Posts Tagged ‘Joan Aiken’

This week I cheated a little and read a children’s book.

Book 38 – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, by Joan Aiken.  I don’t remember ever reading this as a child and yet I have it on my bookcase so can only assume I was passed it in a box of books at some point.  It is most definitely a book for children rather than adults, but it does not speak down to children; it uses language, imagery and ideas that are quite adult in their nature.

The book follows Bonnie and Sylvia, cousins who have just met whose lives change dramatically when Bonnie’s parents, Sylvia’s guardians, leave the country.  Their distant cousin is employed to care for the two girls but as the story develops we see she has no interest in caring for them and is only after the riches of the family.  When the boat Bonnie’s parents are travelling on is reported shipwrecked, things go from bad to worse for the girls.

There’s a neat symmetry in the book between the threat posed by the wolves and that posed by humans; as the human threat changes and the two heroines take action to protect themselves, the threat of the wolves recedes.  It is almost as though the exposure the two girls have to the world outside Willoughby Chase shows that danger appears in many different guises.

There are parts of this book that remind me very much of other stories – a bit of Oliver Twist here, a dash of The Little Princess there – but for all that I found it an engaging and entertaining story; one I’m sure I would have loved when I was about 9 or 10 too!

If you’re looking for something not too overwhelming that you can share with your own children this one might be worth a look.

Until next time,

Happy reading



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