Texas Bluebonnet Award 2015-2016

Official TBA Master List Resources Compiled by the TBA Program Committee

The Night Gardener


The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier

TheNightGardener_Auxier_Jonathanfor print

Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script

Book Trailer (YouTube) (TeacherTube)

Author Interview


Podcast Interview with Jonathan Auxier (1 hour):

Biography for Jonathan Auxier:

Night Blooming Flowers:
Ten flowers that bloom only at night:

Night blooming flowers:

Beautiful flowers with bloom only at night:

Why moon flowers bloom only at night:

Irish Potato Famine:
Interactive game on the Irish Potato Famine:

History Place on the Irish Potato Famine:

Eyewitness to history on the Irish Potato Famine:

Britannica on the Irish Potato Famine:

Irish Potato Famine Video with definitions of famine:

Irish Potato Famine Video:

Storytelling Websites and Resources:
Tejas Storytelling Festival:

American Folklore spooky stories:

Campfire stories for boy scouts:

5 spooky stories to tell children:

9 scary campfire stories:

Storytelling Activities and Lesson Plans:

A Pocketful of Stories. Classroom Storytelling Activities:

Hurdy Gurdy:
Matthias Loibner Hurdy Gurdy Master (6:08):

Hurdy Gurdy demonstrated and played by Matthias Loibner (6:32):

The Hurdy Gurdy explained:

The Melody of the Hurdy Gurdy:

The Drones of the Hurdy Gurdy:

The Trompette of the Hurdy Gurdy:

Attacking Plants:
Vampire weed attacks other plants (1:34)

Time-lapse: Attack of the parasitic plant (2:34):

Videos of 2 plants that are carnivorous (3:58):

Carnivorous Plants of Texas Video (scroll down. It’s on the right side) (2:01):

Carnivorous Hooded Pitcher Plant (4:25):

When plants attack Texas Parks and Wildlife (8:50):

Jamestown Jams Discussion Questions for the Night Gardener:

Game of Observation:
How observant are you. If someone was in your room when you were not there would you notice?  Have children look around a room.  Have them step out while you change something.  Have students try to figure out what is anything is different.

Discuss how you would feel if you noticed someone had been in your home while you were gone.  Would you feel differently if nothing was taken?

Have a storytelling concert put on by students.

Bring in a professional storyteller to talk about his/her craft.

If the tree decides what you want most what do you think the tree would choose for you and why. On an index card write down what you think the tree would choose for you and drop the card into the hole of a paper tree.  Draw the cards out one-by-one and read them. Have everyone guess whose greatest desire it is.

If the key fits:
The children in the manor house kept ‘borrowing’ the key to the secret room. Hide keys and have students search for them. Have students make copies of the keys from one of the two websites listed below. After the keys are made have them return original keys.  Have students go to a lock and see if their key will fit the lock.  If the lock opens they will get a prize from inside. If you borrow several padlocks then everyone can eventually open a door and get a prize.

How to make a spare key from a soda bottle:

How to make a key with a groove in it from a soda can:



Have you ever had the hair on the back of your neck stand up?  Have you ever been so scared you got goosebumps? Have you ever felt you weren’t alone but didn’t see anyone? If you enjoy reading books that give you that creepy feeling and chills down to the bone, this ghost story is for you.



Fiction Books About Creepy Old Houses:
Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. Looking for excitement, Coraline ventures through a mysterious door into a world that is similar, yet disturbingly different from her own, where she must challenge a gruesome entity in order to save herself, her parents, and the souls of three others. (NoveList)

Fiction Horror and Scary Books:
Kozlowsky, M. P. Juniper Berry. When eleven-year-old Juniper begins to suspect something is wrong with her mother and father, she and her friend Giles discover they have been selling their souls, pieces at a time, to a silver-tongued creature in a terrifying fairy-tale underworld. (NoveList)

Fiction Books on Good vs Evil:
Milford, Kate. The Boneshaker. When Jake Limberleg brings his traveling medicine show to a small Missouri town in 1913, thirteen-year-old Natalie senses that something is wrong and, after investigating, learns that her love of automata and other machines makes her the only one who can set things right. (NoveList)

Books on Fantasy Fiction and England:
Barry, Dave. Peter & the Starcatchers. Soon after Peter, an orphan, sets sail from England on the ship Never Land, he befriends and assists Molly, a young Starcatcher, whose mission is to guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island. (NoveList)

Barrie, J. M. (James Matthew). Peter Pan. The Darling children have adventures in Never-Never Land with Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up. (NoveList)

