing and singing a cradlesong, "while, four hundred years ago, a baby went to sleep." Through the main story of Tolly coming home and trying to get to know the children of Green Knowe, Boston weaves a plot featuring a curse and an inimical old yew tree cut into the shape of Noah. Her use of a gypsy witch and her horse thief son as convenient villains in the past is the only problem I have with the novel. But that political incorrectness was not unusual for the 1950s when Boston wrote The Children of Green Knowe. And for the most part the novel is delightful--magical, humorous, scary, joyful, sad, and beautiful.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I love these books, and The Children of Green Knowe, first in the series is one of my favorites(1). The Green Knowe series as a whole is the story of a house that has stood for so long and been loved so well that time is flexible. People who lived in and loved the house can meet, even after centuries. The Children of Greene Knowe opens as Tolly makes his first trip to stay there with his great grandmother, whom he has never met. He is in initially nervous, but soon comes to love the place and I love these books, and The Children of Green Knowe, first in the series is one of my favorites(1). The Green Knowe series as a whole is the story of a house that has stood for so long and been loved so well that time is flexible. People who lived in and loved the house can meet, even after centuries. The Children of Greene Knowe opens as Tolly makes his first trip to stay there with his great grandmother, whom he has never met. He is in initially nervous, but soon comes to love the place and meets three children who lived there long ago. I really enjoy the characters here. Tolly and his grandmother make a wonderful pair. They understand one another well, without the age difference being downplayed. Tolly is a young boy, and Grandmother Oldknow is adult, but they are able to share their love of the house while she teaches him of its history and shares his joy as he finds stashes of the other children's belongings--even if she does have to caution him to "Stop putting swords through the bedclothes" at one point. I also appreciated the unpredictable, sometimes frustrating nature of the house's magic. Tolly gradually learns to accept the fact that he never knows quite when the other children will be visible to him, but it is frustrating at first. He wants his friends to be present all the time. "I want to be with them. Why can't I be with them?" he cries at one point. It is wonderful, but sometimes frustrating. The Children of Green Knowe is, overall, a quiet book, a book of discovery. Though the remnants of an old curse present a threat, it's only briefly. Stronger than the sense of danger is the sense of joy: Joy of place and joy in nature. Tolly makes friends not only with the children, but with the birds and small animals in the winter garden. Best of all, the writing is beautiful. Take the first description of Grandmother Oldknow whose "face had so many wrinkles it looked as if someone had been trying to draw her for a very long time and every line put in had made the face more like her." Or read any of the descriptions of the nature around Green Knowe. Highly recommended. 5/5 __ (1) I cannot decide between The Children of Green Knowe and The River at Green Knowe. Sometimes I love one the best, sometimes the other. Review originally written for

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    This book really struck a chord with me. The relationship of Tolly and his grandmother is a very fine achievement by Boston. I loved the way they communicated and that they ate in the kitchen in front of the fire and shared their stories and adventures; it felt real and true. I think their relationship is beautifully articulated. It made me long for such a bond - where the sharing of thoughts, memories, ideas and emotions is expected and welcomed. Theirs was a mutually nurturing connection. Ther This book really struck a chord with me. The relationship of Tolly and his grandmother is a very fine achievement by Boston. I loved the way they communicated and that they ate in the kitchen in front of the fire and shared their stories and adventures; it felt real and true. I think their relationship is beautifully articulated. It made me long for such a bond - where the sharing of thoughts, memories, ideas and emotions is expected and welcomed. Theirs was a mutually nurturing connection. There is so much to recommend here: a ghost story, a Christmas story, and elements of magic and the fantastic. So much of life is seemingly magical to children. Tolly's discovery of the "other" children and the mouse and so many remarkable things in the garden are appreciated as extraordinary but without a sense of incredulity. The prose here is far and away superior to most literature for children. This piece seems to transcend the genre. There was one scene with St. Christopher that was so beautiful it I found myself in tears and I had to stop reading, mark the page and then had to read the whole section aloud to my sister (who was also quite moved). I'm trying to keep my comments vague. However, half the enjoyment of this book is the "writing," the way in which the story is told - quite beautiful. I'm not going to reveal any more so early. I just hope you all enjoy this as much as I did.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Terri Lynn

