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Mennyms in the Wilderness

Mennyms in the Wilderness

by Sylvia Waugh, Patrick Benson (Artist)

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The Mennyms — that family of living dolls — are in a terrible state. They have just learned that their wonderful old house at 5 Brocklehurst Grove is to be torn down to make way for the new highway.Then Albert, the first human ever to learn the Mennyms' secret, takes them to live in the country, where they are all quite miserable. Living outside the


The Mennyms — that family of living dolls — are in a terrible state. They have just learned that their wonderful old house at 5 Brocklehurst Grove is to be torn down to make way for the new highway.Then Albert, the first human ever to learn the Mennyms' secret, takes them to live in the country, where they are all quite miserable. Living outside the big old house that's been their only home for all of their forty years is very frightening.The Mennyms begin to wonder if they can survive in this new world ... and keep their secret safe from prying eyes.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Waugh's second book is just as good as The Mennyms, and maybe even better-her characters, outsize rag dolls who have come to life, are a lot more believable than many fictional human families. Everything goes wrong at Brocklehurst Grove when the Mennyms once again receive a letter from Albert Pond (the real one, not the mystical Australian whose letter caused such trouble in the first book). Albert-an orphaned, ineffectual-seeming university lecturer-has been made aware (by the ghost of Aunt Kate, the Mennyms' creator and Albert's own great-great-aunt) of the town council's fiendish plans to raze the family home and to ``drive a motorway right through the house.'' In order to shield the Mennyms from curious human eyes, Albert takes them to a gloomy, isolated country house. Though they pine for Brocklehurst Grove, the Mennyms' new life is not without its adventures. A hilariously suspenseful episode in which Soobie, the blue Mennym, is held prisoner by a gang of boys who want him for their Guy Fawkes' Day bonfire allows Waugh to explore the relationship between dolls and humans with her own blend of delicious whimsy and rigorous logic. An odd, enchanting and thoroughly satisfying fantasy. Ages 10-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Judith Gravitz
The Mennyms have returned in a sequel as charming as their debut The Mennyms, (1993). Having survived the threat of a human visitor and their discovery in the first novel; it seems to be for real ("real" real and not "pretend" real as the Mennyms are wont to do) in this sequel. Albert Pond writes to the Mennyms, declares his existence, notifies them of an imminent threat to their home, and his desire to visit them. Once again, the Mennyms are thrown into the perilous position of being discovered by humans. Waugh gently pokes fun at human behavior through the actions and words of the Mennyms - living dolls whom never age. In this novel Waugh addresses the issues of love, loyalty, historic preservation.
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
The characters, in the tradition of The Borrowers, are charming and memorable in this sequel to the first, popular book, The Mennyms, that introduced the residence of Brocklehurst Grove. Send stronger readers on the adventure of their lives with this veddy proper English book about rag-dolls who live real and pretend lives just parallel to humans, but are rarely discovered. Here, their home is threatened by a new highway and human Albert Pond is recruited to halt the invasion.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-The Mennyms (Greenwillow, 1994) have returned with a similar dilemma to that of Mary Norton's miniature folk, The Borrowers (Harcourt, 1953): they must leave their familiar and comfortable home. The family of rag dolls, mysteriously given life and personalities by their creator, the deceased Kate Penshaw, has lived peaceably for 40 years in Kate's home in Brocklehurst Grove. Now the Mennyms are being threatened by a proposed motorway that may take their house and others in the Grove. This crisis prompts Kate's ghost to appear to her great-nephew, Albert Pond, asking him to intervene on their behalf. The dolls' contact with humans has been, of necessity, limited; Albert is incredulous, but willing. What ensues is a totally believable series of events in which the man transports them to a country mansion that has long been vacant but is still in his family. Each of the Mennyms reacts to the move differently, and that is the strength of Waugh's writing-the characterizations are exceptionally vivid and true. Plotting is stronger and faster paced than in the first book, and children will enjoy the excitement of motorbike rides and a kidnapping as well as the family's dilemma, which is resolved in the end. A great read-aloud choice.-Connie C. Rockman, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.81(h) x 0.92(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Letter

22 Calder Park
August 10th

Dear Family

This is the strangest and most difficult letter I have ever had to write.- It flies in the face of common sense. If you are real people living at 5 Brocklehurst Grove, you won't have a clue what I'm talking about. My waste-paper bin is full of discarded efforts. More than once, I decided to give up trying. But a promise to a ghost is very compelling, even in the light of common day. I have to keep telling myself that I did see a ghost and I did make a promise.

