The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling

4.5 63
by Maryrose Wood, Katherine Kellgren

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Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope

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Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and 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 help them overcome their canine tendencies.

But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—"Were you raised by wolves?" is a common question when children behave in an unruly manner. In Maryrose Wood's witty gem (HarperCollins, 2010), the answer is "Yes!" On a hunting trip, Lord Fredrick Ashton discovers three wild, naked children and decides to bring them home. His wife is too spoiled to care for feral children, so she hires Penelope Lumley to be their governess. Penelope's primary responsibility is to prepare the children for a holiday party that will occur in just a few months. All goes according to plan, and the children impress the guests with their etiquette and education. But a troublemaker's scheming threatens to undo all of their hard work, and their future at Ashton Place is uncertain. The tale concludes with several unanswered questions, building anticipation for the next volume in this excellent new series. Katherine Kellgren brilliantly narrates the tale which is told from Penelope's perspective; she also gives unique, convincing voices to the entire cast of characters. Listeners will particularly enjoy her interpretation of the children's speech patterns, including life-like wolf noises. Her knack for pacing heightens tension at the appropriate moments. With an exceptional story and first-rate narration, this audiobook is a must-have for library collections.—Amy Holland, Hamlin Public Library, NY
Publishers Weekly
In this humorous kickoff to the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, Wood (My Life: The Musical) injects new life into the governess theme by charging genteel 15-year-old Penelope Lumley (educated at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females) with three wild children—Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia—who were raised in the woods and taken into the “care” of Lord Frederic Ashton and his selfish, superficial bride (the children are living in a barn when Penelope arrives). With a Snicketesque affect, Wood's narrative propels the drama; Penelope is a standout, often invoking the truisms of her school's founder (“The best way to find out how fast a horse can run is to smack it on the rump”) while caring for the Incorrigibles—named such so they won't be presumed Ashton's heirs. Despite the slapstick situations involving the children's disheveled appearance, pack behavior, and lack of language, the real barbarism comes from the Ashtons and a society that eagerly anticipates their failure. Though the novel ends a bit abruptly, the pervasive humor and unanswered questions should have readers begging for more. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
Fresh from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, 15-year-old Penelope Lumley reports to remote but palatial Ashton Place and discovers just why the advertisement for a governess indicated a strong preference for "Experience with Animals." The three young children are not the offspring of disdainful newlywed Lady Ashton but were recently found in the forest, raised (apparently) by wolves. Lacking magical props but in every other respect a Mary Poppins in the bud, Miss Lumley quickly gets the wild but winning trio out of the barn and into the nursery, washed, properly dressed and-thanks to a savvy strategy of "careful demonstration, a great deal of repetition, and the occasional use of tasty treats"-on the road to civilized behavior. Tongue so forcibly in cheek that medical intervention may be required, Wood plunges her inexperienced but resourceful heroine into an unusually challenging domestic situation, winds the plot up and closes with an aftermath laced with tantalizing hints that All Is Not As It Seems. It's the best beginning since The Bad Beginning (1999) and will leave readers howling for the next episode. (High melodrama. 10-12)
"How hearty and delicious...Smartly written with a middle-grade audience in mind, this is both fun and funny and sprinkled with dollops of wisdom (thank you, Agatha Swanburne). How will it all turn out? Appetites whetted."
Booklist (starred review)
“How hearty and delicious...Smartly written with a middle-grade audience in mind, this is both fun and funny and sprinkled with dollops of wisdom (thank you, Agatha Swanburne). How will it all turn out? Appetites whetted.”
Adam Rex
Every newspaper and website in America is going to tell you that The Mysterious Howling will leave you HOWLING FOR MORE! So I’m not going to say that. But it’s really good.

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Product Details

Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Series, #1
Age Range:
9 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I, The EPB

The Second Chapter

Penelope and Lady Constance converse to the accompaniment of strange noises.

