The Wind in the Wall

Sally Gardner

Illustrated by Rovina Cai

Age 12 +
26 September 2019
32 pages


'I have no idea how long I have been incarcerated in these ancient walls . . . Let me explain how I find myself in this predicament . . .'

Set in the hot houses of a stately home in eighteenth century England, a gardener falls from grace when the Duke sets him the impossible task of growing prize pineapples fit to show off in high society.

The gardener's star falls further when he is replaced by Mr Amicus, a pineapple 'specialist', whom he believes to be a charlatan and a trickster - but nevertheless miraculously produces fruit to delight the Duke.

Determined to uncover Mr Amicus's tricks, the gardener sneaks into the pineapple house to uncover the mysterious shrouded birdcage Mr Amicus carries with him. And what he finds changes his life for ever . . .

A cautionary tale with echoes of myth and fairy tale, this bewitching fable will make you careful what you wish for.
A powerful and enigmatic fable steeped in magic and mystery, thick with the scent of tropical fruit, massaged egos, tragic love and nefarious deeds.
The Wind in the Wall is a strange book at first: you are unsure where the tale is going to take you, but this is what I enjoyed as there is intrigue and mystery throughout. With foundations in fairytales, folklore and myth, the story enchants the reader and I found myself hypnotised by the accompanying ethereal illustrations.

The story is set in the eighteenth century when high society lauded those that could produce tropical fruit and flowers. The gardener of a large estate is set a task of growing pineapples but when he fails, a 'Mr Amicus' is brought in who proves to be suspicious and conniving. Spurred on by Mr Amicus's success with the fruit and with strange lights emanating from the greenhouse, the gardener is tempted to spy on the growing process and uncovers a secret that proves dangerous.

This book will be devoured quickly by older readers due to the short prose and stunning illustrations: this is no bad thing. Students today need books just like this to entrance and distract them from the pressures of exams and set texts. Reluctant readers as well will be able to complete the book easily, gaining confidence and using the illustrations to enhance the text.

A short, beautifully illustrated book like this to read at lunch time could work wonders and is a must for school libraries. I hope this signifies a change in publishing and recognises the importance of illustrated books for older children and young adults.
You are swept away by what happens, but at the same time you don't really know for sure what's going on. Just as we loved our childhood picture books, The Wind in the Wall enchants the adult reader.