Sunday, August 31, 2014

Book Review: The Orphelines in the Enchanted Castle by Natalie Savage Carlson (1964)

The Orphelines are thrilled to be moving to their new orphanage. The building looks like a castle, and the girls are convinced that the boys joining them there will be just like knights. Unfortunately, the boys are not as thrilled about sharing space with girls, and they welcome the orphelines with a series of mean pranks.

Each book of this series is completely charming, and this one is no exception. The personalities of the girls - especially Brigitte and Josine  - clash perfectly with the boys' rougher, street-wise attitudes, making for a series of truly humorous episodes at the castle. Kids as young as five will understand the girls' indignation over the boys' mean jokes, as well as the impish boys' desire to rebel against their imposed knighthood. Readers will also appreciate the clever "magic" by which the adults ultimately reform the boys' behavior while still allowing them to feel in control of their fate.

Of the three books in this series that I have read, this is the only one not illustrated by Garth Williams, and though Adrianna Savozzi's pictures are fine, I did miss Williams's characteristic style. Pictures aside, however, this book is a cheerful tale with a happy ending from which readers can walk away feeling utterly satisfied. I can't wait to share this series with my daughter in a few years!

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