Book Review: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

Written by Mary Rose Wood and illustrated by Jon Klassen

“Of especially naughty children it is sometimes said, “They must have been raised by wolves.  The Incorrigible children actually were.”

This series has been described as a cross between Jane Eyre and Lemony Snicket!

Although these very funny and quirky books are written for children in middle to upper primary school, adults will love reading about the adventures of plucky governess Miss Penelope Lively and her three pupils Alexander, Beowolf and Cassiopeia Incorrigible.  You will also look forward to finding the drawings interspersed through the book by artist Jon Klassen, who is known for his work on animated films Coraline and Kung Fu Panda 2.

Join Penelope on a series of adventures in the first three books (so far) in which Mary Rose Wood makes fun of polite society in Victorian England.

A well educated graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, fifteen-year-old Penelope secures her first job at Ashton Manor.  She soon discovers she is to teach and civilise three wild but sweet children who were found in the local woods then named by the pompous Lord Ashton.  Penelope has to put up working for Lady Constance, Ashton’s pretty, selfish flibbertigibbet of a wife who would prefer to see the children sent to an orphanage or the workhouse.  Though young, Penelope is not deterred, having been instilled with enthusiasm, courage, good sense and the many sayings of her school’s founder, the wise Agatha Swanburne.

Penelope has many mysteries to solve.  How did the children survive in the woods?  Is Timothy, the crusty old coachman, a friend or foe?  Who has been deliberately creating perilous situations so the children will revert to their wild state?  Does Lord Ashton and really want to hunt down the children, stuff and mount their heads in his study to accompany his other trophy animals?  Are the children really cursed, as predicted by gypsy fortune teller, Madame Ionesco?  What of the mysterious howling in the attic?  Poor Penelope ponders why her parents abandoned her as a young child at the Swanburne Academy.  Will she ever see them again?  Of course, she can always take her mind off her problems by thinking of her new friend that she meets in London, the young, talented playwright, Mr Simon Harley- Dickonson!

You can reserve The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place online through the Library’s catalogue or enquire next time you visit the library.