Monday, 30 December 2013

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

“It was not Miss Penelope Lumley’s first journey on a train, but it was the first one she had taken alone.”

Miss Penelope has come from Agatha Swanburne’s Academy for Poor Bright Females. She is a grade ahead of all the other pupils there, so she is chosen to go on and become a governess. Governess for three incorrigible children: Beowolf, Alexander and Cassiopeia. Ashton Place is a big hall, home to Frederick Ashton, his frivolous new wife Lady Constance and the children. The incorrigible children were found living with wolves in the forest. Frederick Ashton wants to keep them, because he thinks it is “Finders keepers”. But Lady Constance doesn’t want to keep them because she thinks they are so bad. Penelope manages to make them wear clothes and brings them up in a bit less woolfish ways.

The writing is somewhat peculiar but very, very funny in places. There is an exciting plot but sometimes the writer enjoys ranting on about stuff like poems. This is good and bad, but mostly good because it makes it feel as if the writer is having fun.

I would like to ask Maryrose Wood if she felt a little bit naughty about spreading the story over several books instead of each book having a proper ending? It does make you want to read the next one!

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place books are written by Maryrose Wood, and are published by Balzer and Bray: The Mysterious Howling, The Hidden Gallery and The Unseen Guest. I am waiting to read The Interrupted Tale. These books are for anyone aged 6 upwards who likes squirrels, poetry and wise sayings.


Maryrose Wood replies:

Maryrose Wood (or should that be Maryrose Woooooo) replies: 
Please tell Nona that yes, I did feel a bit naughty writing the books, and also had quite a lot of fun! 

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Dark Lord. The Teenage Years.

“AAAaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhh” is the first sentence of this book, so let’s go on to the second.

“ His fall seemed to go on forever. It felt like bits of him were being stripped away, as if he was changing into something else as he fell.”

The Dark Lord had fallen onto a parking space. Around him he saw strange metal boxes which to you and me would be cars. Then two strange men (police) came up to him and asked if he was alright. They also asked his name. He replied, “Dark Lord”. One of the men told the other to write down “Dirk Lloyd”. The Dark Lord insisted he was “Dark Lord”. At that point he was taken to hospital.

As it says on the cover, this book is Wonderfully Absurd. The Dark Lord has been turned into a little boy, far from the Dark Lands. He mistakes a goth for a vampire, he calls a sports captain a “sports lord”, and his months as he writes his diary have names like “Despair”.

I would like to ask Jamie Thomson why he’s crossed his name out on the cover and put Dirk Lloyd. Are we supposed to think Dirk Lloyd wrote the third person parts of the book as well as the diary entries?

The Dark Lord, The Teenage Years by Jamie Thomson (2011) is published by Orchard Books. Very funny. Anyone can read it but not the really girly girls. 


The Rooftoppers.

“On the morning of its first birthday, a baby was found floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel.”

That baby didn’t have a name so Charles named it Sophie. It had a first badge on, so they thought it was one year old because babies don’t often win prizes in competitions. Charles brought Sophie up but the authorities didn’t like her wearing trousers. They were going to take Sophie away but they escaped to Paris following the address from the cello case.

They meet a nice cello shop owner who remembers Sophie’s mother playing funeral marches double-time! He can’t remember her name so he calls in the shop assistant who thinks that women shouldn’t play instruments. He says her name was Vivienne, but he really didn’t like her playing.

Sophie and Charles stay in a hotel where Sophie opens up the window in the ceiling because she doesn’t like the room. She climbs out and shortly afterwards has a visitor who warns her, “Don’t go on the rooftops, they’re ours”. And so that’s how her adventures with the Rooftoppers begin.

The book is beautifully written, for people who love listening to the author’s voice through the story. One thing I would like to ask Katherine Rundell is why don’t you have an epilogue filling us in on what happens to all the characters we have met? Is there a Book Two planned maybe?

The Rooftoppers (2013) by Katherine Rundell is published by faber and faber. A lovely book aged for 8 upwards. Beautifully written and definitely worth reading. As far as I'm concerned, the perfect book.

 Katherine Rundell () replies:

I am thrilled you liked it! Thank you for your lovely review. In answer to your question: I know exactly what happens next... and will definitely one day write it down, though for now I am working on a different book: this one is about wolves.


Alongside The Executioner's Daughter, Rooftoppers is still possibly the best book of all. Click on Older Posts to read about it.