    What a warm and wonderful book this is!! I wish I had read it when I was a child but am so glad I have gotten to read it now as an adult. This book is utterly charming. Tolly is a young boy whose mom is dead and his father and stepmother live in Burma. He has been at boarding school where they have been very kind to him but he really longs to belong somewhere with his own family. Then suddenly he does! His great-grandmother OldKnow sends for him to come to live with her at the family home Green What a warm and wonderful book this is!! I wish I had read it when I was a child but am so glad I have gotten to read it now as an adult. This book is utterly charming. Tolly is a young boy whose mom is dead and his father and stepmother live in Burma. He has been at boarding school where they have been very kind to him but he really longs to belong somewhere with his own family. Then suddenly he does! His great-grandmother OldKnow sends for him to come to live with her at the family home Green Knowe. He takes the train there and is a little excited and a little nervous. Upon his arrival in a torrential rain, he finds the entire area is flooded but the cab driver tells him to wait and stay dry while he puts his baggage in the car and then they are met near the house by the groundskeeper in a boat. He is warmly welcomed by his great-grandmother who immediately tells him this is his home and shows him portraits of his ancestors. I have to admit that my heart was touched by the kindness shown to this child at his boarding school, by the cab driver, by the groundskeeper, and by his great-grandmother. I have seen way too many books where a sweet innocent child is talked to like dirt and treated very unkindly and it is so refreshing to see a book where this is not the case. The book is so warm, friendly, and comforting that way. Children who read this can gain a sense of security. The descriptions are playful, fun, and friendly and make you feel as if you are there yourself. I liked all of the characters as well as felt that they were made into real characters and not stick people. Tolly explores the house and grounds and discovers much to his delight that three children who were his ancestors visit there daily along with a special horse. These children and their mother had died during the Great Plague many years earlier but they tease him and he hears their laughter and their play and it adds to his fun. He gets out a lot to play as children used to do before they became couch potatoes stuck in front of computer screens and game consoles. One day, he finally gets to see the children. The great-grandmother doesn't think he is crazy as she sees them too. I like how Tolly gets involved with animals- he saves one of the children's carp fish that gets stranded after the floods recede; puts sugar cubes out for the ghost horse who eats them; and puts food in an open cage in his room that one of the children, Linnet, used to keep open for the wild birds to come in and eat in. The great-grandmother herself has wild birds eat from her hands and Tolly's too. I know I will be dipping into this magical book often to reread favorite scenes. I recommend it for children and for adults who are still alive enough to have a childlike spirit of fun and wonder inside their hearts.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    As I have said many times before I am trying to both broaden and recapture the experience of exploring other books including childrens classics I should have really read as I grew up. I have to admit rather guiltily that they are also a great escape from the stress and strain of working from home in this pandemic as well. So here we are with the classic Children of Green Knowe the first in the series of books. But where do I start, well I think at the beginning of the book I guess. However serio As I have said many times before I am trying to both broaden and recapture the experience of exploring other books including childrens classics I should have really read as I grew up. I have to admit rather guiltily that they are also a great escape from the stress and strain of working from home in this pandemic as well. So here we are with the classic Children of Green Knowe the first in the series of books. But where do I start, well I think at the beginning of the book I guess. However seriously the opening scenes of reaching the house through flood and then having heavily snow fall reminded me so much of my childhood. With changes in climate, central heating and then general interconnection of the world such events just do not happen (well at least in the centre of England at least) any more but they did when I was growing up. So here we have a tale obviously before my time (thank you) but with such strong echoes of my childhood. I could not do anything but fall in love with this story. It is such a gentle and honest book that you just want to be part of it and parts of it certainly do nothing to discourage you from it. I have no idea what the latter books are like but this surely does deserve its classic status and I am glad that I took the time to read it however short it may have felt.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a great kids story full of wonder set in a rural English manor. There's just a few characters, so they're easy to keep track of & they're great. It's written with enough description that I almost felt I was there & really wished I was. It's a childhood fantasy that any kid would love. It's fairly short & well narrated by Simon Vance. If there is an edition with pictures, it would probably be marvelous. Highly recommended. This is a great kids story full of wonder set in a rural English manor. There's just a few characters, so they're easy to keep track of & they're great. It's written with enough description that I almost felt I was there & really wished I was. It's a childhood fantasy that any kid would love. It's fairly short & well narrated by Simon Vance. If there is an edition with pictures, it would probably be marvelous. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    SarahC

    The young boy Tolly meets his great grandmother for the first time and is greeted by her: "So you've come back!" I wondered whose face it would be of all the faces I knew." This is a rich story of recognizing your place in the fabric of time and the line of family. I can't think of a better way for the two main characters to be introduced than by learning that the great grandmother "recognizes" her descendent even never having seen him before. That says miles worth to me. This story for young pe The young boy Tolly meets his great grandmother for the first time and is greeted by her: "So you've come back!" I wondered whose face it would be of all the faces I knew." This is a rich story of recognizing your place in the fabric of time and the line of family. I can't think of a better way for the two main characters to be introduced than by learning that the great grandmother "recognizes" her descendent even never having seen him before. That says miles worth to me. This story for young people is about exploring our own mysterious, magical history. It takes place in a very old home in England, originally inspired by a real-life setting the author was clearly in love with. Love and emotion is very evident here in the fantasy tale. This chronicle of Green Knowe (there are several in this 1950's series) contains many elements including that of home and connection -- giving young readers, especially, much to contemplate. I wouldn't hesitate to give this book to anyone, young or old, as Lucy Maria Boston's writing is rich, pleasurable, and ageless. Here is an example: She [Linnet] had a spruce tree in her bedroom...for the birds. On such a night her tame birds had come to sleep in its branches. They were curled up with their heads under their wings. The tits were balls of blue, or primrose-green; the robins red; the chaffinches pink. Linnet had put a crystal star on top. It glittered among the shadows in the candlelight. A little glimpse of simple, perfect beauty. I do recommend the experience of reading this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julie Durnell

    A delightful fantasy for not just children!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Like many of my generation, I was spellbound by the BBC's 1980s adaptation of Lucy Boston's "The Children of Green Knowe". It was one of those high quality children's dramas for which the BBC was renowned at that time and to this day, my sister and I will burst into giggles if one of us utters the line, "Green Noah! Demon Tree!" Regular readers of my reviews will see a pattern emerging, in that I have a penchant for time travel and the supernatural - but what Lucy Boston cleverly does in this, an Like many of my generation, I was spellbound by the BBC's 1980s adaptation of Lucy Boston's "The Children of Green Knowe". It was one of those high quality children's dramas for which the BBC was renowned at that time and to this day, my sister and I will burst into giggles if one of us utters the line, "Green Noah! Demon Tree!" Regular readers of my reviews will see a pattern emerging, in that I have a penchant for time travel and the supernatural - but what Lucy Boston cleverly does in this, and in her later Green Knowe stories, is to turn the haunted into the haunter, with the present day child occasionally becoming a ghost in the past. This switching of roles and the utter beauty of her descriptions of Green Knowe and its mysterious inhabitants are what make the Green Knowe books a joy to read again and again. The Children of Green Knowe has also become something of a Christmas tradition for me now - I read it every year as Christmas approaches, always with the same taut feeling of impending horror as the young Tolly thoughtlessly provokes the ire of Green Noah himself ...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Polly

