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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book 1: The Mysterious Howling

by Maryrose Wood

Published by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2010
272 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-179105-5

Ages 9 - 12

A graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, plucky, tenderhearted Penelope Lumley has just accepted her first teaching position as a tutor at Ashton Place. Penelope’s already planning lessons in Latin when she meets her three charges, who turn out to be wild—literally. Raised (presumably) by wolves, the three siblings yip, yap, woof, growl, and howl. But despite their lack of social graces, the children are exceptionally bright. By the full moon at Christmas they’re ready to make their social debut (despite the occasional yip and woof) at Lady Ashton’s ball. Author Maryrose Wood manages to simultaneously poke fun at and revere elements of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century genre novels for children in this slyly funny yet warmhearted orphan story edged with mystery. Clues to veiled truths about the children, Lord Ashton, and even Penelope herself unfold as Wood spins her clever and compelling tale. Reading aloud proves to be the most enjoyable and influential thing Penelope does as an educator and as a loving caretaker, whether sharing a poem by Longfellow or the fulsomely sweet Silky Mischief (Penelope’s favorite of the “Giddy-Yap, Rainbow” series) in a novel that also illuminates the power of story.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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