Miss Penelope Lumley is a governess at the home of the honorable Lord Ashton, watching over three very peculiar but remarkable children. Beowulf, Cassiopeia, and Alexander were found in the woods attached to the Ashton Estate, and were rumored to have been, until the day that they were discovered, raised by wolves. Despite their distinctive canine behavior and habits, they are excellent pupils and quite gifted in many ways.
The children are not the only peculiar things living at Ashton Place, Lord Ashton comes from a line of Lords who have a strange genetic illness which causes them to make strange howling noises whenever there is a full moon…And the matriarch of the family has decided to visit Ashton Place with her new beau, an ex-Admiral who dreams of starting an Ostrich-racing business with the widow Ashton’s money.
Penelope suspects that the Admiral is bad news for the Ashtons, and devises a very unorthodox and supernatural solution…
Can Penelope prove to the Ashtons that the Admiral is not who he seems to be? Can she discover the real secret behind Lord Ashton’s full moon illness? And what about the strange origins of the incorrigible children?
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: the Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood, is an amusing middle grade novel which is the first in a series of books. The writing is light and amusing, and this could be a good novel to read aloud to an elementary aged child. If you would like a darker twist on the Mary Poppins-like stories, then give this series a try.
Encouraging a 10-14 year old boy to read is no easy endeavor. Luckily there are a few classic authors who will make your middle-school boy keep turning those pages. Lemony Snicket, Brian Selznick, and Trenton Lee Stewart are fiction authors who have what it takes to fire up your adolescent’s imagination.
Many of you may have already seen the movie or heard of “The Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket, but if you haven’t read the series, you may like to know that it has won several awards, including the Colorado Children’s Book Award. The stories are a little morbid and dark, but have been compared to the writing of Roald Dahl in that the settings are just unrealistic enough to appear as fantasy, without actually being blatant “wizards and unicorns” type of fantasy. The series has 13 books, the first of which is called “The Bad Beginning”. If you have ever thought about picking up these books, you will be likely to enjoy them.
Another book not-to-miss: Brian Selznick wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a novel about an orphan whose toy-maker father is mysteriously killed in a fire, leaving him to be raised by his awful clock-keeper uncle. When Hugo’s uncle doesn’t come home one day, Hugo ends up bringing home a robot-like machine called an automaton and trying to fix it based on the notes in his father’s notebook. He finds himself getting tangled up with the god-daughter of a shopkeeper over the rights to the notebook, and later to a key that fits into a hole to open up worlds for more than one of the books’ characters. “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” has also been made into a movie, the title was shortened to “Hugo“. This novel is full of adventure and heart.
Trenton Lee Stewart penned “The Mysterious Benedict Society” series, which is about a secret society made up of an eccentric narcoleptic genius, his few helpers, and the four children who answer his ad in the newspaper requesting gifted helpers for special opportunities. They quickly take on a secret mission to enter a school in which nothing is as it seems, and they have been recruited to solve the mysteries of The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened before the evil headmaster finds a way to take over the world using the minds of his students. This series is smart and creative, and emphasizes teamwork in a way that much of today’s children’s literature seems to be lacking.
If you like one of these authors, chances are good that you will like the others, so be sure to give them a try. They are all coming available on audiobook, too, and are really great for road trips with your kids.