    To say this is a thrilling ghost story is to misrepresent it entirely. It does have a very scary moment, at least very scary if you're a kid, but the 'ghosts' are more shadows of happy children, and this is a book I go to every year for comfort, not thrills. I wondered why Christmas didn’t feel right this year, and realized that part of it was not having read this book. So I’ve now taken care of that. I don’t think my mother actually read this to us at all, or at least not more than once (I mostl To say this is a thrilling ghost story is to misrepresent it entirely. It does have a very scary moment, at least very scary if you're a kid, but the 'ghosts' are more shadows of happy children, and this is a book I go to every year for comfort, not thrills. I wondered why Christmas didn’t feel right this year, and realized that part of it was not having read this book. So I’ve now taken care of that. I don’t think my mother actually read this to us at all, or at least not more than once (I mostly remember reading it myself), but for some reason it reminds me so much of being a child being read aloud to. And I did once have a scary night-time encounter with seeing a tree “where no tree should be” in a thunder storm.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I have a long blog about this book and what it meant to me, and perhaps the best thing I can do is point you to that post! Briefly, this book has wonderful characters and a great sense of place, and I reread it every Christmas, almost without fail. Here's my long review: http://mary-j-59.livejournal.com/2119... I have a long blog about this book and what it meant to me, and perhaps the best thing I can do is point you to that post! Briefly, this book has wonderful characters and a great sense of place, and I reread it every Christmas, almost without fail. Here's my long review: http://mary-j-59.livejournal.com/2119...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Tolly comes to live with his great-grandmother in a huge manor house that has existed for centuries. He gradually comes to meet and befriend the children who haunt the house. A gothic novel for the younger set.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    L.M. Boston, who lived for many years in a twelfth-century manor house that is reputed to be the oldest continually inhabited residence in Britain, has a stronger sense of place than any author I have ever encountered, and Green Knowe itself - the setting (clearly inspired by her own home) for her six interrelated children's novels, beginning with this one, first published in 1954, and concluding with her 1976 The Stones of Green Knowe - comes alive in her stories, almost as a character in i L.M. Boston, who lived for many years in a twelfth-century manor house that is reputed to be the oldest continually inhabited residence in Britain, has a stronger sense of place than any author I have ever encountered, and Green Knowe itself - the setting (clearly inspired by her own home) for her six interrelated children's novels, beginning with this one, first published in 1954, and concluding with her 1976 The Stones of Green Knowe - comes alive in her stories, almost as a character in its own right. Boston, who published her first book at the age of sixty-two - if ever something was worth the wait! - draws the reader immediately into her narrative, and into her world, in The Children of Green Know, following young Toseland (Tolly) Oldknow as he approaches his ancestral home, "Green Noah," for the first time, on a Christmas visit to the great-grandmother he has never met. Here he discovers a place where the past - his family's past - is not quite done, and the ghosts of his ancestors - particularly, of Toby (another Toseland), Alexander and Linnet, three young Oldknows from the seventeenth century - are not at rest. A heady feeling of almost immediate involvement, a sense of being drawn in, and slowly engulfed by an atmosphere of enchantment and mystery, is powerfully evoked here, in the text itself - which begins: "A little boy was sitting in the corner of a railway carriage looking out at the rain, which was splashing against the windows and blotching downward in an ugly, dirty way. He was not the only person in the carriage, but the others were strangers to him. He was alone as usual" - and in the artwork as well. Although very happy indeed that the Green Knowe books are again available, and well aware that new cover artwork plays a role in their continuing appeal for today's young readers - the series, after being out of print for many years, was reprinted here in the states beginning in 2002, with new cover artwork by Brett Helquist - I believe that the original cover art by Peter Boston (the author's son), best captures that sense of being drawn into a magical landscape. Here we have Tolly, holding a lantern aloft, as Boggis (Green Knowe's factotum) rows him toward the ancient house, which, standing like a sentinel in the midst of the seasonal flood, with every window lit, waits to welcome him home. And what a home it is! Boston's descriptions are lovely, really capturing the beauty of the place, and her characters (whether living or ghostly) terribly real, making The Children of Green Knowe one of the most compelling works of children's fiction I have ever read. I do not know, all told, that its subtle eldritch enchantment with ensnare ever reader, as it did me, when I first read it a few years ago (how I wish I'd discovered these books when still a child!), but for those who are lucky enough to find their way into its secret heart, it is an experience like no other!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amy Masonis

