Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter: The tale of Oak Cake Crag

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter: The tale of Oak Cake Crag

Susan Wittig Albert
Fiction  Series
For ages 14 and up
Penguin, 2010   ISBN: 978-0425236611

Miss Beatrix Potter does not like dirty, smoky, and noisy London, but for months she has been trapped there, kept in her parent’s home by her demanding mother and father, who think that it is Beatrix’s duty to be at their beck and call. Now, in March, she has finally put her foot down, and she has successfully escaped to her farm in the Lake District.

Unfortunately, the peace and quiet that she has been looking forward to is proving to be elusive. Someone has decided that the area around Lake Windermere is the perfect place to test drive a new sea plane. As a result, the people living in the villages around the lake are being subjected to the irritating noises the plane makes as it flies up and down the lake for hours at a time. To say that is this aggravating to the local residents is an understatement.

The villagers are not the only ones who are annoyed. The local animals, both domesticated and wild, are equally upset by this development. Professor Galileo Newton Owl is particularly upset that his airspace has been invaded by such a noisy and uncouth machine. If only something could be done about the plane.

The villagers call a meeting to discuss the hydroplane, but the man who is financing it does not turn up for the meeting. Everyone is very annoyed about this until he is found lying at the bottom of Oak Cake Crag. The poor man has not only broken several bones, but he is also unconscious, and no one knows when or if he will recover.

You would think that trying to solve the plane problem would be more than enough to be getting on with, but Miss Potter somehow ends up trying to deal with several other issues at the same time. Her friend Grace Lythecoe is receiving nasty anonymous letters, and Beatrix needs to find out who is responsible. Then there is the matter of her secret engagement with Will Heelis. Beatrix imagines that no one knows about it, but unfortunately, it turns out that word has got out and her parents know all about it.

In this seventh Cottage Tales title, Susan Wittig Albert brings us a story that is deliciously funny, and one that gives readers a singular picture of what it might have been like to live in Britain’s Lake District in the early 1900’s. Readers will enjoy following the various characters, both animal and human, in their daily adventures, and they will be delighted to see how problems are resolved, and what happens when secrets are revealed.