Book Review: The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
A forgotten door on an abandoned railway platform is the entrance to a magical kingdom–an island where humans live happily with feys, mermaids, ogres, and other wonderful creatures. Carefully hidden from the world, the Island is only accessible when the door opens for nine days every nine years. A lot can go wrong in nine days. When the beastly Mrs. Trottle kidnaps the prince of the Island, it’s up to a strange band of rescuers to save him. But can an ogre, a hag, a wizard, and a fey really troop around London unnoticed?
Proudly presenting Q&A with the kiddo, courtesy of my 10-year-old son, in which I ask my kiddo to describe a book he’s enjoyed recently and he gives his opinions, more or less unfiltered by mom.
Without further ado:
Q: What book do you want to talk about?
A: The Secret of Platform 13.
Q: What was it about?
A: The king and queen of this island had a child. It was the happiest day on the island. The three babysitters took the baby through the gump into the real world (kind of like teleporting). One of the girls got knocked out by car exhaust and a woman took the baby. Now the people on the island are trying to get the baby back.
Q: What’s the gump?
A: The gump opens every nine years and stays open for only nine days. If you step through, you go to a cove and can take a ship to the island. It opens at platform 13 at King’s Cross Station in London. There are ghosts who watch over the opening. If you go through and you don’t get back in time, then you’re stuck for nine years.
Q: What’s special about the island?
A: There are different animals and there’s a king and queen. It’s a magical island. There are creatures called mistmakers that makes mist when you play music, so when ships and planes pass by, they can’t see the island.
Q: How do they try to get the baby back?
A: The king and queen send a giant, a wizard, a fairy, and a hag through the gump the next time it opens. They think they find the right kid but he’s really just a spoiled brat.
Q: Who is your favorite character?
A: My favorite character was Ben. Ben is an honest boy who knows how to do work and is really cool. He is very nice and tries to help people but he’s also kind of gullible.
Q: How would you describe the book?
A: 4-star book. It’s funny and exciting.
Q: Who do you think would like the book?
A: I think kids my age would like the book if they like adventure stories, exciting stories, and cliffhangers.
Q: Are you glad you read it?
A: Yes, I am.
Mom’s two cents: We read The Secret of Platform 13 as a bed-time read-aloud, and it was quite a success. My kiddo was very involved and got excited about the story to the point that he was jumping in with comments and conjectures each time another plot twist was introduced. In my opinion, this was a nice option for a middle grade reader. The magical elements were fun, there was tension, drama and a little bit of menace, but nothing too scary. I was a little put off at first by the similarities in the early chapters to elements of Harry Potter (note: this one came first!), but fortunately the overlap didn’t carry all the way through the book and thus wasn’t too distracting. I had a great time seeing my son get caught up in this book, and I enjoyed it myself as well. All in all, a good choice for a mom/kid reading adventure!
So there you have it. We’ll be back with more book opinions from my kiddo, whenever I can get him to talk books again.