Friday, September 20, 2013
The Mysterious Howling
New York : Balzer & Bray, 2010.
At age 15, Miss Penelope Lumley, recently graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is on her way to her first position as a governess. When she arrives at Ashton Place, she is shocked to learn that her young charges have been raised by wolves!
It's hard to describe this story without making it sound silly. It is silly, but it's also cleverly poking fun at tropes in children's literature and it's an entertaining story whether you catch the references or not. Because of this, it works well as a story for both children and adults to read - if it's your first story about wild children and governesses, great, and if it's not, you'll chuckle along with the narrator even more knowledgeably. It's smart without feeling didactic; I was amused by the explanations of irony, for example, and the use of poetry was fun without feeling forced. I'd be hard-pressed to tell you if I preferred the audio or the book, since the former is superbly read by Katherine Kellgren, while the latter includes illustrations from Caldecott Award-winning illustrator Jon Klassen.