I am an ordinary human being. In no way am I special. But, if the things I have been told are true, you will recognize my name. I was called after my father. My name is Albert Pond. But I am not a mythical Australian. I am English -- and completely real! All of which takes a fair bit of explaining.

It began one day last week ...

I was sitting on a bench by the river just above Prebends Bridge. I had been down in the depths of the library all morning, catching up on unfinished work. So it was a relief to come out for a breath of fresh air.

You must picture a steep grassy bank above me rising right up to the walls of the Cathedral. Beneath me there is a gritty path, more grass, and trees everywhere. The river below is barely visible. I am alone.

Then suddenly I am not alone. For the first time in my thirty years of life, I am about to see a ghost. It is a very weird experience. I have never even believed in ghosts before. First, I have the sense of there being someone close beside me. I look around. The path either side is deserted. The nearest humanbeings are on the bridge away to my left, not even within hailing distance. I look along the seat and there, hovering on my right, is what I can only describe as a swathe of gray smoke.

Everything around me becomes totally still. The leaves are not moving on the trees. There is no movement on the bridge. Everything is silent.

"Don't worry," says a firm voice out of the mist. "I won't take long."

Within seconds, there is no mist anymore, just a real, very solid, elderly lady wearing a heathercolored tweed jacket and skirt and a deep pink jumper. From her wiry gray hair, neatly bobbed, to her brown brogue shoes, she looks rather old-fashioned, but completely alive. Her sharp brown eyes are youthful. Her broad, downy cheeks are the color of ripe peaches, the lines on her face are faint and pleasant-looking.

"You won't know me," she says briskly, "but I know who you are. Your grandfather was my nephew. I am Kate Penshaw."

Then I realize with a shock that I have seen her before. She is in the family photograph album, holding my father on her knee when he was just two years old. I know it is the same woman, but if she were alive today she would have to be at least a hundred and ten.

"Why ain I not afraid of you?" I ask. I feel genuinely puzzled and out of my depth.

"Why should you be?" asks Kate with just the glimmer of a smile%

"You are a ghost, aren't you?"

"If you say so," says Kate. "I am not at all sure what I am. I do know what I am here for."

Then she tells me all about the Mennyms, down to the last detail. She knows much more than you might think. She claims to have lived with you and through you since the day she died. She makes me believe her, even though the things she says are totally fantastic.

"And now," she says as she brings the story up to the present, "they are in danger of losing their home. For the first time in all these years, they are threatened from outside in a way that could lead to their destruction. The danger is, as yet, no bigger than a speck on the horizon. But I have been warned of it. And, to put it very simply, I am here because we need your help."

She clasps her hands together in her lap and leans toward me with a look of real anxiety.

"Do you understand?"

I don't. But, from habit, I nod as if I do. People explain things much better if you don't insist upon understanding every word they say.

"Plans are being made," she continues, "to pull down Brocklehurst Grove and to drive a motorway right through the house. And there's not a thing I can do about it. I haven't the power, not the power it would need to stop something as big as that."

I suddenly realize what she wants me for. And it chills me to the bone. I don't ask her any of the obvious questions as to where she has come from and what it is like there, or how she has managed to come back, or even how you people are so alive. Instead, I say, "I can't see what use I would be. I'm not in town-planning or anything like that. I wouldn't know where to start."

Aunt Kate looks relieved.

"That's no problem, Albert. I can tell you where to start. I didn't come here without considering what could be done. Write to them. Meet them. Give them a new home if need be. There is Comus House, remember. You hardly ever go there yourself. You might as well put it to some good use."

She fixes me with those sharp brown eyes and makes me promise to do all I can.

"You won't be alone," she says. "I'll be there in the background keeping an eye on things."

Then she gets up and walks quickly away along the riverbank, She doesn't even dematerialize like a proper ghost. As for me, I just sit stunned as the leaves rustle in the breeze again and faint sounds of distant people and traffic reach my ears.

So now I am writing to warn you of what is going to happen, and, goodness knows how I'll do it, to offer you whatever help I can give. I still feel very unsure of some of the things Aunt Kate told me, but I'll be in an even worse muddle if I have to decide whether ghosts can tell lies. So all I can do is try to believe everything and act accordingly.

As far as I can make out, the motorway must still be in its very early planning stage. None of your neighbors will know anything about it yet, There is no desperate hurry. I have Kate's word for that. I already have a holiday arranged and she says it will be perfectly safe for me to go. I shall write again as soon as there is anything more to tell.

Take your time. Learn to live with the idea that there is one living human being who knows all about you but who will share that knowledge with no one. Aunt Kate was very firm on that point,

Yours sincerely,
Albert Pond

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