Ibbotson, Eva. The secret of Platform 13. Odge Gribbie, a young hag, accompanies an old wizard, a gentle fey, and a giant ogre on their mission through a magical tunnel from their island to London to rescue their King and Queen’s son who had been stolen as an infant. (NoveList)

McCaughrean, Geraldine. Peter Pan in scarlet. Peter Pan, the Darling children, and the fairy Fireflyer must save Neverland from the threat of nightmares and Time. (NoveList)

Riordan, Rick. The red pyramid. Brilliant Egyptologist Dr. Julius Kane accidentally unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes the doctor to oblivion and forces his two children to embark on a dangerous journey, bringing them closer to the truth about their family and its links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs. (NoveList)

Books on Fantasy and Orphans:
Yolen, Jane. Merlin. Merlin, now twelve-years-old, begins to come into his magic while being held captive by a band of wild folk. (NoveList)

Books on Fantasy Fiction and Magic:
Rutkoski, Marie. The Cabinet of Wonders.Twelve-year-old Petra, accompanied by her magical tin spider, goes to Prague hoping to retrieve the enchanted eyes the Prince of Bohemia took from her father, and is aided in her quest by a Roma boy and his sister. (NoveList)

Rutkoski, Marie. The Celestial Globe. Thirteen-year-old Petra, her tin spider Astrophil, and their Roma friends Neel and Tomik are surprised by revelations about Dee, Kit, and Petra’s father as they face Prince Rodolfo of Bohemia, who will do anything to possess a powerful object, the Celestial Globe. (NoveList)

Books on Fantasy Fiction and Thieves:
Newbound, Andrew. Ghoul strike! When twelve-year-old, psychic ghost hunter Alannah Malarra faces demons from another dimension, rather than the treasure-hoarding ghosts she is used to, she needs the help of protectors from the Attack-ready Network of Global Evanescent Law-enforcers (A.N.G.E.L.) police force to help her quell the dangerous uprising. (NoveList)

Prineas, Sarah. Lost. Young wizard’s apprentice Connwaer travels to the city of Desh to find the source of the malevolent shadowmen who are plaguing Wellmet City. (NoveList)

Prineas, Sarah. The magic thief. When a local pickpocket puts his hand in the pocket belonging to the wizard Nevery, Conn gets more than he expected when he is drawn into the world of wizardry as a result of his mischievous deed. (NoveList)

Books on Fantasy Fiction:
Fraustino, Lisa Rowe. The hole in the wall. An imaginative eleven-year-old named Sebby discovers that the strange things he has been seing are real, and connected somehow with the strip-mining operation that has destroyed his town, but getting help from his bickering family seems unlikely. (NoveList)

Fiction Books on Ghosts:
McKissack, Pat. The dark-thirty: Southern tales of the supernatural. A collection of ghost stories with African American themes, designed to be told during the Dark Thirty–the half hour before nightfall–when ghosts seem all too believable. (NoveList)

Preller, James. Home sweet horror. After the death of his mother, eight-year-old Liam and his father and sister move to a new house for a fresh start, but Liam soon discovers that the old house is haunted. (NoveList)

San Souci, Robert D. Dare to be scared: thirteen stories to chill and thrill. Thirteen short stories about ghosts, monsters, spirits, and other scary creatures will give the reader thrills and chills. (NoveList)

Schwartz, Alvin. More scary stories to tell in the dark. More traditional and modern-day stories of ghosts, witches, vampires, “jump” stories, and scary songs. (NoveList)

Weyn, Suzanne. The phantom music box. When a mysterious music box seems to follow Emma home from the Haunted Museum, she becomes better at ballet than she had ever imagined, and she must decide if her new talents are an acceptable trade-off for the hold the box seems to have over her. (NoveList)

Weyn, Suzanne. The Titanic locket. After her sister opens a locket at the Haunted Museum in England prior to her family’s cruise aboard the Titanic 2, Samantha begins noticing strange things during the voyage and her sister begins calling her by a different name. (NoveList)



The Night Gardener.
Auxier, Jonathan (author).
May 2014. 384p. Abrams/Amulet, hardcover, $16.95 (9781419711442). Grades 6-9. 

REVIEW.  First published June 1, 2014 (Booklist).