If you have ever visited a theme park full of roller coasters, water slides, and thrilling games of chance, you were undoubtedly tickled half to death by it all. But then, just when it seemed the excitement had reached a fever pitch from which you might never recover, the tedious ordeal of waiting in a long line for the bathroom may have suddenly made you so bored that you wished you were home in bed with the flu.

So it was with Penelope. Despite the two days of anxious travel she had just endured and the important job interview that awaited her, as she sat there trapped in the carriage seat next to a coachman who had decided not to talk, Penelope grew excruciatingly bored. She decided it would be rude to glance at her poetry book.

"I shall have to resort to the scenery to keep me occupied," she thought, turning her mind to the task. They were now passing through stately woods. Dutifully she admired the golden-tipped canopy of leaves and observed how the sunlight could penetrate only here and there, dappling a lush undergrowth of ferns. Some of these she could identify even from a distance: Hart's-tongue ferns, cinnamon ferns, and some with attractive crinkled edges she thought were called corrugated ferns or, if they weren't, ought to be. Penelope had once attended a lecture at Swanburne given by the deputy vice president of the Heathcote Amateur Pteridological Society, and considered herself quite knowledgeable about ferns as a result.

Then she imagined the treesas they would soon look in the full blaze of autumn color-and then afterward, in winter, as a field of bare-branched giants standing on a blanket of white. It made her wonder (although not aloud), "And where will I be come Christmas? If all goes well, I will live here at Ashton Place, a strict but kind-hearted governess with three clever pupils who both fear and adore me."

Penelope had read several novels about such governesses in preparation for her interview and found them chock-full of useful information, although she had no intention of developing romantic feelings for the charming, penniless tutor at a neighboring estate. Or-heaven forbid!-for the darkly handsome, brooding, and extravagantly wealthy master of her own household. Lord Fredrick Ashton was newly married in any case, and she had no inkling what his complexion might be.

"Or perhaps I will mumble my way through my interview like a dimwit and be sent home again in shame," she fretted. "Though, alas! There is no home for me to return to!"

At which point the carriage hit a pothole and flew thirteen-and-one-half inches into the air before crashing down again. The driver took this opportunity to break his silence with the brief and heartfelt outburst mentioned earlier, but it is not necessary to reprint his exact words. Fortunately, Penelope was unfamiliar with the expression he used and was, therefore, none the worse for hearing it.

However, she took the interruption as a reminder that wallowing in self-pity, even in the privacy of her own mind, was not the Swanburne way. Instead, she cheered herself with the idea that she might soon have three pupils of her own to teach, to mold, and to imbue with the sterling values she felt so fortunate to have acquired at school. If each child came equipped with a pony, so much the better!

And then, abruptly, they were out of the trees and coming over the crest of a hill, passing between great stone pillars that framed a tall and forbidding black iron gate.

Once through the gate, she could finally see before her the house known as Ashton Place.

The coachman was right: Ashton Place was a very grand house indeed. It was perfectly situated in the sheltered lowland ahead and big as a palace, with the lovely symmetrical proportions of the ancient Greek architecture Penelope had so often admired in her history books at Swanburne.

From the hilltop vantage of the gate Penelope could see that the surrounding property numbered not in the hundreds, nor the thousands, but in the tens of thousands of acres-in fact, the forest she had just passed through was part of the estate. There were orchards and farms and groups of other, much smaller houses as well. These were the cottages in which the servants lived, and where the blacksmith, tinsmith, and tanner plied their trades. There was even a smokehouse for the curing of fresh bacon, ham, sausage, and all sorts of meat-based delicacies that would nowadays be purchased in a supermarket, uninterestingly wrapped in plastic.

And Penelope noted with delight: There was a barn big enough to house a whole herd of ponies, with their long, lovingly brushed tails and red ribbons braided prettily through their manes-oh, how Penelope wished the job were already hers! But the interview was still ahead, and she resolved to keep her wits about her.

The driveway approaching the main entrance curved around formal gardens of great beauty, now tinged with the first brushstrokes of autumn color. The coachman brought the carriage straight to the front of the house and assisted his passenger brusquely to the ground. A kind-faced, square-built woman of middle age was waiting to greet the new arrival.

