The Secret of Platform 13

The Secret of Platform 13

Audio CD

$0.00 View All Available Formats & Editions


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.

Shortlisted for the Smarties Prize, The Secret of Platform 13 is an exciting magical adventure from Eva Ibbotson, the award-winning author of Journey to the River Sea.

'This kind of fun will never fail to delight' Philip Pullman

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780230700383
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 12/14/2007
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 4.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, but when the Nazis came to power her family fled to England and she was sent to boarding school. She became a writer while bringing up her four children, and her bestselling novels have been published around the world. Journey to the River Sea won the Nestlé Gold Award and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. Some of her other young fiction titles include The Great Ghost Rescue, Which Witch? and Dial a Ghost. Eva died peacefully in October 2010 at the age of eighty-five.
Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna in 1925 and moved to England with her father when the Nazis came into power. Ibbotson wrote more than twenty books for children and young adults, many of which garnered nominations for major awards for children's literature in the UK, including the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize and the Whitbread Prize. Eva's critically acclaimed Journey to the River Sea won the Smarties Gold Medal in 2001. Set in the Amazon, it was written in honour of her deceased husband Alan, a former naturalist. Imaginative and humorous, Eva's books often convey her love of nature, in particular the Austrian countryside, which is evident in works such as The Star Of Kazan and A Song For Summer. Eva passed away at her home in Newcastle on October 20th 2010. Her final book, One Dog and His Boy, was published in May 2011.

Alex T. Smith has drawn and written stories since he could hold a pencil. After considering several career options (space traveller, cake maker, professional rabbit), Alex decided to train to do the job he’d wanted to do since he was five – an illustrator specializing in the world of children’s publishing.

Alex graduated with a first-class degree in Illustration in 2006 and also won second place in the Macmillan Prize for Illustration in his final year. Since then Alex has gone on to work for a wide variety of clients, not just in the publishing industry, as well as writing and illustrating his own picture books, many of which have won prizes and have been read on TV during the Bedtime Hour on the CBeebies channel. Alex is also the creator of the bestselling Claude series for early readers, now an animated TV series on Disney Junior. His wonderful Christmas adventure How Winston Delivered Christmas is his first title for Macmillan.

When not working, Alex enjoys doodling in his sketchbook, reading, people-watching and eavesdropping. He is also a big fan of cake and a nice cup of tea. He lives with and under the constant ‘supervision’ of his canine companions in Warwickshire.

Reading Group Guide


Ghosts and hags, wizards and banshees, mermaids and mistmakers—all are part of the magical worlds that Eva Ibbotson creates in her fantasy books for children. Even her more realistic stories are set in exotic places like the Amazon River in South America, where the natural world creates a mystical sense of wonder. Ibbotson introduces us to an array of fascinating characters and creatures: some from real life, some from folklore and mythology, and some completely original. What readers discover in her books is a love for the natural world in all its forms, plus fast-moving plots that emphasize the importance of showing kindness to others and never being quick to judge those who are different from ourselves. Humor plays an important role in her stories, for they are meant to be entertaining above all. Yet long after the last page is turned, the deeper meanings that emerge from these rollicking adventures linger in the reader's mind.


About the Book

The Secret of Platform 13

Hidden under Platform 13 in King's Cross Station is a gump, a secret entrance to another world. This doorway opens only for nine days every nine years. During those nine days, beings are free to come and go between our world and a magical Island, where fantastic creatures and humans live together sensibly and peacefully, shrouded from view by the hazy clouds created by lovable animals known as mistmakers. When the infant prince of the Island is kidnapped to our world by the unpleasant Mrs. Trottle, a strange band of rescuers is assembled nine years later to bring him back, and a fast-paced tale of magic, mayhem, and mistaken identity ensues. At first the rescuers are delighted to meet Ben, a sweet boy who could be the prince in spite of his lowly status in the Trottle house. But it soon becomes apparent that the real prince must be Raymond, the Trottles' rather obnoxious, spoiled son. Raymond, however, has no interest in leaving his pampered life for a mystical island. One of the rescuers, a young hag named Odge Gribble, is a tough, no-nonsense type who is determined on success. What she doesn't expect is that, in the end, she'll care much more about being a friend than a hero.



Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, Austria, in the years before World War II. Her mother was a playwright and her father a scientist, but the marriage was unhappy and they soon went their separate ways. Eva's early childhood was spent shuttling back and forth in trains across Europe, from one parent to the other. When Hitler rose to power, Eva's father went to Great Britain, and her mother, after remarriage to a Russian philosopher, soon followed him. Eva switched languages and spent the rest of her childhood in a progressive boarding school, striving to become British. After taking a degree in Physiology at London University, she went on to do research at the University of Cambridge, but she found the experiments she had to perform on living animals very distressing. The results of her experiments were "peculiar," she relates, so when a fellow student, Alan Ibbotson, suggested she could do less harm to science by leaving it and marrying him, she accepted without hesitation. The couple moved to Newcastle, in the north of England, where they raised four children and Eva began writing short stories. When the youngest son started school, she wrote her first full-length novel for children and continued to write for children and adults alternately, much to the delight of her many readers.


Related Titles

The Arkadians

by Lloyd Alexander
HC: Dutton Children's Books, 0-525-45415-2
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-038073-6

The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man
by Lloyd Alexander
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-130704-8

Ella Enchanted
by Gail Carson Levine
HC: HarperCollins Children's Books
PB: HarperTrophy

The Ghost Belonged to Me
by Richard Peck
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-038671-8

Ghosts I Have Been
by Richard Peck
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-131096-0

Going Through the Gate
by Janet Anderson
HC: Dutton Children's Books, 0-525-45836-0
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-130698-X

James and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl, illus. by Lane Smith
HC: Knopf Books for Young Readers
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-037424-8

The Shaman's Apprentice: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest
by Mark J. Plotkin and Lynne Cherry
HC: Gulliver Books

The National Trust
The National Trust is an organization dedicated to the preservation of the countryside, coastline, and important buildings and gardens in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This site lists interesting places to visit.

National Geographic
Site of the National Geographic Society. Look up maps of London and the Amazon River. Search the sea around the British Isles for places where the Island might be found.

Ghost Watch UK
An English organization that specializes in paranormal investigations. Their site includes stories and anecdotes of people's encounters with ghosts and ghostly phenomena.



Magical beings are central to many of your books. Have you always been interested in the supernatural?

No, curiously I was never particularly interested in the supernatural—quite the contrary. Ghost stories frightened me badly as a child, although I didn't really believe that ghosts existed. I think I began to write about ghosts and witches and magic generally to make children less afraid; to turn these beings into creatures much like us but of course able to do more interesting things. My ghosts and witches are more like underdogs, people on the fringes who need sympathy and help. And the witches in Which Witch? are based on my relatives—the nice witches anyway!

Your main characters all seem to come up against people who are more interested in money and power than in feelings and compassion. Is this a theme you consciously set out to explore in every book?

I think of my books as entertainments, a kind of present I give the reader, and any serious themes that come up are a by-product. But of course when I am creating "baddies" for the purposes of the plot, I find myself choosing people with the characteristics I dislike most—and there is nothing I despise more than financial greed and a lust for power.

Humor is an important element in most of your stories. What do you think is the role that humor plays in shaping our lives and our personalities?

I don't really know how to define humor or how to describe it; it is something you have to show. But I do know that both in my personal life and in my work I would be completely lost without humor...without the ability to turn things upside down, to extract something ridiculous out of the most solemn moment. Incidentally, when I'm writing I find humor—jokes that aren't forced or silly—by far the hardest thing to pull off.

In Journey to the River Sea you have written a more realistic story with a strong theme about the importance of nature to the human spirit. What was your inspiration for this story?

I wrote Journey to the River Sea not long after my husband died. He was a committed naturalist, someone who combined a deep knowledge of animals and plants with a spiritual outlook that had been strengthened by his war service in India and Burma. I think I felt at that time that I needed a rest from my usual fantasy stories—though goodness knows the Amazon landscape is fantastical enough in its own right! I wanted to write a story that was simple and old-fashioned and direct. But I have to say that the reasons one gives for writing anything tend to be made up afterwards. At the time you just find yourself doing it!


