Author(s): Joan Aiken
'I wish we'll have two children called Mark and Harriet. And I hope lots of interesting and unusual things will happen to them. It would be nice if they had a fairy godmother, for instance. And a phoenix or something out of the ordinary for a pet. 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' As a result of their mother's honeymoon wish, Mark and Harriet Armitage have a fairy godmother, a pet unicorn, and are prepared for anything life can throw at them (especially, but not always, on a Monday): hatching griffins in the airing cupboard, Latin lessons with a ghost, furious Furies on the doorstep, and an enchanted garden locked inside a cereal packet. Life with the Armitages can be magical, funny, terrifying - but never, ever dull.
What a thrill to discover this gem from the witty and endlessly inventive Joan Aiken -- Chris Riddell Joan Aiken's invention seemed inexhaustible, her high spirits a blessing, her sheer storytelling zest a phenomenon. She was a literary treasure, and her books will continue to delight for many years to come. -- Philip Pullman She was a consummate story-teller, one that each generation discovers anew -- Amanda Craig The Times A writer of wild humour and unrestrained imagination Oxford Companion to Children's Literature A writer of wild humour and unrestrained imagination Oxford Companion to Children's Literature A delightful whimsical set of stories about young Mark and Harriet Armitage and the fantastical things that just happen to them, where if the lawn is full of unicorns you can count on their father to rush out and try to stop them eating the roses. These stories are funny and often unexpectedly poignant. They also don't have a wasted word or scrap of information. They're both charming and genuine in a way that few things manage. -- Jo Walton She was a consummate story-teller, one that each generation discovers anew -- Amanda Craig The Times
Joan Aiken was born in Sussex in 1924. She was the daughter of the American poet, Conrad Aiken. Before joining the 'family business' herself, Joan had a variety of jobs, including working for the BBC, the United Nations Information Centre and then as features editor for a short story magazine. Her first children's novel, The Kingdom of the Cave, was published in 1960. Joan Aiken wrote over a hundred books for young readers and adults and is recognized as one of the classic authors of the twentieth century. Amanda Craig, writing in The Times, said, 'She was a consummate story-teller, one that each generation discovers anew.' Her best-known books are those in the James III saga, of which The Wolves of Willoughby Chase was the first title, published in l962 and awarded the Lewis Carroll prize. Both that and Black Hearts in Battersea have been filmed. Her books are internationally acclaimed and she received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in the United States as well as the Guardian Award for Fiction in this country for The Whispering Mountain. Joan Aiken was decorated with an MBE for her services to children's books. She died in 2004.