Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ahwooooooo Revisited: The hunt is on!

The Incorrigibles are back in The Hidden Gallery, the second title in Maryrose Wood's middle grade mystery series, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. [For a quick catch-up on the first in the series, read here.]

After Lady Ashton's disastrous Christmas ball that ended Book 1, during which a rogue squirrel caused a bit of an uproar with the Incorrigibles, Ashton Place is left in a state of disarray and requiring repair. Seems like as good a time as any for the Ashtons and the Incorrigibles, accompanied by their faithful, loving governess Penelope Lumley, to head to London. Armed with a unique London guidebook, "Lumawoo" has great expectations for the big city, a place to expand the education of her charges—Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia.

But London just means more space and more opportunities to get into trouble. An encounter with a menacing stranger on the train, ominous words from a Gypsy woman, a fortuitous encounter with a helpful young man, and the reunion of Penelope with her former teacher, Miss Mortimer, indicate that nothing is as normal as Penelope would hope. Our heroine makes her way through London, attempting to avoid trouble, educate the children, and investigate the mysterious past of the Incorrigibles. Perhaps Lumawoo is in over her head!

Trouble seems to find the Incorrigibles, which makes for an exciting, fast-paced story. Yet, Wood draws out the mystery of the Incorrigibles very, v e r y  s  l  o  w  l  y. Some readers may be disappointed to finish and realize that no questions have been answered and even more have been asked. What's the significance of the British Museum's hidden Gallery 17: Overuse of Symbolism in Minor Historical Portraits? Why does Miss Mortimer insist Penelope use a hair-dulling shampoo? And what's the real story behind Penelope's long-lost parents?

Miss Lumley, though, is a resourceful, energetic governess—and only a mere teen! The musings of the Incorrigibles are just too entertaining to not enjoy. How do you respond to a group of children who can't fully shake their animal instincts and mistake British Bearskin hats for wild animals (as seen on the cover)? With a giggle and enthusiasm to read the next in the series. MORE PLEASE!

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