    I read this book in probably 3rd-4th grade, in the early 70's, when my mother was the librarian at my Episcopalian school in Newport News, Va. I would find any excuse to go down and visit her and our school's teeny tiny library, immediately to be sent back to class by my mom. My friend Cathy and I hoarded books, checking them out again and again ("Half-Magic" and "Jane-Emily" in particular, I remember). We read greek mythology endlessly. We always wanted to write "our own myths" - as an adult, th I read this book in probably 3rd-4th grade, in the early 70's, when my mother was the librarian at my Episcopalian school in Newport News, Va. I would find any excuse to go down and visit her and our school's teeny tiny library, immediately to be sent back to class by my mom. My friend Cathy and I hoarded books, checking them out again and again ("Half-Magic" and "Jane-Emily" in particular, I remember). We read greek mythology endlessly. We always wanted to write "our own myths" - as an adult, that seems pretty much what grownups do, but that's another story:) This was one book I kept for myself because I thought that nobody else would understand the gravity of it. A child alone in a safe and immense 13th century structure where he can run free. Tollie lives with his grandmother, who seems to be quite aware of what is happening, but in great literary tradition, the grownups let him be alone under their hidden watchful eye. That was enough to suck me in, even then. This story touches on a child's right to be alone, an interest in what came before him-herself, life and death, family, and the weight of mythology and religion. The image of Greene Knowe and St Christopher hung on me for years until I was working at a bookstore. I thought about it and couldn't remember the title. Six months later, there it was, back in print! A book story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    April Knapp

    Review originally posted HERE This is seriously one of the worst books I've ever read. I am surprised it made the list of top 100. It had a lot of potential-the plot and characters both seemed interesting, but the book is BORING. Through 90 percent of the book, we read how Tolly, the little boy, explores the house and grounds (with mundane activity), listens to birds, and plays flutes. The actions are very mundane-look at the book cover; that's pretty much the whole book. Finally, toward the end, Review originally posted HERE This is seriously one of the worst books I've ever read. I am surprised it made the list of top 100. It had a lot of potential-the plot and characters both seemed interesting, but the book is BORING. Through 90 percent of the book, we read how Tolly, the little boy, explores the house and grounds (with mundane activity), listens to birds, and plays flutes. The actions are very mundane-look at the book cover; that's pretty much the whole book. Finally, toward the end, we see a climax-one that is supposed to be scary and adventersome, but I personally found it uninteresting and not very climactic. Plus, the book is creepy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Audiobook. Tolly is spending his Christmas holidays with his great-grandmother in her ancient English manor house. They have never met before, but bond immediately, and the understanding between them is one of the pleasures of this story. But at first she won’t answer his questions about the strange things he hears and sees around the house and grounds. Listening to this children’s classic skillfully read by Simon Vance was a delight, and I’m looking forward to listening to it again next Christm Audiobook. Tolly is spending his Christmas holidays with his great-grandmother in her ancient English manor house. They have never met before, but bond immediately, and the understanding between them is one of the pleasures of this story. But at first she won’t answer his questions about the strange things he hears and sees around the house and grounds. Listening to this children’s classic skillfully read by Simon Vance was a delight, and I’m looking forward to listening to it again next Christmas. Reread. Reread 12/20/19-1/7/20

  24. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    A lonely 7 year old boy Toseland 'Tolly' goes to live with his great grandmother in an old house during the holidays from boarding school. And is introduced to a whole new world. I found this book charming and enchanting the language was beautifully descriptive – "Outside, the rising moon was hidden from the earthly mist and trees, but high-sailing clouds caught its light and with their silver-gilt brightness reflected a glimmer through the stable windows". But it doesn't sugar coat or shy away fr A lonely 7 year old boy Toseland 'Tolly' goes to live with his great grandmother in an old house during the holidays from boarding school. And is introduced to a whole new world. I found this book charming and enchanting the language was beautifully descriptive – "Outside, the rising moon was hidden from the earthly mist and trees, but high-sailing clouds caught its light and with their silver-gilt brightness reflected a glimmer through the stable windows". But it doesn't sugar coat or shy away from talking about the harsh realities of life in discussing the shocking impact of the Black Plague and war and its consequences. There is an underlying sadness that pervades through the book in the character of Tolly who is very lonely when he receives a letter from his absent father he isn't excited by its arrival but disposes of it as he has become use to the lack of contact. His great grandmother is filling the hole in his life and its lovely to see their relationship grow – "He was in high spirits and had more grins than he knew what to do with". He explores the house and grounds and becomes aware of laughter and children's voices could there be other children living in the house? It’s a short book but packs a lot into its few pages very nostalgic of a simpler time when a small gift given at Christmas bought great pleasure in stark contrast to the consumer led lifestyle of today. Highly recommend.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    A magical book; tremendously full of gorgeous artistic details and like all the best books not just for children. It is simultaneously a gentle and a frightening story. The little boy, Tolly is essentially in a dream world; what IS real after all? There are ghost children; most of the time sweet and comforting, but at other times, chilling(even to adults) as when they nonchalantly reveal the circumstances of their deaths from the plague. His great grand mother is very solicitous most of the time bu A magical book; tremendously full of gorgeous artistic details and like all the best books not just for children. It is simultaneously a gentle and a frightening story. The little boy, Tolly is essentially in a dream world; what IS real after all? There are ghost children; most of the time sweet and comforting, but at other times, chilling(even to adults) as when they nonchalantly reveal the circumstances of their deaths from the plague. His great grand mother is very solicitous most of the time but her care seems to disappear when she goes shopping and he (at the age of 7) is totally alone in the huge manor house, at night, no less... I loved this book when I was a child and as an adult see far more in it so that the enjoyment is increased tenfold. Really recommended....

