Book Jacket


rank 1025
word count 53355
date submitted 20.05.2012
date updated 22.07.2014
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Children's, Trave...
classification: universal

The Garden Shed

Philip John

So you think that the house you live in is yours, do you? Well, think again.


The family had no idea what they were letting
themselves in for, when they moved to their new house.
But the two children soon found out. The moment they
began exploring the old shed at the bottom of the garden
and met the occupant, who introduced them to a different
world and took them off on some amazing adventures.
(Previously uploaded as 'Underworld')

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australia, cats, china, educational, france, mount everest, travel

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AlexOBT wrote 63 days ago

This is an original but very vivid world which you've created, with a storyline that complements it well. The lucid writing style makes it effortless to read; no purple prose, you let the world you're describing speak for itself! I was worried that the ending would be a let-down, but I found it surprisingly tense, and fitting to the gentle pace of the story as a whole.
If you're looking back through it at some point, I'd suggest investing more words in characterisation, especially of the two heroes. You've got characters and a relationship that feel too reliant on an archetypal brother-sister duo to me - it would be nice to hear the ways in which they differ from this archetype, which could help them become more distinctive and memorable.
Happy to share more feedback if you're looking for it - I certainly am, if you have a moment!

Alex OBT
The Identity Thief

Rachel H Campling wrote 94 days ago

Hello Phillip,
I can imagine that lots of children would love the idea of buying a house complete with a cat...I know mine would! I like the hook at the end of the first chapter - we already suspect that this cat will live forever. Without intending to read much (as I'm supposed to be doing some planning...) I was hooked and had read several chapters. You cleverly build the suspense. I really want to know more about the cat and the shed. Alas, teaching tomorrow so must do the planning. On my WL...will return. Thank you.
All the best,

Eliza Moon wrote 97 days ago

The Garden Shed.

I very much like the idea of ownership of a cat being a clause in the purchasing of a house. And not any old cat, an enormous cat, and not a very friendly one at that. The contract says 'No cat. No house.' The old ladies cat wouldn't be very happy if they got a dog.

I like the short and choppy sentences which somehow say so much, 'Father winced and the family saw something was wrong.' also, 'And the children were upset now.'

The end of the chapter is a very leading question, Cats do not live forever. But it is clear this cat is not an average cat.

The description of the house was lovely, inside and out, and I could picture it clearly, 'hung with bright red tiles and with pretty, colourful leaded light windows.' There were a couple of lines which conflicted with each other, perhaps one of them could be removed, 'Plenty of character, which was just what they wanted.' and, 'We shall demolish the house before too long and build the house we really want.' I do hope they want to keep the house for its charm and character, but I see that potentially, the demolition of such an unusual house could be an important aspect of the story. It might upset cats. And dead old ladies. And the helpful spirits who make the beds.

Watchlisted, high stars. I would be pleased if you would like to take a look at my work in return. x

Belinda Walker wrote 103 days ago

This is an utterly charming book. It has been on my WL for a while I confess I forgot about it. I am glad I read it as I feel the appeal goes beyond just children. The cat/monster conflict at the beginning brings some tension in and holds the attention. I love the way the story unfolds and the way the children's charactes develop. Good stuff and well done to Philip

Stellula wrote 104 days ago


I am Naan, I just added your book The Garden Shed to my watchlist, hoping to read it in the coming days and was wondering if you could return the favour by reading mine (Streetwise and Otherwise).


carol jefferies wrote 104 days ago

Hi Philip,

The Garden Shed

This is a return read for backing my book.

Both pitches are great.

This children's story introduces conflict straight away with the new buyers of a house unable to buy it unless they take on the previous occupant's cat. This is essential for any narrative as it makes the story interesting. I am sure having the previous occupant exert pressure upon them, even though she is dead, will appeal to the children's sense of injustice, especially as they were hoping to get a dog.