Auxier’s second novel is part morality play, part ghost story, and all enthralling. Molly and Kip are Irish orphans seeking employment in England after their parents die in a shipwreck. Brave, quick-thinking Molly is solicitous of her younger disabled brother, and she feels guilty because she has managed to hide the truth about their parents’ death from him, spinning yarns about their travels and promising they will all be together soon. Molly finds them work as servants in a distinctly creepy, isolated country manor where a huge tree growing into the house is casting a spell over the inhabitants, among other mysterious goings-on. Auxier, like Molly, is a born storyteller, and he weaves a tale that will keep readers glued to the page. The outcomes may be expected, but the journeys are riveting, while the predictability conjures the comfort and satisfaction of a classic fairy tale.— Debbie Carton

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Auxier, Jonathan. The Night Gardener. Illustrated by Patrick Arrasmith. May 2014
ISBN 978-1-4197-1144-2
Paperback: 9781419715310, eBook: 9781613126608.

The attempts of Molly’s family to escape nineteenth-century Ireland’s Great Famine result in tragedy when her parents are lost at sea and Molly and her little brother Kip are stuck in England. Knowing they need more than Molly’s splendid tales to keep them fed, clothed, and healthy, they quell their ominous feelings about their new position at a remote house with a creepy tree. The employers, a pale and haunted family of four, clearly have an unhealthy relationship with the tree, a vile magical entity tended by an undead man who steals the children’s souls drop by drop to feed the wish-granting plant. Molly realizes that the seductive gratification of granted wishes is ultimately destructive, as it allows her to escape from the truth, and she resolves to save herself, her brother, and the family from the evil that is consuming them all. Molly is staunch and defiant, a sturdy protagonist who is loyal if not always wise in her efforts to protect those she cares for. As he did in Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes (BCCB 10/11), Auxier achieves an ideal mix of adventure and horror, offering all of it in elegant, atmospheric language that forces the reader to slow down a bit and revel in both the high-quality plot and the storytelling itself. An informative author’s note offers a bit of background into the Great Famine in Ireland, and how kids like Kip and Molly might have found themselves as orphans in England at such young ages.

Horn Book:
The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier
Intermediate, Middle School    Amulet/Abrams    371 pp.
5/14   978-1-4197-1144-2   $16.95   g

“Riding atop the [cart’s] bench were two children, a girl and a boy, both with striking red hair. The girl was named Molly, and the boy, her brother, was Kip. And they were riding to their deaths.” Or so it seems. The siblings have landed in England during the midst of the Irish Potato Famine. Waiting for their parents to rejoin them, they have found work at the once-proud Windsor family’s stately but decrepit mansion in the countryside. The house appears to exert a malevolent force on its inhabitants, and the children gradually become aware of this evil and its increasing danger, most especially the Night Gardener, who saps the living of their life force to feed the wish-granting tree. All proper scary stories require a spooky, menacing atmosphere, and Auxier (Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes) delivers the goods with his precise descriptions of the gothic setting and teasing hints of mystery and suspense. While the book partakes of many familiar tropes and themes—orphans and their cruel taskmasters, bullies transformed by kindness, the slippery slope of greed and wantonness, the power of storytelling—there’s enough of a fresh spin on them that readers should be captivated. JONATHAN HUNT
(May/June 2014 Horn Book Magazine)

Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com

School Library Journal:
★Auxier, Jonathan. The Night Gardener. 384p. Abrams/Amulet. May 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419711442.

Gr 4-6–Storytelling and the secret desires of the heart wind together in this atmospheric novel that doubles as a ghost tale. Irish immigrants to England, Molly and Kip make their way to the Windsor house in search of employment. The great house stands in the shadow of a menacing tree, which locals speak of only in fearful whispers. Despite her young age and the warnings of a local storyteller, Molly uses the power of her own words to secure work, but soon realizes that all is not right in the house. Constance, Bertrand, Penny, and Alistair Windsor each struggle with personal demons, and strange footprints appear at night. A malevolent spirit, the Night Gardener, haunts the estate, dooming its inhabitants with foul dreams while the tree grants wishes to entrap the recipients. Molly and Kip must face their own dark secrets to release the Gardener’s hold and end his evil enchantments. Auxier gives readers a spooky story with depth and dimension. Molly’s whimsical tales illustrate life’s essential lessons even as they entertain. As the characters face the unhealthy pull of the tree’s allurements, they grow and change, revealing unexpected personality traits. Storytelling as a force to cope with life’s challenges is subtly expressed and adds complexity to the fast-paced plot. Readers of Mary Downing Hahn or Peg Kehret’s ghost novels will connect with the supernatural elements and the independent child protagonists of Auxier’s tale of things that go bump in the night.–Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT

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