Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone: The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Perciva

Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone: The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Perciva

Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Emily Janice Card
Brilliance Audio , 2011   ISBN: 978-1455857470

It is a warm day in May, and the year is 1903. Since the weather is so pleasant, Petronella, her uncle, and some of her closest friends are outside on the lawn enjoying “a little luncheon” to celebrate Petronella’s sixteenth birthday. Petronella is looking forward to a successful coming out season in the months to come. During the luncheon outdoors, Petronella’s guardian, her uncle Augustus, accidentally swallows a very large beetle. Though this is certainly a disagreeable occurrence, no one suspects that it will have dire consequences. It is only several hours later that Petronella and her friends, Jane and James Sinclair, discover that Uncle Augustus has acquired a dreadful appetite “for all things of the insect and arachnoid varieties.” In short, Uncle Augustus likes to eat bugs.

Now you might not think that this would be such a terrible thing, but Petronella does. How can she hope to have a successful season if her uncle goes about catching and eating insects in public? The “conventions of society” will not tolerate such behavior. Why, Petronella’s dreadful aunts might even claim that Uncle Augustus is not fit to be her guardian, and take over that responsibility. Considering that both the aunts are terrifying women, this cannot be allowed to happen.

Petronella’s situation is made even more complicated when two of the guests who attend her soiree that evening are kidnapped. Though Petronella does not really know Dame Carruthers, an actress favored by the king, and Generalissimo Reyes-Cardoza, a Panamanian revolutionary, she does feel somewhat responsible for their abduction because they were her guests. Petronella sets about trying to find them. Somehow she has to do this without exposing Uncle Augustus’ unfortunate affliction, while at the same time keeping her money grubbing aunts at bay.

This deliciously funny title transports listeners into the world of a young heiress in Edwardian England who is doing her best to have an ordinary life. She has no interest in having adventures, and yet she rises to the challenge when adventures are thrust upon her. Listeners will be hard pressed not to laugh as they follow poor Petronella’s escapades, and when they see what she does to keep her uncle’s strange dietary predilections a secret.