The Night Garden began in 2006 with the idea of a book about a crazy garden where everything sounded perfectly normal but the reality was quite strange. It was to be a book of related ideas all beginning with…
In my garden…
"we play hide and seek."
“friends come to visit”
"we have tea parties"
“we have adventures!”
Recognise any of these? These pictures were done in little sketch books and after a while I went to Sydney to visit ABC Books to see if they liked them. Which they did! But they said they really needed me to come up with a story.
So I had to keep thinking.
I came up with lots of stories. About a magic wand, a magic Grandmother, an old house and a little girl and her cat. I wrote versions that rhymed, and versions that didn’t. I wrote on and off for about a year while I worked on other things… but it was never quite right and I knew something was missing.
And then I remembered what I used to do when I was really really little…
When I was little I used to sneak out of bed when everyone else was asleep. I’d creep out of the bedroom, across the carpet and through the dark house to a window where I could see out into the garden. I remember perfectly the feeling I had when I looked out at the trees and odd shapes, glistening surfaces and deep deep shadows, all under the eye of the moon. It was an electric excitement. I knew that if I could just get out there I would have the most wonderful adventures. I could feel the icy smoothness of it under my feet, I imagined slipping on grass and bumping over bushes. It would be transformed and wonderful. And scary.
I never did get to go out into the garden. My mother, after finding me asleep against the freezing glass one too many times, finally placed a little latch on my door. And by the time I was old enough and big enough for it not to be a problem, I had moved on to new dreams of adventure. But I never lost my fascination for the night. For that is the time when the world is transformed. When there could be something under the bed, in the shadows, beyond your little pool of light. That is when shooting stars and satellites negotiate the sky, when clouds glow and the moon is ringed in ice. The night sky is forever and forever yet we come to know it like a friend. And that cool breeze brushing your arm has slipped along icebergs and through the rigging of pirate ships, around temples and vast silent deserts, and on the way it has met other solitary watchers just like you with the same dreams and questions.
The Night Garden is the adventure I was meant to have.