I liked some of your turn of phrases to emphasis a repetitive style of writing, which children enjoy, such as, 'There was a father, who worked in an office somewhere and seemed to enjoy working in an office somewhere.' It seems to sum up a child's vagueness about a parent's occupation.

The house is well depicted and it sounds distinctive. The elusive cat comes across as menacing. Intrigue is introduced when Caroline discovers that her bed as been made. The shed which the family cannot gain access to, becomes more mysterious adding to the tension.

This promises to be a delightful and intriguing story for children.

High stars and I wish you good luck with it.

Carol Jefferies
The Witch of Fleet Street
Chase of a Ewe-lamb

Jeanette Taylor Ford wrote 122 days ago

Well Phillip, this has sat on my watchlist for quite a while waiting for me to get to it. Now I have got to it I can't imagine why I've waited so long. This is a great book for children (and adults who enjoy childish things, like me!) and it is an easy read that makes you want to go on to another chapter and on again. I agree with another comment in that it is a touch old fashioned in places, children don't call their parents mother and father much and really it isn't necessary to repeat some things, although it depends what age group you are aiming at. Having worked in education with children for quite some time, I know that some children have more understanding than you would think but of course you then get the ones that don't understand so well. But that is where careful book choice comes in; we can't cater for both in our books, we have to decided about the readership we are aiming for.

I have read to the end of chapter 7 and will return to read more.

Jeanette Taylor Ford, 'The Sixpenny Tiger' and 'Rosa'

Zoe Morgan wrote 122 days ago

Hi, Philip :-)

Such an easy read! Wonderfully imagined and there was nothing I stopped that trips the flow of the narrative.
Your sentences and paragraphs are short and suit the child reader. I didn't find any colloquial which may confuse younger readers.

Your language reads with the formality of a bed time story..."Mother said..."Father said"...and this is a delight and you use comedy to great affect.

I've loaded this up with stars and wish you all the very best.

Zoe x

Pavese wrote 133 days ago

I really enjoyed the first eight chapters and think you definitely have something worth developing.
I'm certainly not going to nitpick when it comes to typos, punctuation, etc. That all seems to be in order!
The only comments I have would be one that echoes an earlier suggestion (using father and mother makes this sound quite old fashioned) and one that has to do with taste - you could tighten the storyline in places and 'cut to the chase' (I have problems editing my book down and The Garden Shed feels to me like a book that needs an editor).
That said this is a funny, interesting, well written and engaging piece of writing.
I certainly wish you and the book every success.

Campion's Change

tracy t wrote 134 days ago

Hi Philip
Great story, easy to read fast flowing and interesting - what more can I say?

Jennifer McArdle wrote 147 days ago

Good story. Intriguing, right from the start. I like the straightforward style of storytelling and the short chapters, which is great for young readers. I'm adding this one to my watchlist.

Jennifer McArdle
“Back By Dawn”

norvs13 wrote 155 days ago

I just quickly flicked onto this to have a peek and next thing i knew i'd read 4 chapters. The writing style is fluent, and makes this effortless to read. The punctuation and grammar is polished and has clearly been edited with care. I am intrigued by the shed and the cat so i think i will probably come back for more. The hook at the end of chapter 4 is quite strong.
Best of luck with this.
High stars.

Banana Brains

mapleyther wrote 156 days ago

You write with a wonderful simplicity and economy of words, and as a result the chapters just fly by. This is very accessible stuff, and ideal for those children who find it a struggle to read. As has already been pointed out by another commenter, there is a vintage feel to the writing in some respects and no sinking to the lowest common denominator as is so common in so much modern writing. Quality of punctuation and grammar is also good, this looks to be quite polished.

I don't think the length of the book is a real problem. 60,000 words is quite reasonable. Good luck with this!

M.P. Jones
Mason Wilson & The Dead Bird Debacle

RonParker wrote 157 days ago

Hi Philip,

This is a great kids story and I just had to go on reading more than I really had the time for.

Almost sixty chapters ,however, does seem a bit long for a children's book albeit some of the chapters are rather short.

