This middle grade series by Maryrose Wood is set in Victorian England setting and follows the adventures of young Miss Penelope Lumley. She has recently graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and is beginning her position as the governess to the three new wards at Ashton Place. Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia were raised by wolves. Literally. And it is up to Miss Lumley to train them in proper etiquette, and educate them in history, mathematics, Latin, and all other proper pursuits. However, larger and larger mysteries abound as Penelope and the Incorrigibles make friends, enemies, and end up in more scrapes than should be possible.
If you would like to learn more about the series you can go to the Incorrigible Children website and if you want to see what Maryrose Wood is up to you can check out her website or follow her on Twitter. I just found out about #swanburnewednesdays where Maryrose is encouraging retweets with contests so I'll be over there tweeting my heart out today! Plus she has the cutest hashtag ever with #ahwoo - and you have to read the books to understand that.
So here are the 10 things I absolutely adored about Maryrose Wood's Incorrigible Children Series
- The Tone. I know that so many books have been described as Snicket-esque. I've described books that way myself. But somehow Maryrose Wood pulls off a vaguely Snicketish tone while combining it with an air of Jane Austen and yet managing to feel completely original. The voice is mature, but not out of reach of the age range for which it is written. This is an author who trusts her audience and does not talk down to the children who make up her primary audience.
- Penelope Lumley. She is just the right mix of plucky, sober-minded, warm-hearted heroine with a sense of humor to boot. She is curious and grows through her experiences. Even though she's older than the typical middle grade heroine at fifteen, the focus is enough on her young charges and the tone is such that it never feels like a YA book. And I really like the fact that it was marketed as a middle grade series.
- Old Timothy the coachman. Mysterious, gruff, with a kind heart (though he'd never really show it :) - everything an old coachman should be. I'm really curious to learn more about him.
- The Incorrigibles. For children raised by wolves they are very well behaved. I love their little quirks and while it might be unbelievable that a six year old girl who grew up in the woods would be able to learn how to parse Latin verbs, somehow it works. I also love their names. They are adorable and good-hearted and (I just realized that each of these descriptions has included a reference to the characters hearts, but they're apt descriptions so they're staying) I really wish I was their adoptive mother rather than the disinterested Lady Constance.
- Speaking of. Lady Constance and Lord Frederick. I like them in the role that they play. Their disinterest (along with Lord Frederick's mysterious secret) create a great foil for Penelope and the children.
- Simon Harley-Dickinson. I want more of him. Way more than we're given. So I'm really hoping he surfaces much more often in the next book(s).
- Nutsawoo. Could there be a more adorable animal sidekick? Seriously straight out of a Disney movie.
- Miss Swanburne's sayings. The founder of Penelope's Alma Mater has left a legacy of pithy sayings that Benjamin Franklin would have been proud of. I love how often they pop up and how "little" sense some of them make while somehow being incredibly profound. I was reminded of a saying Dick Van Dyke mentioned in his memoir that he always said: "you can spread jelly on peanut butter, but you can't spread peanut butter on jelly." There's a Swanburne-ism if she'd been born in more modern times if I ever heard one.
- The hunt is on. There are so many mysteries you almost need an abacus to keep them all straight. Something Cassiopeia could do with ease. There are so many little details and things you start to put together but then something else happens or is revealed. Even some things which are obvious end up being not so obvious because even though you know a certain thing you don't understand how it fits into the bigger picture and I need to read the next book to figure it out!
- There are SIX books in this series. SIX OF THEM! I'm so excited! I'm only half way done! I have three more whole books to look forward to!