17 January, 2016

Book Review: The Mysterious Howling

From Goodreads: Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.
But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

Thoughts: One of the things I love about working in a library is coming across children who love reading. They remind me of myself at their age and my daughter now. One young lady came in to the library last week looking for the most recent book in a series called The Incorrigible  Children of Ashton Place. It immediately piqued my interest for my daughter and because I am such a good mum, I had to read it first to make sure it was appropriate. What I found reminded me of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but slightly less absurd. Don't get me wrong, I love the absurdity of ASOUE, but Incorrigible Children is just slightly more reserved. Once again it's a children's book that doesn't condescend to it's audience. Wood uses unfamiliar words and expects the reader to either know or work out what it means. She presents most adults in a not too nice light, with those who are half way decent often the servants and misfits. 
Incorrigibles is a book that insists on it's reader being intelligent. It insists on a reader that is entertained by more than a lot of the pulp fiction available to children today. Wood assumes children are not stupid and are interested in good story lines with unique characters. So much of what I see aimed at children today insults their intelligence and while I do believe any reading is good reading it is nice to know that once they have finished with the mass produced pulp, there are people like Maryrose Wood who are still writing quality children's fiction.