Despite this, I'm surprised the book hasn't already been published.

I don't know what time perios this is set in, but occasionally, it does come across as a little old fashioned, such as the children using the formal titles of father and mother for their parents. grammatically correct, of course, but unlikely to be used by children of your character's ages in modern times.

In the chapters I read - I had to stop eventually - but this was because of time constraints and not your writing - I didn't spot any writing errors, not even a typo.

Good luck with this.


4everunwritten wrote 193 days ago

I've read the first five chapters so far and I have to say I like the rather "bouncy" quality to the writing and diction. It reads very story like and it reflects a lot on the children in the story. I think it's wonderful the way you write for this story and the tone helps to add. I'll be back again soon!

As Darkness Falls

Squirrely wrote 212 days ago

This is funny! So far I've read 20 + chapters. This would be a good book for amusing illustrations. I don't have much criticism except that the part with the subways can be confusing, with a lot of getting on one train and going to another. In any case I will back this because it is fun for me to read.

Michael Rains
"Wendell and the Dragon's Heart"
"The House on the Corner"

luckyfish09 wrote 215 days ago

I like the way the book starts. BAM! right into the confrontation about the cat. I'm not sure how I feel about the punctuation. Its makes the dialogue feel a little choppy? That's just me though. The story is intriguing and you already have my attention concerning the mysterious cat and why it is so important.

Luckyfish09, Red Wolfe

The Imagineer wrote 245 days ago

Review Chapters 1-22

Each chapter is short and easy to digest, which left wanting to read on. You've managed to create a world using any extensive description, and characters with uninspired pasts. I realize this is a children's book, and as I read, it appears that it would be very good at that. I just hope, when I return, I will find out why the cat, the mystery of the "dead" house owner, and why it sold the house. (Although, I could probably give a few good guesses.)

Author of, "The Midnight Hotel" & "Thanalosian"

Sam Barclay wrote 269 days ago


I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your first chapter. It is quitte remarkable how you have this ability to use quite simple diction, and lots of repetition, to reinforce what it essenstially a simple situation (No cat, no house) and yet, it is masterful in its own way. I find myself genuinely excited about wanting to know about this monster of a cat, and how the family will get on. We don't really know much about this family. I guess they are meant to be an average family about to have their lives tourned upside down by this cat. Fantastic!

The start is funny. Maybe I'd mention in the first section briefly one or two reasons why the man is desperate for the house...does he love the stonework/unusually large, secluded back garden/ it is the only one in the area with x number of his wife in love with it?There needs to be a good reason for him not to just tell the lawyer...'To hell with you, I'll buy the other one for sale down the road.'

I loved the ending. The family, quite reasonably, assume the cat will not be alive for that much longer. I am hoping it lives forever or whatever...certainly, the family's lives will be ruined. My only uncertainly at the moment is...will you go for horror or comedy or both?

I am really looking forward to returning to this.

If you ever get time to take a quick look at the first chapter of 'Dax' I'd be extremely grateful to you.

Cheers for now, Sam

5 stars and WLed

sensual elle wrote 271 days ago

This is lovely, fun for children, youth, and certainly adults if I'm allowed to count myself. I love the dialogue and improbable circumstances. Backed.

Based on the cat and terms of the sale, I'd be tempted to name the first section 'Entailed'. It's a joke, see. Okay, never mind. Nobody laughs at my jokes. Did I say I backed it?

e.k.d. judd wrote 271 days ago

I like this a lot already. You have a flare for using simple words and phrases that seem totally normal and innocuous, but when taken together indicate some fantastic strangeness in the very near future. I'll keep reading.
-- e.k.d. judd (Unrelated Tales)

EmilyPooler wrote 294 days ago

This sounds like loads of fun, and I'll put it on my watchlist.
As someone who's changed my title more than I was initially happy about or care to admit, I know this isn't the most exciting opinion to read, but I'll give it all the same: I think this might do with a title that doesn't match an existing fictional series which was turned into a series of films.

