The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling. Maryrose Wood. 2010. February 2010. HarperCollins. 267 pages.
It was not Miss Penelope Lumley's first journey on a train, but it was the first one she had taken alone.
"As you may know, traveling alone is quite a different kettle of fish from traveling with companions. It tends to make people anxious, especially when enroute to a strange place, or a new home, or a job interview, or (as in the case of Miss Lumley) a job interview in a strange place that might very well end up being her new home" (1).Miss Lumley is a young woman (just fifteen) who is about to become a governess to three young children. She discovers soon after she's hired that these three children have been living in the barn. Furthermore, they're naked and nameless! What's going on at Ashton Place?! What kind of mess did she get herself into! Fortunately, Miss Penelope Lumley is an optimist.
These three children--two boys, one girl--are soon given first and last names. Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia. As for a last name, well, they're Incorrigible. (The names being assigned not by Miss Penelope but by Lord Frederick Ashton. And how can a governess argue with her employer about such a thing?!) I should also mention, the three children are, soon after her arrival, given clothes (though they do have to be shown how to wear them) and permission to live in the house, in the nursery.
Where did these children come from? Well, Lord Frederick would just say 'Finders, Keepers' and stumble into his story. His story (and he is sticking to it) is that he found these three children in the woods on a hunting trip. His best guess is that these three 'savage' children were raised by wolves. He took them on as an experiment of sorts. He (much to his discredit) doesn't think of them as human, but rather thinks of them as wild, savage beasts. As for Lady Constance, she's not fond of her husband's pet project. And she wouldn't mind a bit if these three were turned over to an orphanage or sent back into the woods.
Miss Lumley definitely has quite a job before her! But if anyone can do it, Miss Penelope can! She isn't an ordinary governess after all. She's a graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. With steady perseverance, ever-present hope, and a lot of love, she's determined that these kids will succeed. And to her credit, they do seem eager to learn, eager to love.
This one features interior illustrations by Jon Klassen. I found these illustrations complemented the text quite well! I loved some of the captions!
I love, love, loved this book. I really, really loved it. I found it wonderfully quirky and oh-so-charming. The writing was clever and fun. I would definitely recommend this one! You can view the book trailer here.
Here are a few of my favorite passages:
One of Agatha Swanburne's sayings, which Penelope had often heard (you may think of her as Penelope from this point forward, for now you have made her acquaintance), was this: "All books are judged by their covers until they are read." (7)
As you probably know from personal experience, there are children who love to take baths, and there are children who absolutely do not. It took some trial and error, but Penelope soon discovered that Alexander would get in the tub only if the water was quite cool and perfectly still. Cassiopeia preferred hot water but was frightened of the soap. Once in, Beowulf could hardly be pried out of the bath; he would have soaked all day if permitted. (57)
If you have ever opened a can of worms, boxed yourself into a corner, ended up in hot water, or found yourself in a pretty pickle, you already know that life is rarely (if ever) just a bowl of cherries. It is far more likely to be a bowl of problems, worries, and difficulties. This is normal and you should not be alarmed. (119)
As you may have already had cause to discover, a statement can be both completely true and completely misleading at the same time. This is called "selective truth telling," and it is frequently used in political campaigns, toy advertisements, and other forms of propaganda. (166)
This practice of overstating the case is called hyperbole. Hyperbole is usually harmless, but in some cases it has been known to precipitate unnecessary wars as well as a painful gaseous condition called stock market bubbles. For safety's sake, then, hyperbole should be used with restraint and only by those with the proper literary training. (188-189)This book just works really well. I find it very award-worthy!
Other reviews: Shelf Elf, Welcome to My Tweendom, Fuse #8, A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy, Life By Candlelight.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews