Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling

Author: Maryrose Wood  
Illustrator: Jon Klassen

Publication Date: 2010                     
Category: Children's book

Who'll want to read it? Primary school girls & grown up girls who think it might have been fun to attend the well regarded "Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females". Also if you enjoyed Jen Storer's Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children or Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Point of no return: I admired 15 year old Miss Penelope Lumley's pluckiness from the very start and wanted to stay with her on her journey: "... Miss Lumley was far more awake than she wished to be. Had she really said something about bandits? She had seen cats fall clumsily from windowsills and then walk off as if nothing had happened; this, Miss Lumley realized, was her wisest course of action. Best not to mention the bandits, ever again." Pg 3.

Classic Line: ' "If I can provide them with a fraction of the steady care that Swanburne and Miss Mortimer have given me, then all will be well," she thought, before blurting: "Dear me, Cassiopeia, mind your dress! I realize it may be faster to go on all fours, but I think you will find your stockings will last longer at the knee if you walk upright. Here, allow me to demonstrate." ' Pg 65.

What's it all about? The very proper and determined Miss Penelope Lumley arrives at Ashton Place for her first job as a governess. An air of mystery surrounds both Miss Lumley's past as well as the origin of her three charges. Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia appear to have been raised by wolves and delight in nipping, barking, howling and chasing squirrels. It is the job of Miss Lumley (or Lumawoo as the children take to calling her) to convert the children into socially acceptable people. The children are of course adorable and I found myself wanting to reach into the book to give "Cassawoof" a big hug. There is lots of lovely irony concerning the display of "civilised" behaviour within the walls of Ashton Place, especially at the Christmas Day party. I have found myself craving cinnamon scented Plum Cakes since I read this book, so I'm off now to find a suitable recipe.

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (An imprint of HarperCollins)

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