Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Holly How

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Holly How

Susan Wittig Albert
Fiction  Series
For ages 14 and up
Penguin, 2006   ISBN: 978-0425206133

Life in the twin villages of Near Sawrey and Far Sawrey appears to be going along as smoothly as can be expected and yet there are undercurrents of trouble. Many people are worried that Margaret Nash, the beloved school teacher at Sawrey School, will not be selected to be the new headmistress. On Holly How old Bosworth badger is greatly disturbed because a badger sett in the area has been dug up. A mother badger and her two kits are missing and feared taken by the cruel badger baiters who like to force badgers to fight dogs for entertainment. At Tidmarsh Manor Lady Longford is suffering from some mysterious ailment and her granddaughter, Caroline, recently orphaned and brought to England from New Zealand, is miserable. Then, to top it all off an old man, the tenant of the farm on Holly How, is found dead under suspicious circumstances.

Beatrix Potter who is overseeing the renovations of her own farm is the one who finds old Ben’s body and right from the beginning she finds herself involved in the case. She also involves herself in the plight of young Caroline, taking her a guinea pig called Tuppenny to play with and to keep her company for a few weeks. From the start she distrusts and dislikes Lady Langford’s secretary companion, Miss Martine. There is something about the women that just doesn’t sit well with Beatrix especially when she hears that Martine likes to pinch Caroline to punish her.

With her confidence in herself growing almost on a daily basis Beatrix gently but firmly sets about trying to find out what is going on in her adopted home. As she begins to learn what it means to own and run a farm, she also starts to understand the undercurrents, some of the very dark, which can run through a village in the country.

Once again Susan Wittig Albert dives into the world of a small farming community in England in the early 1900’s. Through the eyes of Beatrix, her friends, and numerous animals, both pets and wild creatures of the fields and woods, the author takes us to a different place and time. Vivid and enormously attractive characters carry the reader forward as one by one the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.