Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review - L.M. Boston's The Children of Green Knowe

The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston
Published by: Odyssey
Publication Date: 1954
Format: Paperback, 192 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy
Toseland is being sent off to the country to spend the holidays at Green Noah, the family estate on his mother's side. His father is off gallivanting in warmer climates with his new wife while Tolly braves the flooded plains to reach his great-grandmother's, just as if he was Noah himself. The house is warm and inviting after the waterlogged journey. Tolly feels instantly at home. Every shadow is a friend, and if he's patient enough, Granny Oldknow hints, then perhaps the house will offer up it's secrets. Green Noah has remained in the family down through the centuries, and ghosts do tend to happen in big English Manor Houses. But the ghosts here are family. Their lives are stories to enchant young Toseland at the fireside with Granny Oldknow. She weaves the past into a living memory. Toby and his faithful horse Feste, his younger brother Alexander, whose voice and flute entranced Charles II, and young Linnet, with her animals, become Tolly's best friends. They might have died hundreds of years ago, but they do start to make rare appearances just for Tolly. Soon Tolly's life is a magical adventure, as the flood waters recede and the ground is covered in a thick blanket of snow. He plays with the animals, especially the birds, who were Linnet's favorites as well. The house and it's abiding spirits have welcomed Tolly, only there is a dark secret. A gypsy curse that haunts the ground... if Tolly is strong enough, perhaps he can overcome the evil and be lucky enough to finally see that which he wants to most, Toby's loyal steed, Feste, who is notoriously shy.

The Children of Green Knowe is an enchanting quick read sure to capture the minds of young readers. L.M. Boston has created a world where ghosts aren't scary or terrifying, but welcoming and family. She believes in the legacy of family and the importance of history. All the history it not sugarcoated, everyone doesn't live, but there's a feeling of safety, a feeling that everything will be all right. It has a similar feeling to that of The Chronicles of Narnia, only it lacks the saccharine sweetness and the religious overtones. For being written over fifty years ago, it has a contemporary feeling. Also, unlike many children authors, L.M. Boston doesn't talk down to the reader. There is no patronizing, there is no shielding, there is just a good story.

Oh, how I wish that all authors would just rely on children to be able to read without condescension and instead feed their imagination. Just go back and read The Wizard of Oz sometime, or any of the rest of the Oz series, yes, there where other books. L. Frank Baum just talked down to you. Reading those books you felt as if he was patting you on the head and congratulating you on being able to form a sentence. You ended up wanting to harm him, whereas here, I just desperately needed the next book. I want to champion this book as a new old classic. It lets your imagination fill in the blanks, it doesn't spell out everything, like the battle with the evil... now that would be telling. I didn't want to throttle Tolly, I didn't hate him as I did those characters form that well regarded children's classic, The Secret Garden. How I wish I could harm those children. But alas, you can't harm those who reside in books, instead, just pick up this book and realize what a classic it should be. Fans of The Spinderwick Chronicles are heartily encouraged to devour this book, trust me, it's right up your street.


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