  • The world of nature plays an important role in Eva Ibbotson's books. Often her characters' personalities are shown through their relationship to the natural world and the way they interact with creatures in the wild. Compare the different reactions to nature of these characters: Ben and Raymond; Oliver and Fulton; Minette, Fabio, and Lambert; The Aunts (Etta, Coral, and Myrtle) and Mr. Sprott; Maia and Gwendolyn/Beatrice; Mrs. Carter and Miss Minton; Mr. Carter and Bernard Taverner.
  • In each of these stories, children must find resources inside themselves to face difficult challenges and changes in their lives, many times without the help of adults. The author says of Maia at the beginning of Journey to the River Sea, "She was afraid...afraid in the way of someone who is alone in the world" (p.2). Which of these characters believes that he or she is alone, and how does that affect the way they face their challenges: Maia, Clovis, Finn, Minette, Fabio, Oliver, Ben, Odge Gribble, Arriman, Terence?
  • Help can often come from unexpected sources in Ibbotson's stories. Look carefully at each of the books to see which characters or creatures are most helpful to the protagonist. Was it obvious to you as the reader that important help would come in this way? How often were you surprised by the power of the helpers? Have you had this experience in your own life, that help came from unexpected sources?
  • Many of the evil characters in the books share certain personality traits. What do these characters have in common: Mrs. Trottle, Mr. Sprott, Fulton and Frieda Snodde-Brittle, Mr. and Mrs. Carter, Madame Olympia? What do these characters tell you about the personality traits that the author dislikes? Do you know people who exhibit these qualities?
  • Showing kindness toward others and especially those who appear to be "different" and "strange" is a quality that is shared by many of the main characters. Discuss the ways in which Maia, Miss Minton, Ben, Belladonna, Oliver, and the Aunts demonstrate this important character trait. What is the author telling us, through these characters, about exhibiting this quality in our own lives? How can we translate this theme from exotic and fantastic settings into our everyday world?
  • At the end of Journey to the River Sea, Miss Minton says to Mr. Murray, "Perhaps I'm mad—and the professor, too—but I think children must lead big lives...if it is in them to do so" (p. 283). What does she mean by this statement, and how do you interpret the phrase "big lives"? Which characters in the other books are capable of leading "big lives," and which of them are not? Discuss the personality traits that make it possible for children—and adults—to "lead big lives."
  • Ibbotson says of the Carters, "...they were far too selfish to want anybody, but they needed her [Maia]" (p. 37). What is the difference between wanting and needing somebody or something? Discuss this difference between wanting and needing as you see it in the actions and feelings of Arriman, Belladonna, the Wilkinson family, Oliver, Mrs. Trottle, Ben, Nanny Brown, the Aunts, Minette and Fabio, Maia, Miss Minton, Finn, Clovis, the Carters, and other characters of your own choice. How does it affect your feelings about a character when you make this distinction?
  • When Maia first reads about the Amazon, she encounters these words: "For whether a place is a hell or a heaven rests in yourself, and those who go with courage and an open mind may find themselves in Paradise" (p. 6). Discuss this idea with relation to the setting of each of the books. How does each character's perception of a place affect the way he or she reacts to that place? How does perception of place affect you in your own life?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Secret of Platform 13 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
EdGoldberg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Gump, hidden by Platform 13 from the old London railroad station, leads to the Island, an idyllic place where everyone is accepted, ghosts, hags, people, wizards and assorted others. It opens once every nine years to allow traversing back and forth between London and the Island.When the Island's infant Prince is kidnapped while in the care of his three nurses during their quick sojourn to London, the King and Queen must wait nine years to get him back. This is the story and what a marvelous story it is. There's a reason Eva Ibbotson is such a renowned author.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A world exists beyond ours and every nine years a portal opens under Platform 13 at Kings Cross Station. The last time it opened the prince was lost and now a wizard, an ogre, a fey and a young hag journey through to find him. Only when they find him he's horrible and they're not sure that they want to take him back.It's sweet and fun and completely predictable, but still it's not a bad read. I absolutely adored the knitting-needle wielding bodyguard. Sweet.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Three nursemaids venture off their magical island during the once-every-nine-years open window between the island and the real world. In the process, their charge, the baby prince of the king and queen of the island, is stolen by an evil woman desperately longing for a child. The king and queen are bereft. Finally, nine years pass and the royal couple sends an entourage of magical beings to find and rescue the lost prince.
Runa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Secret of Platform 13 is the book everyone reads once they've finished Harry Potter and are dying for more. I first read it in a 4th grade book club, complete with brownies and all, in which I thought it was a good read, but entirely too forgettable. I still do think that Which Witch? is Ibbotson's best work by far, but this story is an engaging one as well. I could go on and on with the plentiful and slightly obvious Harry Potter parallels, so I'll spare you for now. I recommend this quirky read for children, but with slight caution. The description gets heavy at times. There is almost no in-depth characterization, with a large cast of characters that can get confusing. Worst of all, though, is the extreme predictability. The other things are minor aspects, they are obstacles that are easy to get past. It's just slightly disappointing to see that what you thought would happen from the very begin, does end up happening, no twists or anything to make it even the slightest bit more interesting than you thought it would be. This isn't to say that it's not a good read, or a boring one, just that there are minor things that might get irritating.Rating: 3.5/5
