Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Strictest School in the world

The Strictest School in the world

Howard Whitehouse
Illustrator:  Bill Slavin 
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Kids Can Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-1553378839

Emmaline is determined that she is going to be an aviatrix. It does not matter that she has no clue how to build a flying machine, nor does she allow herself to get discouraged by the fact that she is afraid to fly. No indeed, instead of letting herself get disheartened by these setbacks, Emmaline moves forward. First she finds herself a pilot. She is very lucky really for the person in question, a young boy called Robert Burns, is perfectly suited to the job as he does not seem to be able to hurt himself (much) when he has accidents. It is almost as if Robert, or Rubberbones, is made out of India rubber.

Next Rubberbones and Emmaline build a flying machine. The first flight is a great success and Emmaline is eager to try again. But, alas, it is now time for Emmaline to go to boarding school. Emmaline?s mother who is in far away India is determined that Emmaline should be turned into a proper young English lady and for some reason she seems to think St. Grimelda's School for Young Ladies is going to be able to do this. Emmaline quickly figures out that St. Grimelda's is little more than a prison. It is a dreadful place run by some truly frightful women. Worse still, the school houses some monster birds which have almost everyone in the school frightened out of their wits.

Emmaline is not in the school long before she decides that she has to get out of there. Luckily Rubberbones and Emmaline's Aunt Lucy are of the same opinion. The question is, how are they going to get Emmaline out of the school without running into the school staff or their horrific 'pets'?

Readers of all ages will find this gripping adventure hard to put down once they have begun the story. Set in Victorian England, readers will be delighted to follow along as Emmaline, Rubberbones, Aunt Lucy, and their colorful selection of friends try to find ways to rescue Emmaline from the world's strictest school. Bill Slavin's pen and ink illustrations are delightfully reminiscent of artwork from the Victorian era and at the same time they perfectly capture the atmosphere of the story.