Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Hawthorn House

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Hawthorn House

Susan Wittig Albert
Fiction  Series
For ages 14 and up
Penguin, 2008   ISBN: 978-0425223284

Beatrix Potter is greatly enjoying the days that she is able to spend at her farm near the village of Sawrey. She has friends in the village whom she is very fond of, and the farm provides her with a much needed break from her overbearing and very negative parents. All is going well in the village and everyone is enjoying the summer fete. And then Beatrix gets a very unexpected gift; someone leaves a little baby girl in a basket on her doorstep.

Thankfully for Beatrix, Dimity Woodcock is happy to take over the care of the baby while her brother Captain Miles Woodcock, the Justice of the Peace, tries to find out who the baby is. Many of the villagers are convinced that the baby either belongs to, or was kidnapped by, the gypsies. The Captain follows a trail of clues, which bring him to Hawthorn House. It would seem that the baby's mother stayed at the house for a time and then ran off to London, leaving her baby behind. Outraged by the callousness of the mother, the Captain is determined to bring her to account for her actions.

Meanwhile the animals in Sawrey are having many discussions about the baby, about potential future marriages, and about Jemima Puddleduck. Jemima, who has not had the opportunity to be a mother as yet, has been sitting on her eggs for a lot longer than should be necessary.

In this splendid book Susan Wittig Albert not only arranges for Beatrix Potter to solve yet another intriguing mystery, but she also explores English village life, the doings of the fairy folk, and the relationships between the animals who live in Beatrix's village. Using a wonderfully colloquial style of writing in which she often addresses the reader, the author draws her audience into Beatrix's world, giving her readers a sense of what Beatrix Potter was like and making them feel a part of the events taking place in the story. Using humor and touches of whimsy, Susan Wittig Albert has created a delightful tale that readers of all persuasions will enjoy.

Readers might also like to visit the Beatrix Potter's Cottage Tales website for more information about the series, author and more.