Monday, April 13, 2015

Ms. Rapscott's Girls

Booklist starred January 1, 2015 (Vol. 111, No. 9)
Grades 3-6. A notice goes out: “Attention Busy Parents! Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents has a unique curriculum designed solely for your daughter.” For parents who are too busy to bring their daughters (which is all of them), a cardboard box is provided for mailing them to the school. This sets the tone for a story that fits neatly into the literary world of Mary Poppins and Nanny Piggins, where bemused children are brought up to snuff by a caring, albeit odd and occasionally alarming, caretaker. Here the children are belligerent Bea, fact-filled Amanda, nervous Fay, and lazy Mildred, and their teacher is Ms. Rapscott, a head-girl type who was once a child of busy parents herself and prefers a life so bracing that she lives in a lighthouse where the weather is always bad. How Ms. Rapscott pushes her charges beyond what they thought themselves capable of makes for a clever, highly amusing read with some sterling life lessons slipped in the cracks. Almost best of all are Primavera’s fanciful pencil illustrations, featuring two of the most delightful (if silent) of the book’s characters, Lewis and Clark, turtlenecked corgis that efficiently manage the girls and their hair-raising adventures. A plucky, invigorating romp with more adventures on the horizon.

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