Volume 4 of this funny middle grades series has Penelope, Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia back in London attempting to save the Swanburne School for Poor Bright Females.
The Interrupted Tale (Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #4) by Maryrose Wood and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. Balzer + Bray, 2013. 385 pages.
As readers of the series can attest, Miss Penelope Lumley is a shining example of a Swanburne girl who remains true to her alma mater and fiercely loyal to Agatha Swanburne’s own shining example as demonstrated through her pithy nuggets of wisdom. Thus, when her beloved Miss Mortimer invites Penelope to give a speech at the annual Swanburne CAKE (Celebrate Alumnae Knowledge Exposition), Penelope is eager to serve and brings along her three students as examples of what a Swanburne-trianed governess can achieve. But all is not well at the Swanburne Academy, more mysterious details are unearthed, and Simon Harley-Dickinson makes a dashing reappearance. Fans of the series will enjoy this interlude, but they will be eager for more answers than they will find.
About the Series: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series chronicles Penelope’s attempts to civilize Lord and Lady Ashton’s wards while dodging dangerous situations and learning more about their mysterious parentage (and her own). Fans of the Lemony Snicket books will notice a similar tone in this series as droll, understated asides to the reader pepper the storyline and a self consciously elevated style will have readers in giggles. Threads introduced in the first volume are still being resolved in volume 5; this is a series that must be read in order! The value of all life (human and animal) is a subtle theme running through the series, and no one person is less significant than another regardless of his or her idiosyncrasies. These make delightful read alouds, appeal to both boys and girls, and will strike chords with other children who are also learning at home (whether from a governess or their own parents). Much like in many traditional fairy tales, such as Beauty and the Beast, a family curse is involved. Otherwise, the series reads more like British historical fiction with no outright magic, wizards, or dragons making an appearance.
Cautions: Supernatural (a family curse)
Overall Rating: 4
Other Titles in the Series (to date):