This book is possibly the most quotable book I've read in a very long time. I still have mixed feelings about its actual kid appeal, but I know it is a book my mom would quite enjoy.
The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Miss Penelope Lumley has just graduated from Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Girls. Her first position as a governess turns out to be quite the strange one. She's brought to Ashton Place and told to watch over and train the three children that the lord of the manor, Lord Fredrick, found in the woods. Lord Fredrick gives them ridiculous names and no one really expects Miss Penelope to be able to teach them anything. Of course, Miss Penelope Lumley is armed with wit, common sense, a love of learning and teaching, and the many sensible sayings of Agatha Swanburne, founder of the Swanburne school. The three children, Beowulf, Cassiopeia, and Alexander have some strange hard to break tendencies such as chasing squirrels and howling. This is probably due to their unusual upbringing by wolves. But in the end, the children prove their humanity and do abundant credit to Miss Penelope Lumley's governessing skills.
The book is written very much in the time period and vein of "The Secret Garden" or "The Little Princess" but is much more tongue-in-cheek and witty than either of those classic reads. It is very obviously also the first of a series, as the Mysterious Howling is never actually explained and really only comes in towards the end of the book anyway. This book didn't get the full amount of stars mainly for some plotting issues, but it isn't a book that is really so much about plot. It is episodic in nature, and each episode shows a little more about the characters and their relationships and loyalties to each other. The book is also, perhaps, just perhaps, a little to cheeky and impressed with itself. By which I mean, adults, especially those that loved the aforementioned Victorian girl stories will love this book and be in on the joke(s). But will it appeal so mightily to its intended audience? Though quite likely it could be one of those books you loved as a kid for one reason, and then, upon rereading as an adult, find entirely new reasons to love.
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