Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Hill Top Farm

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Hill Top Farm

Susan Wittig Albert
Fiction  Series
For ages 14 and up
Penguin, 2005   ISBN: 978-0425201015

Beatrix Potter, the famous children’s book writer and illustrator, is very excited for she has finally bought a place of her own. Hill Top Farm is in the village of Sawrey in the Lake District in England, and she imagines being able to set up a real home and refuge for herself there. There are a few problems however, for the farmer who manages the farm is still living in the house. For now Beatrix is content to room with some people in the village, but she will have to make a decision about the farmer’s family soon. She wants him to continue to manage the farm and yet at the same time she wants to have the house for herself.

Then, there are a few mysteries brewing in the village which have everyone puzzled. Just before Beatrix arrived Miss Tolliver died rather suddenly and everyone wonders who is going to be the beneficiary of her will. There is also the matter of a missing Parish Register and the ‘stolen’ school roof fund. Did Jeremy Crosfield steal the money as Miss Crabbe insists or did someone - or something - else take the precious cash?

As so often happens in a small place everyone in Sawrey gets involved in these peculiar happenings, including the various cats, dogs and other animals in the village. Beatrix’s own pets, who came with her from London, have their own adventures in their new country environment.

The discoveries, activities and observations of all the animals are funny, often insightful, and, at times, downright brilliant. Their voices add a very special flavor to this exceptional mystery novel where we not only get to see some puzzles solved, but we also meet some wonderfully rich and vibrant characters. The reader also gets a wonderful picture of English village life and a tantalizing look into the heart and soul of one of the world’s most famous children’s book writers.