It all began with Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume. I read that almost ten years ago and immediately recommended it to everyone I knew. From there, I began collecting deliciously long and delightful titles of children’s books that I just knew I had to love based soley on that one distinguishing characteristic. Here are a few that I recommend primarily for readers who are between the ages of 8 and 12 and love to read about girls doing and learning and having adventures.
Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters
Lesley M.M. Blume
9780440421108, $7.99, paperback, Random House (Yearling)
Publisher’s Description: Eleven-year-old Cornelia is the daughter of two world-famous pianists – a legacy that should feel fabulous, but instead feels just plain lonely. She surrounds herself with dictionaries and other books to isolate herself from the outside world. But when a glamorous neighbor named Virginia Somerset moves next door with her servant Patel and a mischievous French bulldog named Mister Kinyatta, Cornelia discovers that the world is a much more exciting place than she had originally thought.
My note: I love that the little girl in this book truly grows throughout the novel. She starts off isolated, quiety, and shy, but is taken under Miss Somerset’s wing and has truly blossomed by the end. Also, I believe I can trace my love for Frenchies back to this book.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place
Maryrose Wood, illustrated by John Klassen
9780062366931, $6.99, paperback, HarperCollins (Balzer & Bray/Harperteen)
Publisher Description: Discovered in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children. Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. A recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must eliminate their canine tendencies.
But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to civilize the Incorrigibles in time for Lady Constance’s holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?
My note: Confession: I’ve cheated a little. Technically the title of the series is “The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place,” while each book has a much smaller title, like Book 1 here, The Mysterious Howling. But I think it should count because who else uses the word incorrigible these days, and yet once you look up the meaning, I think you’ll find several people in your life who might be described by that word.
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
9781250073396, $7.99, paperback, Macmillan (Square Fish)
Publisher’s Description: The students of St. Etheldreda’s School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings.
My note: If I ever went to a boarding school, I would hope it would be exactly like this one. Inconvenient poisonings, included.
The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls
9780060569488, $9.99, paperback, HarperCollins
Publisher Description: Franny longs for adventure but can’t even do a cartwheel. Pru can do a cartwheel but prefers hiding under her quilt making up safety tips. Cat has no use for safety tips but supposedly has ESP. And Ivy has had a seven-year string of bad luck–a Jinx that’s about to get a whole lot worse.
The four are thrown together when a pair of mysterious ruby red slippers turn up, along with the fashionably mad Cha-Cha Staccato, who bears a frightening resemblance to a certain wicked witch. . . .
As hilarious as it is original, The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls is an unforgettable take on girlhood, piano recitals, The Wizard of Oz, and the dependable everyday magic of true friendship.
My note: Being a fan of Elise Primavera’s Auntie Claus made me pick this one up and it will not disappoint!