Geowonderland wrote 334 days ago

You pull the reader into the story right away.
You made me laugh with the wife asking how old the cat was. She was fast on finding the solution, “It can’t live forever.”
Cute description of the kids, James and Caroline.
From chapter 2, you slow down with pace by being more descriptive. However, you continue pulling the reader in even with the slower pace.
Interesting story and well written.
Good luck,

KathrynW wrote 346 days ago

This is a great start to a children's story. Chapter 1 immediately introduces the main thrust of the tale - the mysterious cat who belongs to the house. Your style is succinct and rather quaint - particularly the use of mother and father for mum and dad. You don't fall into the trap of too much description and background information at the start, but catch up with that in chapter 2 once the reader has been hooked. You drip into the mundane details of moving house a sense of mystery as the family forgets about the elusive cat but wonders who has made the beds. Bringing in the locked shed also arouses the reader's curiosity.

I'm not sure what age range you are writing for, but your easy to read style is appropriate for children who want to read for themselves, or for younger children to be read to. You keep your sentences and paragraphs fairly short which is age appropriate and injects some pace into the story.

All in all, this is a well written, error free draft with a brilliant concept. I am awarding you high stars and putting you on my watch list.

Best wishes

Waters of Graee

Amanda Robertson wrote 372 days ago

Hi Philip

I read bits of your book some time back when I backed it, but I've realised that I didn't leave you a comment. I love the first chapter, which has the air of something scary about to unravel. I like your writing style too, not cluttered. On dipping into the book later on, I think the talking cat and its cat like arrogance and self assurance is written well. I think they go on a round the world, interstaellar adventure with the cat? I would have loved this as a kid! Good luck - I'll be watching how you do. High stars :)
Amanda Robertson
'Stone Cold' - (was 'Impossible Cutnery Heath' but it is undergoing major editing at the moment!)

jacqklin wrote 379 days ago

I liked it first page. I love light-hearted mysterious child-like stories that take you into innocent yet dangerous places especially the title...that place in another dimension where the animals are the Underworld the lower world.I tend to always put this place in all my stories......I will continue reading....

Magicweaver wrote 415 days ago

Entertaining read with an original take on some familiar themes. You describe well and convince with the dialogue. Well done, I enjoyed reading this.

philthomas wrote 431 days ago

Hi Philip I have just read up to chapter four I normally wouldn't comment so early into a book but I would just like say that I disagree with Stan Mills it is a childrens book and the spacing is spot on mate. I will comment more as I read on.

Stan Mills wrote 524 days ago

Hi Philip, I have glanced at all of your novels and the glaring thing that jumps out at me is your formatting is sloppy. You have far too much white space between your paragraphs.
I can sort that out for you right now!
First thing is load chapter one of any of your novels into microsoft word.
2... On the task bar make sure you click home.
3...Highlight the entire text in your chapter.
4...Now look to the top of the screen on the far right on the task bar. You will see a change styles button. Click this.
5...Select paragraph spacing. Then select no paragraph spacing. Click this.
Immediately your text will tighten up and will become much easier to read.
Now you can update.
Best wishes
Stan Mills

Cathy Hardy wrote 588 days ago

Delightful dialogue and a lovely pace. Easy to read. Top stars!!

Su Dan wrote 594 days ago

great dialogue moves your story with great effect...
read SEASONS...

melohd wrote 602 days ago

Hi, I read ch's 1,2 9, 10 and 14 and I must say I really like this book and I know my children would like it too. What ages is it for though? I'm confused- You use such simple language, but it is so very long. Young children just don't have this kind of attention span, I think it would take days to get through it, but most young children want to conclude a book quickly, although it is a very intriguing book. And they need lots of pictures, which would make it even longer. And older children should be challenged with words they must figure out and don't know yet. So, I can't quite place this book. I love the adventure of it though and the way the conversation/banter flows. I love the way the cat interacts with them, the promise of adventure and their growing confusion around their parents in Ch 14. Very well done!