"Miss Lumley, I presume?"

Penelope nodded.

"I'm Mrs. Clarke, the head housekeeper. Thank goodness you've arrived! Lady Constance has been asking for you every quarter hour the whole blessed day. Don't make such a stricken face, dear. You're not late. Lady Constance tends to be impatient, that's all it is. But look at you-you're hardly more than a child yourself! Jasper, see to her bag, please!"

The carpetbag was whisked inside by a young man who appeared from nowhere. As for the trunk of books, which the coachman was struggling to lift-"Leave that in the carriage for now," Mrs. Clarke directed. She jangled the large ring of keys she wore at her waist and gave Penelope an appraising look. "Until we see how things go."

Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I, The EPB. Copyright (c) by Maryrose Wood . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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What People are saying about this

Adam Rex
Every newspaper and website in America is going to tell you that The Mysterious Howling will leave you HOWLING FOR MORE! So I’m not going to say that. But it’s really good.

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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
NaughtyBrent More than 1 year ago
I think I said this a while ago, but I'll repeat: one of my favorite MG-subgenres is historical. There's nothing better than wacky characters in a lush historical setting! It reminds me that while a lot of things have changed (society, technology, etc.) the big things like childhood, human nature, and everything else has not. The cover looked cute, the story sounded great, my Nook Color was sitting on my shelf, empty of a fresh new story, and I just had to download it. And I'm so glad that I did! THE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING starts off with Miss Penelope Lumley, our lovely protagonist that we must first get acquainted with as Miss Penelope Lumley and then later simply Penelope, trekking her way through the European countryside. You see, Penelope Lumley-I mean, Miss Penelope Lumley, as you are not yet acquainted with her-has just graduated the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and is now in search of a possible job. What job? Well, what else might a Poor Bright Female be than a governess to three wolf children? When Miss Penelope Lumley arrives to Ashton Place, she is shocked to see that three children she is to take care of aren't even human children. Or maybe they are. Or maybe they aren't. All she knows is, they have a ferocious growl and the gait of an ill-groomed dog. I seriously ADORE this book! Usually when I love a middle grade so much I call it "cute," but that word doesn't fit. The words "lovely" and "lavish" and "fun" fit. The moments when Miss Lumley Penelope is attempting to train the children, and there are many (oh yes, they so need all the training they can get), were my favorite. Their interactions are laugh-out-loud funny. Here's my inner-publishing intern coming out: The protagonist of THE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING is 15-years-old, yet this book is nowhere near a YA. It never reads as anything but MG, and I'm in awe of Maryrose Wood's talent for keeping the MG voice with YA-aged characters. In the slushpile, I see a lot of these situations that just don't work (the protagonist has a YA voice when the story is supposed to be MG, and vice versa). This is a perfect example of how to master the middle grade voice with hard-to-tackle characters. Really, just go out and get your hands on this book! Maryrose Wood is a marvelous story-teller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When you are being exceptionally rude, your mother will often comment: "Were you raised by wolves?" The Incorrigibles were, and they need a governess. This comes in the form of teenaged Penelope Lumley, an orphan alumni of Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Girls. When Miss Lumley came to the lavish Ashton Place, she thought she would be raising the heirs of Fredrick and Constance Ashton. Instead, she is given three young charges called the Incorrigibles so they cannot be mistaken for Ashtons. However, Fredrick Ashton names the kids Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassieopeia. Of course, when you've been raised by wolves, it is not easy to survive turn of the century high class society. And of course, you'll be eating that quail with ketchup by the gobs while you squeak out "The Wreck of the Hesperus." Miss Lumley seems to keep the children in line, so Lady Constance invites the children to a Christmas ball. Of course, thet must learn to dance and wear sailor suits and frocks. But there's always a catch. A squirrel mysteriously appears at the event, causing a wolf relapse in the kids. Luckily, all is well and the squirrel becomes the beloved nursery pet "Nutsawoo." It is not until the end of the tale that we realize that Miss Lumley has a past of her own that she's eager to discover. For Snicket fans, and fans of the weird, haphazard side of life. Plenty of wisdom lent through the ever present Agatha Swanburne. Please read this and A Snicker of Magic and The Ability. Go save these little gems! All of the small names are worth it to read, and wont let you down. Good story, fine adventuroooooo! ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fabulous book! I cant wait until the fourth one comes out! Maryrose Wood is a great author. I recommend this book for kids ages ten to twelve. Very well done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story has a different style of writing but i really like it. the overall plot is good and it's an enjoyable read. i couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What ages is this for?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All of the above
