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Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place III: the Unseen Guest. Written by Maryrose Wood and illustrated by Jon Klassen. Balzer & Bray, Harper. 2012. $17.99 ages 8 and up

"Penelope had less trouble deciding what to wear, for she spent more of her governess's salary on books than clothes and saved the rest in accordance with Agatha Swanburne's wise financial advice: "Nest eggs do not hatch unless you sit on them for a good long time." Shortly before eight, she slipped on her best summer dress (which was very much like her everyday summer dress..."

I was definitely looking forward to this book's arrival in my mailbox. I so enjoyed the first two in the series, and I must tell you that I also loved this third one. I know there's going to be another; too many questions are left unanswered, and mysteries left unsolved. Can't wait!!!

The sage sayings of Agatha Swanburne remain clear in Penelope's mind as she continues to care for the Incorrigibles:

"It is easier to change one's boots than to change one's mind, but it is far easier to change one's mind about whether or not to wear boots than it is to change the weather."


"Busy hands and idle minds have knitted many a sweater; busy minds and idle hands have knitted many a brow."

Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia remain true to themselves, keen to learn and achieving more human characteristics with each passing lesson and day. They put everything they learn from their beloved Penelope Lumley to good use. They are funny, more and more articulate and add a happy tone to the day's events. Simon and Madame Ionesco are back and integral to the story, and are welcomed by Penelope and her charges when they arrive to change the direction of a few lives at Ashton Place.

The narrator's voice remains consistent and oh, so enjoyable. A kind and gentle tone, ever curious and informative, with a constant regard for the governess and the children she loves, keeps readers apprised of all that we need to know.  I often laughed out loud and certainly added numerous quotes to my reading journal:

"If you now think that you would rather confront a herd of Profoundly Outraged  Elephants in a Perilously Oscillating Elevator than hear another word about homonyms, acronyms, or any other kind of nyms - well, think again. There is power in words used accurately and well, and tragedy and missed train connections in words used carelessly."


"If Baby Last Dodo had known that he or she would be the final specimen of the dodo kind, would BLD have taken more precautions about avoiding head colds and looking both ways at street crossings and so forth? Alas, we shall never know..."

You cannot help but read such observations a second time.

The children are very excited to visit the forest where they grew up while on the hunt for a runaway ostrich. They revert to earlier behaviors that prove hilarious, while very useful in keeping Penelope safe from the elements and from harm. Glitches in the search lead to Penelope taking action to prevent heartache and chicanery for Lord Ashton's mother. Plot twists and secretive behavior leave readers with much to consider as they anticipate The Incorrigibles IV.

A great series for middle grade is worthy of sharing because of its wonderful characters, its mysteries and its humor. Seeing the children in their natural environment adds a new dimension to their story and leaves more questions to be answered. Ostriches, friendly wolves, a medicinal tar pit are part of the ongoing crises faced by the indomitable Penelope and her charges.

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