Balzer + Bray, 2010. ISBN 978-0-061-79105-5.
Reviewed by Judy Miller
Posted on 04/16/2010
The Mysterious Howling, the first in a planned series by Maryrose Wood, is written for middle-grade readers. Fifteen-year-old nanny Penelope Limley has recently graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. On her own for the first time in her life, Penelope arrives at the mysterious Ashton Place with her meager belongings and the memorized "pithy kernels of knowledge" from the school's headmistress and her mentor, Agatha Swanburne.
Although Penelope appears calm on the outside, her mind is always in full drama mode. Wood does a great job of treating the reader to Penelope's amusing inner thoughts as she takes on the care of three children who are wild as the woods.
Underneath Penelope's quiet veneer is a young girl who steps up to and embraces the challenge of these three unusual and unfortunate orphaned children, with remarkable results. Their pasts are a mystery. The kids howl, bark, chase squirrels, and develop their own language within the English Penelope teaches them. Lord Ashton and his flighty new wife, Lady Constance, have little use for the children. The fact that they call the children "The Incorrigibles" and use it as their last name demonstrates how they feel about them.
Penelope develops a wonderful relationship with Casseopia, Beowolf, and Alexander. The dialogue, pacing and descriptions are wonderful. What goes on is fun and exciting and the climax of the book had me laughing out loud. I'm looking forward to the next installment so that the unanswered mysteries might be solved. My ten-year-old daughter thought the book was "fun" and wanted to read the next in the series right away.
Maryrose Wood grew up in the wild suburbs of Long Island. She enjoys gardening, kayaking, napping, reading tons of books, and trying new vegetarian recipes (with mixed success). She lives in New York with her two children, two kittens, and a small, feisty, red-headed dog. And has written numerous Young Adult books. Visit her website.
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