Sunday, June 16, 2024
Tom's Midnight Garden

Tom’s Midnight Garden

by Mark Warner
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Buy This Book * More books by Philippa Pearce

Lying awake at night, Tom hears the old grandfather clock downstairs strike- eleven- twelve… thirteen… Thirteen! When Tom gets up to investigate, he discovers a magical garden. A garden that everyone told him doesn’t exist. A garden that only he can enter…

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • Before reading the story, discuss with a friend what you think it might be about. Read the blurb on the back of the book. Does this give any more clues… or does it make you think of more questions?
  • At the start of the story, Tom wants to weep ‘tears of anger’ (although he stops himself). Think of other ways of describing emotions.
  • Rewrite part of the story from Tom’s point of view, using the first person. How does this change the story? Do you prefer stories written in the first or third person? Why?
  • At the end of chapter one, Tom writes a postcard for Peter. Can you write a reply from Peter?
  • Write a letter from Tom to his family. How might the content of Tom’s letter change according to the point in the story when it was written (e.g. in chapter two, he plans a letter to his mother, asking her to take him away)?
  • Write a set of rules that Tom has to follow when he arrives at the house.
  • Tom’s first visit to the garden is ‘a real expedition’. Can you write a story about a different expedition?
  • Make a list of words and phrases to describe the midnight garden when Tom first discovers it.
  • Write a recount, from Tom’s point of view, about his experiences in one of the chapters (e.g. chapter 3).
  • Tom’s letters to Peter include the initials BAR (meaning ‘Burn After Reading’). Can you find out about other popular acronyms? Could you make up some of your own?
  • Find all of the words and phrases that are used to describe the people (e.g. ‘brindled hair and brindled brown eyes’, ‘a little girl in a frilled blue pinafore and with hair worn long to her shoulders’).
  • Working with friends, find all of the words and phrases used to describe the garden. Can you make a note of these and use some of them within your own writing?
  • Can you interview a gardener and find out about all of the tasks that they have to do in the garden?
  • Carry out some role-play activities and interview ‘Tom’ about his experiences.
  • Write a senses poem about the garden.
  • Create an acrostic poem based on the words TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN.
  • Look through the text for any words and phrases that are unfamiliar (e.g. hither and thither, frontage, vexed).
  • Tom wishes that he could have been ‘companions in adventure’ with James. What adventures might they have had together?
  • In Chapter 12, Hatty is blamed for making the gap in the hedge. If Tom could have defended Hatty to her aunt, what might he have said?
  • Make a list of reasons ‘for and against’ Peter living with Tom at the Kitson’s house.
  • Write a persuasive letter from Tom to his mum, asking him to allow Peter to spend the rest of the summer with him.
  • Write Tom’s reply to his mother’s letter in Chapter 19.
  • Write your own story using the title (or based on the theme) ‘Time no longer’.
  • The story of Rip van Winkle is mentioned in Chapter 21. Can you find out more about it?
  • Write a biography about Mrs. Bartholomew’s life, using the information near the end of the story.
  • Listen to the audiobook. Could you record your own audio recording of part of the story?
  • Watch different versions of the story. How do they compare with the book? Which do you prefer? Why?


  • Imagine that there was a thirteenth hour after noon and after midnight. Plan a new timetable for your twenty-six hour day.
  • Tom goes to see Hatty every night, but she says that it is ‘months and months’ before she sees him each time. Can you calculate how their ages might change over the period of one of Tom’s months?


  • Tom was sent to live with his aunt and uncle because his brother had measles. What are measles? How does this affect people? How are they dealt with today?
  • Tom struggles to sleep when he arrives at the house. Can you find out why sleep is important to people?
  • Find out about some of the flowers that Tom finds in the garden. Can you learn about the different parts of a flower and how they help the plant?
  • Can you try to grow your own plants / flowers / fruit / vegetables?
  • Tom sees the garden in different seasons. Can you find out about the growing seasons of different plants?


  • Take (or find) some digital photos of different places in the moonlight. Compare these with photos of the same places in the day time.

Design Technology

  • Can you find out how a grandfather clock works? Could you make a model of one?
  • Design a new, stronger tree house for Tom and Hatty in the garden.


  • Draw some pictures that show what different places look like by moonlight. What might your house / garden / school like by moonlight?
  • Find some of the flowers that are mentioned in the book and use these as inspiration for your own artwork.
  • Tom sees the garden at different times of day and in different seasons. Could you create images showing the same garden at different times?
  • At one point in the story, Tom looks at the garden through different coloured window panes. Could you paint some pictures of the same location, using different shades of the same colour, and then repeat this using different colours?
  • Draw a picture of the view from Hatty’s room when she is recovering from the accident.


  • Look on a map / atlas and find some of the places mentioned in the story. Use an online map and add plot points to show the different places included.
  • Draw a plan view of the house and the different features mentioned in the story.
  • Read the description of the garden and try to create a map of it.


  • The story was written in 1958. Can you find any references that describe what life was like at that time? How was it similar / different to today?


  • Choose some key points in the story and describe how Tom is feeling at each point (e.g. at the start of the story, when he discovers the midnight garden…).
  • At the start of Chapter Four, Tom talks to his uncle and aunt about lying. Is lying always wrong? Is it ever justifiable? How does lying affect the people involved?
  • Uncle Alan explains (in Chapter Seven) that you can’t have the past again. If it were possible to have a past experience again, what would you like to do for a second time? What would you try and change?
  • Tom was ‘invisible and inaudible’ to the people in the garden. How might this have made him feel?

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