Nachts im Park ist alles anders
This was an easy read, aimed at children from about 10, and one I really enjoyed - mainly because of where the story is set: The palace grounds of my hometown.
Ludwigsburg has extensive and beautiful palace grounds which I have regularly been visiting since I was a baby; you have seen them often featured on my blog.
(For more, you can click on the label "Ludwigsburg" in the upper part of this page, or put "palace grounds" in the search box in the top left corner.)
As I got older and started to walk and talk, of course the Märchengarten ("garden of fairytales") became the most attractive part for me.
There, as if by magic, the characters and places I knew from the story books read to me by my parents and grandparents came alive. By the time I went to school, I often dreamt of sneaking into the park at night and checking on the fairytale scenes there.
The book I am actually trying to review here tells exactly that story: At night, the park comes alive.
Some of the fairytale characters, dummies during the day, are living, breathing, thinking creatures at night. They are a bit scary, like their story character demands.
In the end, a man (a real human being) loses his life, and others are in danger until an old puzzle can be solved and the figures turn into lifeless dummies again.
This is cleverly put against the background of a growing-up story: Young Ludwig and his little sister have lost their parents in a car accident. They live with their grandma, but the elderly woman has serious health problems which prevent her from taking proper care of the siblings.
Social Services threaten to separate them from grandma and each other, and to avoid this, Ludwig hatches a plan: One night, he manages to bring his small family into the park just
across the road from where they live. In an old gardener's house (the house really exists, like all the other places mentioned in the book), they set up their new living quarters, well hidden from the prying eyes of Social Services and nosy neighbours.
But as they become more and more aware of strange goings-on in the park at night, with each passing day and week they spend in hiding, the situation becomes more dangerous.
For the reader, tension remains until the end, even though quite a few developments are rather foreseeable (it is a children's book after all).
Who will "get to" Ludwig, Matti and their grandma first - Social Services, the police or the out-of-control fairytale characters?
As I said, I really enjoyed this book mainly because of its setting and because it picked up my own imagination as a child. Without the link to a place I have known so well all my life it probably would not have interested me at all.
But the author does a good job of keeping the story going, and telling dramatic events without them being too scary for children. This was (of course) a free download at the Kindle shop.
The author (who was completely unknown to me) is only one year older than I. She grew up in another town near Stuttgart and often came to visit Ludwigsburg and its fairytale garden during her childhood and youth. She now lives in a small town within walking distance and has written several children's books set at places of interest in our region.