The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories




It is times like this that I wonder what I was reading as a child. And why did I never read any Joan Aiken?

Would the child-me have enjoyed the Armitage family’s antics as much as the adult-me does today?

Because it was such a fun, silly, charming and enchanting read that I so wished I could share with my kids.

(They’re 2 and 4 and while they are developing their own sense of humour, I don’t think they’re ready to appreciate this book quite yet.)

What is an Armitage Family story?, you may wonder.

Well, there is Mark and his sister Harriet, and of course their parents, Mr and Mrs Armitage. Mark and Harriet are very likable, rather sweet kids, to whom delightfully odd things happen. Their parents often get turned into things, but react in very straitlaced manners. Like fundraisers and business meetings. Although the fundraiser is for the Distressed Old Fairy Ladies and Mr Armitage takes his meeting as an insect. As in, oh I am an insect, oh bother, here, son just take me to my office so I can conduct my meeting anyway.

You know, because these things happen. And mostly on Mondays. Because on Mondays, “unusual things were allowed, and even expected to happen at the Armitage house”.

One of my favourite stories involved Brekkfast Brikks, a dusty kind of cereal with a cut-out garden on the back. A magical cut-out garden that is!

And the one where Mr Peake, the ghost who lives in the house, takes Harriet out from school for the holiday weekend.

Or maybe it’s the one where the unicorn makes its appearance.

It’s just full of wonderful stories to read, reread and share. Whether it’s a Monday or not.

“Well,” she allowed, “we could have a special day for interesting and unusual things to happen – say, Mondays. But not always Mondays, and not only Mondays, or that would get a bit dull too.”


  1. Sounds so sweet! I used to love funny whimsical books where magic things happen, but I am very fussy about my magic – it has to be totally internally consistent, otherwise I get cross. The children’s authors of yesteryear were particularly good at that.


  2. That sounds delightful!

    D and I are currently reading The Penderwicks and it is a first time for both of us. It’s about four sisters who stay in a cottage on a country estate for the summer and of course get into plenty of scrapes! I love it because I am one of four sisters and it reminds me of books like Five Children and It 🙂


      1. The Penderwicks really is a great summer read. As for another Aiken, one of my favourite winter reads is her The Wolves of Willoughby Chase; I love to reread it when the snow is falling determinedly out-of-doors. But I’ve yet to read more of her work…must do so! (This collection is on my TBR too: glad you enjoyed it so much!)


      2. I did read Wolves a while ago but never read any of the rest of Aiken’s books but after The Serial Garden I’m definitely going to reread Wolves and try the rest of the series.


  3. So happy you enjoyed these – they were some of her own favourite stories too, and a world she went back to over and over again – a fantasy version of the village where she lived as a child!
    You might enjoy this: and a few more ‘Armitage’ related posts
    …and your 2 & 4 year olds might like Mortimer the raven…


    1. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, Lizza! And for those links.

      I just saw the upcoming version of Serial Garden from Virago. What an absolutely gorgeous cover. I’ll have to get a copy for myself and my boys when it’s out!

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