Cathy Hardy wrote 615 days ago

Thank you for backing my book, most kind!

Alice Barron wrote 624 days ago

Hi Philip,

I have read six of your lovely chapters and I will continue to read more. I wondered who made the beds for the children at the start. Now, I think I know. Well, if a cat can make a cup of tea then I'm sure he can make the beds too. Each chapter tempts the reader on to the next chapter.
This is very well done. If I am buying a house any time soon I sincerely hope I will not be told, "No cat, no house".
Highly starred.

"The bed next to mine"

John Lovell wrote 638 days ago

Chapters 2 and 3 both read now.

This has a great feel to it. Simple sentences for the audience you're aiming for. It's quite charming too. Long forgot those days as a kid when I'd try and turn everything into a den and I'm guessing that they'll meet the cat soon? The shed does have a real disused feel to it which is really cool. Really liking the flow of the story so far too.


John Lovell wrote 638 days ago

Phillip. I read the first chapter and I'm just sat giggling to myself. I'll read a few more chapters (I know mine are fairly large in comparison so I only see it to be fair)

Very witty so far. I'll leave chapter by chapter reviews, quite interested to see what happens with this cat.


Happykid56 wrote 639 days ago

I kind of felt like it lost some of its realismn in the dialouge. I dont feel adult couples talk the way you have them talking. I also felt some of the story was being told instead of shown. I did the like the story though (I only read the first chapter so far). The cat banter back and forth was funny and genious. I really enjoyed reading this and give you luck in getting it published.

spadge wrote 652 days ago

CHIRG Review
Hi Philip, thanks for allowing me to review your story. I enjoyed it immensely. I also write in an old fashioned way which according to my research, people still enjoy.
I felt at first that there is probably too much 'show' nand not enough 'tell'. Usually people are always harping on about 'show' and 'tell' but I think if a story reads well and hooks you in it doesn't matter at all. I like your style, a little slow in the first few chapters perhaps but overall good marks. Thanks for the read and good luck.

Steve 'Merlin's Cave'

AFMckeating wrote 662 days ago

Hi Philip. Just read your first six chapters. Your story has a slightly old-fashioned feel to it and the pacing might be little slow for some modern tastes, but I have to say I loved it. At first, I asn't sure about your use of "mother" and "father" (as opposed to, say, "mum" and "dad"), but it seems to fit. I also liked the dry humour in your narrative, especially when talking about the things that the grown ups are doing and the way you manage to create a feeling of distance between their world and James' and Caroline's. And I liked the opening conversation with the estate agent. I'll read more when I can and am going to back this.

AF McKeating
The Accidental Career of Hilary Darke

klouholmes wrote 725 days ago

CHIRG review

Hi Philip John, You have a style that really works here and it leads up continually. The storytelling style feels sophisticated actually but I think it works very well for kids. I had to read on through Chapter 5 and I want to read more. The premise pulled me right in. What enhanced the story was the relationship between Caroline and James. And the cat mystery pervades even when your characters are thinking about something else. I had to admire the dialogue, the way it pushes the story on and how it feels so real. That contrasts with the possibility of fantasy. I feel that every chapter is going to give more on these characters besides revealing more about the contract with the house. Anyway, this could be a winner. Shelved and high stars - Katherine

philip john wrote 745 days ago

You could be right about this being slow but I am not sure, with respect, that your comments about grammar and the use of commas are correct. This might also be a case of physician, heal thyself. Your first sentence should begin with a capital letter, as should your second. The words 'pitch' and 'commas' should be separated by a full stop, not a comma and the word 'commas' should start with a capital, not a small letter. 'Shouldn't' should read 'should not'. The abbreviated form should only be used with the spoken word, not the written. Perhaps you are using twitter language. This is not something with which I am too familar.

