Eager, Edward. The Time Garden. Bodecker, 1999.
Edward Eager's literary adventures in child play and time travel never fail to please, and The Time Garden is no exception to this general rule. Here Eager blends history, time travel, and a gentle love of puns into a really splendid children's story about adventure, obedience, and the importance of using language precisely.
I'm hesitant to write a great deal about this book, as it's full of linguistic puns and clever twists that I'd hate to spoil for future readers, but the simple plot has to do with two sets of siblings (Jack, Roger, Eliza, and Ann) who all find themselves spending a summer holiday with their aunt, Mrs. Whiton, in New England (their parents are otherwise occupied in London). While teenaged Jack is off courting half the girls in the northernmost states of America, his younger sibling and cousins rapidly discover the many magical properties of the back garden, and soon find themselves on a whirlwind of adventures.
So long as one objects neither to time travel nor to magical creatures who might facilitate such travel, this is a completely wholesome and delightful book, entirely free from objectionable or questionable content, yet still able to offer an action-packed (and historically informative) story that will delight not only small children, but parents and older siblings who might wish to read along. This would also make an excellent Christmas or birthday gift for young readers who enjoy magic, history, and adventure stories.