nawnie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great fantasy book , with four interesting heroes, a magic island and a stolen prince! This is the perfect book to help get children interested in reading and loving what they read! It will encourage imagination and keep kids coming back for more!
Daisy44 More than 1 year ago
I would have given this book five stars if "the rescuers" had put two and two together better. Overall, I loved this book! The story was unique for when it was published in 1994. Her story revolved around the portal between our world and Avalon. Avalon, perhaps you have heard of it in relation to King Arthur. The portal opens for 9 days every 9 years and beings can come and go as they please. Sometimes humans go to Avalon and never miss home, other times they visit. In this case, the prince's nannies craved some fish and chips from their old home. While two of the girls went in search, the third remained at the station with their charge. Time away from London weakened their constitution in such a way that the third was rendered unconscious by auto fumes and in a blink the prince was stolen. Unfortunately, it was minutes before the portal closed and the nannies had to report back. Then Avalon had to wait 9 years to try a recovery. The King and Queen chose a fabulous group to find, rescue, and retrieve their son. Wise, kind, good, strong, and unusual. Their decisions were well thought out and accomplished. Personally, I was not so sure about the wise part as the group did not always follow their instincts. Had they met Ben's grandmother their job would have been accomplished sooner. Of course, then we would not have the fun adventure Eva gave us. My slight issue stems from my love of Cinderella. Perhaps the inhabitants of Avalon are unfamiliar with that tale. Other than that, the story is well paced with wonderful descriptions and great action. You laugh and shake your head with disbelief and frustration and "awww" with the mistmaker (loved that little creature). As a reader the author helps you create beautiful scenes in your mind's eye quite clearly even without the few illustrations scattered through the book (although I really loved the mistmaker illustration - that is a must!) I also loved the idea that there are magical creatures all around us that we just do not recognize or acknowledge. I'm not sure how long it took Ms. Ibbotson to write out The Secret of Platform 13, but it was published in 1994. Writers know it can take a long time to get a book written and published. I believe this was her sixth, so maybe some of the process was reduced. Why do I bring this up? Because many reviewers have mentioned similarities to a different magical series whose first book was published 3 years later in 1997. If you are a fan of that series, you will be hard pressed not to make comparisons. Just know that the two were written at different times and we are adding our experience to the text. If you read one and not the other you would not draw the comparisons. This was a fun read! I'm glad I picked it up. It was a wonderful adventure even though i wanted to bang heads together now and then and say, "Don't you see!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Banz-Banz More than 1 year ago
What I thought of the book The Secret Of platform 13 was that it was a great fun reading novel and i fully recomend it to everyone!This book I waouls day covers the ages from ten to maybe fourteen. In this book, there is very creative styles and the plot, in the writing. I found this book the most creative book I have read in a long time, also the most interesting. I could tell that the author, Eva Ibbotaon carefully chose words and phrasese to go in a specific part of the novel. This book I thought was great for reading in school with your class or outside of school by yourself even with a small book club. I thought that once I started reading the book, it jkept hooking me into it, and I could nbot put it down. This book has one of the most unexpected endings that I have ever read or seen on tv, or in amovie. It is so surprising! Also at times this book can be very confusing, the author just gives way too much information at one tomne and it makes it diifulct to understand. The book does get better as it moves along. Normally I do not reading fantasy novels, so if you are like me, I bet you would like this book. If you really like this book, I reccomend reading the Harry Potter Serires. Overall, this book is an outstanding book, and the best fantasy novel I hav ever read. This book as very realistic, at some points it can be funny, but for the majority of time, this book tries to be serious. This book has mystic creatures that don't exist today, and some human beings. The secret of Platform 13 has many creative and interesting ways to explain or describe them. This book has it's fast and slow times and seomtines thios book will be moving on with too much information, and at other times, it continues with little information. I think the author could have done a better job at equaling things out. What I love most about books is all the unexpected things that happened.The thrill, of not knowing what is going to happen next. You just can't predict it, especially if you had to. I feel that this book was superb, and that everybody should read it and that everyone should read it.
jimyjamer123 More than 1 year ago
