by Joan Aiken
Overall: 3.5 out of 5 stars
This is the first installment in a series similar to The Chronicles of Narnia, in that the books don’t all deal with the same characters and weren’t all written in order (or take place chronologically), but there are connections and continuity. The series begins following Bonnie, her cousin Sylvia and Simon the Gooseboy. Subsequent adventures in the series mostly follow Dido and Simon. There are strange dangers to look out for and these small heroes and heroines are constantly on their guard against wolves, kings, and other would-be capturers.
Personal Evaluation: For the time these books were written, they were pretty dark. Now they might seem more moderate, given what kids are reading these days. I loved the adventure of it, and the way each book focused on a different character. I also liked that the books took a bit longer to read than an average short series book, allowing more time with the characters.
What might interest children: It reminds me a bit of the Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events (though that one reminds me more of The Bagthorpe Saga), with orphans and cruel guardians and escape plans and adventure (only not as funny). It might also be good for older kids who enjoyed the Mysterious Benedict Society when they were younger. I’d say these books are good for middle schoolers, possibly a 5th grader.