The Secret of Platform 13 – Eva Ibbotson

The Secret of Platform 13 is the first children’s book I read from Eva Ibbotson, and it certainly won’t be the last. I read her stories for adults called A Glove Shop in Vienna, and I thought I wouldn’t read her other books. But as soon as I read The Secret of Platform 13, I knew I had to read most of her children’s books.


The Secret of Platform 13 is full of magic; there are beautiful and fascinating creatures, a gorgeous hidden island and an exciting story. The people and many wonderful creatures living on the secret island are delighted because their fair king and queen have a baby boy. This boy will become their king one day, and the people are sure he’ll make a good king because the king and queen are fair and always kind to them.

The only way you can step on this beautiful island is from Platform 13 in King’s Cross Station. The doors to the island open only once every nine years for a short while, and if you miss the date, you have to wait for another nine years. So, when the prince was kidnapped in London, the king and queen and the whole island were desperate. Because the little prince was kidnapped right before the doors closed, and there was nothing the nannies could do to save him. They had to wait for nine years!

The Secret of Platform 13 - Eva Ibbotson

Thanks to the friendly ghosts still living in London, they were able to locate the prince. The king and queen created a team to rescue their one and only child from the kidnappers in London. They had to take back the prince to the island on time; otherwise, they had to wait for another nine years. It is a long time to be desperate, and no one wants that.

The rescue team that go to London and try to take back the prince consists of a wizard, an ogre, a fairy and a very young hag. They are all excellent characters and are sure they’ll take back the prince. But after nine years, the boy they found is a horrible one, and no one likes him! What went wrong? And who is that nine-year-old, kind and highly sensitive boy called Ben?

There are many comments about the similarity between Harry Potter and The Secret of Platform 13 (this was written three years before). I didn’t read Harry Potter, and I don’t think I will. But I realised that London and King’s Cross Station is highly inspiring among authors. They make excellent settings, don’t they?

Many children and adults will enjoy this story because there is something for everyone in The Secret of Platform 13. The 25th Anniversary edition is illıstrated by Beatriz Castro; they are adorable and contribute a lot to the story. If you are looking for a good story to read with your children, look no more. You’ll enjoy this a lot!

The Secret of Platform 13 - Eva Ibbotson

The Secret of Platform 13

Rediscover the magical secrets at King’s Cross station in a 25th anniversary illustrated edition of Eva Ibbotson’s classic, The Secret of Platform 13.

Under Platform 13 at King’s Cross Station, there is a secret door that leads to a magical island . . .

It appears only once every nine years. And when it opens, four mysterious figures step into the streets of London. A wizard, an ogre, a fey and a young hag have come to find the prince of their kingdom, stolen as a baby nine years before.

But the prince has become a horrible rich boy called Raymond Trottle, who doesn’t understand magic and is determined not to be rescued.

The Secret of Platform 13 is an exciting magical adventure from Eva Ibbotson, the award-winning author of Journey to the River Sea, in a special edition illustrated by Beatriz Castro. Discover more of the magical world with Sibéal Pounder’s exciting adventure sequel, Beyond Platform 13, based on characters from Eva’s original.

‘This kind of fun will never fail to delight’ Philip Pullman

Eva Ibbotson

Eva Maria Charlotte Michelle Ibbotson (née Wiesner; born 21 January 1925 – 20 October 2010) was a British novelist born in Austria, known for her children’s literature. Some of her novels for adults have been reissued for the young adult market. The historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001) won her the Smarties Prize in category 9–11 years, garnered an unusual commendation as runner-up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists. She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was among four finalists for the same award in 2012.

Eva Ibbotson began writing with the television drama Linda Came Today, which the British “Television Playhouse” series broadcast in December 1962. Her first English-language book was The Great Ghost Rescue, a juvenile fantasy novel published in 1975 by Macmillan in the UK and Walck in the US, with illustrations by Simon Stern and Giulio Maestro respectively.

Ibbotson wrote more than a dozen books for children, including Which Witch?, The Secret of Platform 13, Dial-a-Ghost, Monster Mission, Journey to the River Sea, The Star of Kazan, The Beasts of Clawstone Castle, and The Dragonfly Pool. She won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize for Journey to the River Sea, and has been a runner up for major awards in British children’s literature several times. WorldCat libraries report holding Which Witch? and Journey to the River Sea in more than five and ten languages, respectively.

Eva Ibbotson

The books are imaginative and humorous, and most of them feature magical creatures and places. Ibbotson has said that she disliked thinking about the supernatural, and created the characters because she wanted to decrease her readers’ fear of such things. Some of the books, particularly Journey to the River Sea, also reflect Ibbotson’s love of nature. She wrote Journey in honour of her husband, a former naturalist who had just died; the book had been in her head for years. Ibbotson had said she disliked “financial greed and a lust for power”, and often created antagonists in her books who have these characteristics.

Her love of Austria is evident in works such as The Star of Kazan, A Song for Summer and Magic Flutes/The Reluctant Heiress. These books, set primarily in the Austrian countryside, display the author’s love of nature.

Ibbotson was also noted for several works of fiction for adults. Several have been reissued successfully for the young-adult market, some under different titles. Ibbotson was surprised by the repackaging, as she believed they were books for adults, but they have been very popular with teenage audiences. Three are The Secret Countess (originally published as A Countess Below Stairs), A Company of Swans, and Magic Flutes (in some editions published as The Reluctant Heiress)

Ibbotson’s writing for adults and teens took a new direction in 1992, when she began to move toward romantic novels that dealt with the harsh realities of war and prejudice. Two of her acclaimed books are set in Europe at the time of World War II and reflect her experience of the time. The first of this setting, The Morning Gift (1993), became a best-seller. Her last novel for adults was A Song for Summer (1997), also set during World War II.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Children’s Books for Life!

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