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    Enchanting children's book, in the vein of The Secret Garden, which revolves around a lonely boy who comes to live with an aged relative in an isolated country house. It seems the house is haunted by the friendly spirits of some children who once lived there. That sounds rather trite as I write it, but the unfolding of the story is rather magical and lyrical, with an innocence that is special to the children's books from earlier eras.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    It's the Christmas holidays and a young pre-teen called Tolly has gone from his boarding school to spend a few weeks at his great-grandmother's mansion called, mysteriously, Green Noah. Appropriately the countryside is in flood from winter rains, leaving the house like the Ark perched on Mount Ararat. But from the first Tolly will find this the most magical of visits, as does a first-time reader such as myself. Why does this children's novel, the first in a series, evoke such admiration and loyal It's the Christmas holidays and a young pre-teen called Tolly has gone from his boarding school to spend a few weeks at his great-grandmother's mansion called, mysteriously, Green Noah. Appropriately the countryside is in flood from winter rains, leaving the house like the Ark perched on Mount Ararat. But from the first Tolly will find this the most magical of visits, as does a first-time reader such as myself. Why does this children's novel, the first in a series, evoke such admiration and loyalty from its fans? I suspect it's something to do with the author who, like the aged relative in the tale, is able to invoke the wondering mindset of the young, to evoke the no-man's-land between fantasy and reality that sensitive youngsters inhabit, and to convey all that to the reader. That fluid boundary has something to do with the sense of drifting through time that The Children of Green Knowe sets out to create, now intensified by the nostalgia -- real or imagined -- the reader may feel for a way of life long gone, one which existed in the postwar years but, as with all past eras, is now like a foreign country. This modern classic is a gentle meander through the memories of a ancient mansion very like the Manor at Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire, where the author lived. Toseland, whose father and stepmother are living in Burma, goes to stay with his great-grandmother Mrs Linnet Oldknow for a few weeks. Apart from the two of them the only other regular presence is the down-to-earth Boggis, whose ancestors have also been, like him, retainers and handymen to the Oldknow family. But there are other, more occasional presences, who presently can be identified as children who lived during the Restoration period at Old Noah, along with more fantastic entities, spirits perhaps emanating from a statue and an old topiary yew called Green Noah. Stuff happens, though not much, and the transitions from apparent reality to the world of Tolly's imagination make so much appear dreamlike. There is menace, there is magic; nature melds with history and legend; the miniature merges into life-size; and all around there are the floodwaters, the snow or the dark, with the house a haven for the true of heart. Interspersed with Tolly's story we have tales about another Tolesland, an Alexander and a Linnet of a bygone age, as narrated by Granny Oldknow. She sees, as Tolly soon comes to see, these one-time children of Green Knowe whose family portrait hangs in the hall; their relics become as precious to the modern boy as they were to their original owners -- birdcage, carved mouse, rocking horse, sword, dolls house. Lucy Boston creates a winter atmosphere as mystical as that conjured up by, say, John Masefield in The Box of Delights, or by Susan Cooper in The Dark is Rising ; both authors also feature a young lad (Kay Harker or Will Stanton) with an older, wiser, adviser or helper. As with Masefield's The Midnight Folk there are no separate chapters, but the novella-length text is paced by being punctuated by the Restoration children's tales. And, as with these other fictions, nature in the form of animals and plant life have an integral part to play, sometimes charming, sometimes more terrifying. The story's atmosphere is heightened by the inclusion of traditional rhymes, songs and carols, and by the author's son Peter's distinctive and striking black and white illustrations; the fact that the book is also dedicated to him reinforces the connection between Peter and the young protagonist. But it's the notion of timeslip -- as much as a sense of place and cast of amiable characters -- that adds to the book's appeal. Unlike Alison Uttley's A Traveller in Time , in which the child Penelope finds herself back in time at an earlier stage of the house called Thackers, Tolly's visitors come forward in time to Green Knowe, some from the 17th-century, others from legend or even dreamtime. And for a lonely only child, even one with a delightful and sympathetic relative, that can only be a good thing.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Beaumont

