It is amazing how many children’s book characters have names that start with ‘M’. So many I could have chosen - Milly Molly Mandy is probably my ultimate ‘M’ but I have written about her before, so I’d decided upon Mildred Hubble, of Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch fame. But then today I found Helen Cresswell’s book ‘Moondial’ while our book-hunting, and remembered Minty…
Ah Moondial. The book was dramatised into a brilliantly spooky television series of the same name, shown in the UK in the late 80s. Atmospheric and haunting – the story revolves around teenager Araminta Cane (Minty), who is sent to stay with an aunt when her mother is seriously ill in hospital. The aunt lives in the long shadow of a stately home, and in its grounds Minty discovers a sundial which has the power to send her into the past. Stronger at night – she realises it is actually a moondial, and if she can work out the right way to use it then maybe she can free two children trapped centuries before, and even help her own mother.
Minty is brave, resourceful, and deals with things on her own, even big things like grief. She also has a good line in witty asides. I’m so happy to have found the book. If you have time, see below for a glimpse of the television series – the whole thing is on youtube, and it really is brilliant – perfect cast, perfect music score, and deliciously dark and unsettling, even 23 years later.
Author: Helen Cresswell
Spooky fact one: I rather like cemeteries, especially old ones like Highgate. I find them peaceful and interesting.
Spooky fact two: When I studied art and photography, an awful lot of my projects were based in cemeteries, come to think about it.
Spooky fact three: I dressed up in Pre-Raphaelite style dresses to do a gothic horror photo story in the local stately home for my art ‘A’ level.
Spooky fact four: The first horror film I watched was A Nightmare on Elm Street when I was eleven. My older friend wouldn’t let me hide behind a cushion and I had nightmares for weeks – was too scared to sleep!
Spooky fact five: My worst nightmares when I was a little child featured the Smash Makes Mash robots and the green-armed ghost in the credits of Scooby Doo.