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great booi
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I got it from my school library and wanted to read instead of learn... but i still listened! It was amazing! I need to get all of the books from barns and noble
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
chbrown21 More than 1 year ago
Not the type of book I usually read but it was cute and kept me involved
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Miss Penelope Lumley has just graduated from Academy, and at age 15 is hired as governess for three children at Ashton Place, a lavish estate in Victorian England. The fact that they are three howling wildlings apparently raised by wolves, dressed in rags and held in the barn, does not deter her from improving their lot and educating them. She sets up a nursery for Alexander, about 10, Beowulf, perhaps 7, and Cassiopeia, about 4 (names selected by the Lord of the manor, who called them the "Incorrigibles" perhaps tongue-in-cheek)and makes amazing progress in their education. Until Lady Constance plans a Christmas dinner party, where Murphy's Law prevails. Who plotted all this mayhem? A mystery is discovered. In fact several mysteries beg to be solved. Who is trying to harm the children? But...... we must read the next book to find out what happens! A fun little read that youngsters will enjoy.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It seem to be a great book i reeccomemd it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome i didnt want to read it but i had to for my BOB(battle of the books) team and it is so good! Slow start but it is totally worth it! Definitley reccomended! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was worth EVERY penny!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was written amazinngly one of the best book I've ever read
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absoulutely loooooooove this book!!!!!!It ends with a cliffhanger so I need the 2nd book but anyway its a great book!Get the book(book-haters too!)
girlandhernook More than 1 year ago
Originally posted at Nose in a Book This is the story of Penelope Lumley, a fifteen year old recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. Penelope is invited to Ashton Place to help the Incorrigibles. Alexander, Cassiopeia, and Beowulf, or the Incorrigibles, were found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place. This fact however does not deter Penelope, she embraces it. She wants to dive right in and teach them how to speak Latin and use a globe; however, the first thing she must teach them to do is to overcome their canine tendencies. This of course is easier said than done after years of the children living in the woods by themselves, but Penelope doesn't mind. She truly is up to the challenge. Things that would faze other nannies, the way they drink, the way they bark is just another bump in the road for her. She takes her time with them and they appreciate it because they slowly become `normal' in the sense that they are proper and can be seen in public by their adoptive parents when they host their upcoming ball. The Incorrigibles take to Penelope, and she takes to them. They are quickly their own little family. This comes in handy when the mystery of the novel takes place. What is also important is many of the mysteries that take place in this novel don't actually get answered in this novel, which makes me glad that this is a series. Also, I am a big believer and fan of audio books. There are two reasons I hit my goodreads goal this year. One: middle grade books and two: audio books. That being said, The Mysterious Howling is a book that needs to be read, not listened to. The illustrations and drawings of this book are almost as important to the book as the story is. Plus, they are adorable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book it was ome of the very best books i have ever read. I think you should read this book . This book left me wanting more so as soon as i finished this book i read the second and am now on the third. The children seem adorable yet distructive. I would recomend this book to everyone who likes mystery books. I love that the athor decided to add in pictures so you know what the characters are supposed to look like. Oh and i want to compliment the athir for her very creative books:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Willa1 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I read it when I was about 8 and loved, read it now four years later and I still love it! It's fun and the kids are funny and adorable. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, it leaves you wanting more. But it is not a terrible cliffhanger, it satisfied me enough but as soon as I put it down I came here and ordered the next two books and pre-ordered the 4th. READ IT IT'S AMAZING!