Yours (not too seriously) Philip John

i agree that this is whimsical but slow. there are grammar errors in the long pitch, commas that shouldn't be there....
what every woman should know

scargirl wrote 745 days ago

i agree that this is whimsical but slow. there are grammar errors in the long pitch, commas that shouldn't be there....
what every woman should know

Helianthus wrote 762 days ago

Alright, so I read this whole thing. I don't know much about children's books, so I can't comment very well. Forgive me that.

From the title and the pitch, I was expecting something with ghosts in it - not schoolteachery cats. (For the record, I love cats - and I have always, always been nice to them.)

This seems to be a pretty slow build for a children's book. What age are you aiming for? I think you miss a lot of chances to really teach something. All this refusal to answer questions and downplaying the little information that is given out seems like time that could maybe be used to enlighten your young reader with real answers. You have a perfect venue. I'd take out some of the sedate and somewhat repetitive misleading-the-parents parts and work in some more activity with the real world.

I liked the ending. Good cat.

JMF wrote 773 days ago

A return read for Shadow Jumper. Thanks for that! I have read the first three chapters of your book. I particularly enjoyed your opening chapter and I thought it worked well. The whole idea of a cat being sold with the house is a great one and I really like the tone of your writing, humorous without being flashy. I thought it had an old-fashioned feel to it, emphasised by calling the dad, 'Father' - that's quite formal and the husband and wife have quite traditional roles in the family. I wonder when this is supposed to be set. It would make sense if it were the 1950's say. I also wonder the age range you are aiming at - I'm not sure I've read enough to particularly comment on this, but from what I've bee told, it is essential to have a target readership in mind and not think that it would suit all ages. I struggle with this age issue myself!
I really liked the ending of the first chapter as well as one knows that this cat is going to last quite some time!
It's well-written, funny and has a unique tone. Well done.
Highly starred and on my WL
All the best
Shadow Jumper

Cariad wrote 776 days ago

Your pitch confused me a little. The last two sentences didn’t flow, maybe the punctuation. May just be me.

However, cracking start, straight in. ‘No cat. No house.’ (though again, I’d have preferred a comma or a semi-colon between them.) Really liked that dialogue at the beginning, very funny and set the scene really well.

The next bit where he tells the family – would the boy really say ‘that’s terrific father?’ father seems a very old fashioned and formal thing to say. Also, I wonder if you couldn’t lose that first bit where you tell us the father is telling the family, and go straight in with: ‘Can we buy a puppy now….’ Just a thought.

Really liked the end of chapter one ‘Cat’s don’t live forever, do they?’ I have a feeling this one just might. I really like the way you write. Chapter two where you introduce the family ‘worked in an office somewhere……. And seemed to enjoy working in an office somewhere…’ and the mother ‘who did not work in an office anywhere…’ it reminds me of someone I used to love reading when I was young – can’t remember who! – but it’s great. I see that you referring to them as the mother and father kinda fits with the boy calling him ‘father’ now (I’m typing as I read.)

Okay, I can’t comment on all of it! I’ve read a few chapters now and can’t find anything to beat you up over or correct – it’s just a tremendously enjoyable read which I shall star well and reserve a shelf space for (bit of a wait list)

I think this should do well. Great read.

Spilota wrote 786 days ago

As an adult reader, I like this. It's got a nice tone, albeit a little 'old fashioned' compared with some modern writing for children. Looking forward to reading more.

Tod Schneider wrote 789 days ago

I like the whimsical flavor of your writing, and I enjoy the cat.
Stronger hooks at the chapter ends to keep us engaged might be worth working on.
Overall I think it's very promising and lots of fun.
Best of luck with this!
-- Tod

Brigitte_2 wrote 792 days ago

I have read the first chapter through the eyes of children and found it a bit too drawn out. The short, 'crisp' sentences suited the medium well although I would prefer a faster pace. I am sorry to say that my eyes glazed over half way through the chapter craving some action. Deleting the repeats of the move, arranging furniture
I am looking at your thriller now. It kept me interested longer. Comments coming soon.

jwillis2003 wrote 795 days ago

It's got a good starting chapter, with great dialogue. I'll probably read more later, but it's backed!