The Tale of Holly How
by Susan Wittig Albert

Berkley, 2005. ISBN 0425202747.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 12/08/2005

Fiction: Mystery; Teen/Girls

If you do not have the wherewithal to visit the Lake Country in England this year, The Tale of Holly How will bring you the breezes, the sky, the hills [or hows], the people and the villages. Within this mostly gentle setting, we find Miss Potter continuing to refurbish and to restock Hill Top Farm amidst the drama of the death of Ben Hornby, the selection of a new head teacher for the tiny school, and the sad situation of Caroline, who has come to live with her grandmother at the manor.

Other smaller dramas take place not only in the human venue, but in that of the animals of the area as well. In spite of the humans [Big Ones] not understanding the universal animal language, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses and others talk among themselves and to the most understanding humans, who seem to catch on—sometimes. Bosworth Badger XVII, scholarly patriarch of Holly How, and Tuppenny, Beatrix Potter's self-effacing guinea pig, join forces to help resolve one of the mini-plots throughout the book. Rascal the dog finds an important clue leading to the apprehension of Ben's murderer.

My daughter and I share some of our more sophisticated books. She, my oldest granddaughter and I all read the Harry Potter series. I also exchange books with Audry, the oldest granddaughter. She has shared her Owl adventure series with me and more recently, her Warriors cat series. I'll be passing on The Tale of Holly How to her shortly since she enjoyed The Tale of Hill Top Farm. We have good discussions about plots, characters and, often, the folly of humans. We both agree that animals certainly do talk among themselves.

In the cottage tales genre, one can be assured that all will turn out right. Albert's give me pleasure and comfort for a few hours. However, do not for a moment assume that these stories are maudlin and insipid. Albert is a skillful writer who has created stories in a lovely setting that magically appeal to adults and young girls.

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