I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
I am very picky about children's books. I used to do children's programming at a public library and I am very passionate about juvenile literature. When I initially heard about this new series, I was intrigued and I am so happy that I was able to get an advance copy of the first book.
Miss Penelope Lumley (a cross between Anne of Green Gables and Jane Eyre) leaves the Swaburne Academy for Poor Bright Females in answer to an advertisement for a governess for three children at Ashton Place. The advertisement stresses that the governess must be good with animals. Upon arrival, Penelope finds three naked wild children found by Lord Ashton in the woods upon his property. They have been raised by wolves. Being a tenderhearted individual with a particular affection for animals, Penelope undertakes the challenge of socializing and enculturating Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia.
I found this book to be very charming. It is set in the mid-1800s and has a very old-fashioned feel to it. Penelope is plucky and no-nonsense with a good heart. I love her as a protagonist and role model for young girls. I was disappointed that the author didn't spend a bit more time on Penelope's socializing of the children. It seems they went from naked wild things to clothed poetry-appreciators too quickly. Wood missed out on a lot of opportunities for humor there. The book sets up several mysteries that will unfold in the series: where did the children come from? Who are their parents? What is the source of the secret howling at Ashton Place? What is Old Timothy up to? It would have been nice to have at least one questions answered in this first book but it definitely leaves you wanting more.
PARENTAL ADVISORY: (*possible spoiler alert*)
This book is very clean. No foul language or questionable content. The children are naked at the beginning of the book but it is entirely appropriate and innocent. The book does have some sinister content. It is hinted that Lord Ashton intended his hunting buddies to hunt and possibly kill the children. A little horrific for a children's book but the whole thing was vague enough not to unsettle a reader too much.
BOTTOM LINE: A charming new children's book with a great heroine and lots of potential for the series. Probably a better fit for girls and those who like classic children's books such as THE SECRET GARDEN.