    This classic tale of an imaginative young boy and his equally imaginative great-grandmother, set during Christmas season at an old mansion haunted by three children from the past, is quite delightful. In this excellent audiobook, the story is vividly brought to life by narrator Simon Vance.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Roberta

    I admit it, the few 1-star and 5-star ratings I hand out are very subjective. If this were a concert, The Children of Green Knowe would be the warm up band for The Secret Garden. This story is old fashioned and charming. It's about a little boy whose parents apparently have something better to do than raise their child (read the author's bio if you want to know who gave her this idea) and put him on a train to go live with his great grandmother. Getting rid of the parents is almost obligatory in I admit it, the few 1-star and 5-star ratings I hand out are very subjective. If this were a concert, The Children of Green Knowe would be the warm up band for The Secret Garden. This story is old fashioned and charming. It's about a little boy whose parents apparently have something better to do than raise their child (read the author's bio if you want to know who gave her this idea) and put him on a train to go live with his great grandmother. Getting rid of the parents is almost obligatory in children's series books so I suppose the reader is just expected to accept it. But how this wonderful g-grandmother managed to breed one of the little boys dumbass parents is still a mystery to me. Anyway... The g-grandmother lives in a fantastic old castle home (read the author's bio) with a garden that is ... well, magical. Like the children in Peter Pan, the little boy is still young enough to think that all things are possible and to accept the magic at Green Knowe that makes the past come alive. My nitpic: What the %&$# is going on with the cover illustration? Don't get me wrong because I am a Lemony Snicket fan but this is really not a Lemony Snicket-type book and the cover is thoroughly misleading. I see a misguided attempt to market the books.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ensiform

    Toseland, called Tolly, goes to stay with his great-great-grandmother for his holiday from boarding school. Mrs. Oldknow lives at Green Noah, a grand old manor with beguiling decorations and strange visual effects made by mirrors and shadows. But there are forces beyond the ordinary there, as well. It soon becomes apparent that there are unusual presences in the house – three children, whom Tolly at first cannot see, until they get used to him and show themselves. They are ghosts of siblings who Toseland, called Tolly, goes to stay with his great-great-grandmother for his holiday from boarding school. Mrs. Oldknow lives at Green Noah, a grand old manor with beguiling decorations and strange visual effects made by mirrors and shadows. But there are forces beyond the ordinary there, as well. It soon becomes apparent that there are unusual presences in the house – three children, whom Tolly at first cannot see, until they get used to him and show themselves. They are ghosts of siblings who died in the Plague centuries ago, and they take a liking to Tolly. He explores the house and the grounds, with its magic living topiary, and finds items the children loved most in life. I found this to be a quaint, light children’s fantasy. It’s somewhat dreamlike in tone, with several scenes, such as Tolly’s first sight of the house and its flooded grounds, approaching by boat, that are especially otherworldly. It’s heavy on mood, but not on plot. Mrs. Oldknow tells a few vignettes about the children’s deeds when they were alive, but other than these, there is no conflict to speak of. An ancient curse on one tree on the grounds provides a sort of boogeyman, but the most suspenseful, dangerous scene concerning this is an actual dream of Tolly’s. It’s an evocative, just slightly spooky atmosphere, but without a mystery or conflict or obstacle, this is a setting in search of a plot.

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