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The Secret of Platform 13: 07/30/09

Although I've read Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson I hadn't heard of The Secret of Platform 13, that is until the recent accusations of her estate over possible plagiarism in the Harry Potter series. Curious over that, I checked out the book from my local library and loved it.

The parents though in The Secret of Platform 13 are alive and well, living as the King and Queen of the Island (aka Avalon and many other well known names). Their son was stolen from them the last time the gump opened under Platform 13 in Kings Cross Station. Now that the gump has reopened (ten years later?) a rescue crew has gone to bring the lost prince home.

Gump being a nonsense word though ends up having many definitions. If you're an American and a fan of L. Frank Baum (as I am), "gump" will bring to mind a magical creature made up of the odds and ends of a typical Victorian attic. Most importantly though it will have a talking moose head tied to the front of two sofas latched together. What you won't immediately think of is a lump of dirt that sometimes opens to a magical world.

Most of the book though deals with the rescue of Raymond Trotter, the presumed prince of the Island. The rescuers have help from the grandson of the old nanny, both of who live in the basement of Trotter Towers.

Reviews I've read of The Secret of Platform 13 compare the relationship between Raymond Trotter and Ben to Dudley and Harry. They also see similarities in how Mrs. Trotter and Mrs. Dursley treat both boys. Yes, there are physical similarities between Raymond and Dudley but that's because they both fall on the old cliché of making very wealthy people spoiled and fat. As far as the two women go, Mrs. Trotter is actually nice to Ben than Mrs. Dursley is to Harry. Mrs. Trotter doesn't lock the boy up under the stairs, don't deprive him of food or deprive him of love and affection. He is treated as a servant, not as an abused child. He gets love and affection from the woman he believes to be his grandmother.

So having read most (not all) of the Harry Potter series, I don't think Harry Potter plagiarizes The Secret of Platform 13. I do however think that Ibbotson is the better writer.

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Friday, July, 31, 2009 at 07:38:26

Nicola Manning

I love this book. It's may favourite of Ibbotson's (so far)and I've read a few. Also agree, she's the better author.

Comment #2: Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 15:04:13


It's only my second Ibbotson book. I read Which Witch so long ago I barely remember it. I plan to see if my local library has any more of her books.

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