The Secret of Platform 13 In The Secret of Platform 13, there are four characters that are searching for the son (10 years old) of the king and queen who rule a secret island off the coast of England. On the island there are many different creatures like mist makers, who are little animals who make mist when they hear music which the islanders use to hide the island from planes and boats. There are also ogres, mermaids, and hags. The main character is a hag named Ogga. The only way to get to the island is by a grump (doorway), in the middle of Platform 13 in deserted London train station. It leads to a beach where there are islanders waiting to pick you up. But the grump is only opened for 9 days every nine years. The characters are a wizard, a hag (Ogga), an ogre and a fey. The son was kidnapped by a rich lady, who named the boy Raymond. The rescuers have a job to convince him to come back to the island. When they thought they found him they asked him if he wanted to come to the island, he told them he was Ben, just a servant for Raymond (he was 10 years old also) and that the real Raymond is spoiled, a brat, and fat. After the rescuers and some other people from the island put on a show for Raymond, he tells his mom and she thinks someone has been trying to sell him drugs. So Raymond and she go into hiding. When the rescuers finally found where they are, they set up a plan to steal him back. But when there plan fails the island is forced to send in creatures that are half bird, half women. These creatures are very mean and have the worst smell on the island. While the rescuers are returning, Ogga goes and asks Ben if he wants to come and they start running because the grump would close in a couple hours. The creatures return before Ogga and Ben with a sack, the queen runs up to it to look at her son and Raymond starts yelling and kicking. Ben and Ogga finally come and the king, queen and Ben automatically know that he is their real son. After that Raymond is sent back, Ben lives in the palace with the king and queen. In the end, Ben and Ogga are walking on the beach and Ben invites Ogga to live in the palace, and she agrees. Some of the positives are that the vocabulary is not too difficult. Also that the chapters are good lengths. Next there is a very good plot. Also there are many characters that other authors would not put in there books. Lastly there is a great plot. Some of the negatives are that it could have been a little longer. Also at the beginning it was a little weird. Lastly, that the paragraphs weren't to long. The authors writing style in this book is medium length sentences. Also, she has short but, a lot of paragraphs. There are many people who I would recommend this book to. I would recommend it to 5th and 6th graders. One reason is because even though it didn't have a lot of pages it did have a lot of content. I would also recommend this to both boys and girls because there are no parts that boys would not like and no parts girls wouldn't like. Lastly I would recommend this to kids who like mystery with some fantasy in it. Other books by this author wrote are "Which Witch? ", "Eyetooth", and "The Journey to River Sea"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Eva Ibbotson's The Secret of Platform 13 will lure readers of all ages into an exciting tale of adventure and surprizes and most importantly secrets! A most unlikely group of rescuers are sent out to return the prince that had been kidnapped by another world. But they face a challenge, can they find and bring him back before time runs out?
Guest More than 1 year ago
The secret of Platform 13 is an awesome book that I recomend to every one that is in to fantasy books. It is about a prince that gets kidnapped as a baby and is trapped in a normal world. Can he be rescued? To find out, you have to read the book. This book is 'secretly great!'
Guest More than 1 year ago
A wizard, an ogre,afey and a young hag have come to find a prince of their kingdom,stolen as a baby nine years before.But the prince has become a horrible rich boy called rayond trottle who doesn,t understand magic and is determined not to be rescued.
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i started reading this book, i thought it might be interesting, but other eva ibbotson books are much better. it became only too obvious in the beginning where ben is described that he was the real prince the rescuers were looking for ,especially because of the description that he 'had a sense of belonging' when he met the rescuers and was not affected much by different forms of magic. anyhow, it is okay, but not too good. the way the trottles are left in the end is quite amusing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I, for one thought that this book was going to be WAY better. By the cover it looks like it is full of mystery and irony. After you read the book you figure out that it is the exact opposite! I think that the author could have done a way better job with this book in more than one place in the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book and I think everyone sould read it. I like the use of description, and the character abilities. I like the mist makers and the little girl Odge. I rate this book a outstanding 5 stars
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is a vrey interesting, and exciting book. I like the details used to describe parts that are not real. i give it a 5 star rating. It is very complex.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When my daughter and I saw Ibbotson's books at the bookstore or in the library, we scoffed and remarked that they looked like copies of Harry Potter. It was not until I read a review here, in which the reader referred to their pre-Potter publication, that I realized they were anything but copies. In fact, I'm guessing that Rowling may have been inspired in part by Ibbotson, many of whose characters and circumstances bear similarities to those found in the Harry Potter books. Certainly, there's room in the magical world for both authors' wonderful works, and readers of one are likely to enjoy the other as well. The Secret of Platform 13 is humorous, original, and gentle. My daughter and I, both fans of Rowling, have become surprised and delighted fans of Ibbotson and hope that you will, too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Secret of Platform 13,' written by Eva Ibbotson is different but an awesome book. Platform 13 is an old run-down train station in London. But there is something very suspicious about it. There is door leading to a magical kingdom where humans live happily with creatures like witches and ogres. Then a beastly woman, Mrs. Trottle, kidnaps the islands prince and takes him into London. To find out more read this book!