In the kick-off novel in the Mad Misadventures series, 14-year-old pioneering aviatrix Emmaline Cayley is afraid of one thing: plummeting to her doom. Fortunately, 12-year-old Robert Burns, an indestructible village boy, is not. Absurdly unafraid of bodily harm, ?Rubberbones? is the ideal pilot for Emmaline's experiments with flight.
But before Emmaline can perfect a flying machine with the aid of her new friend, she is sent off to St. Grimelda's School for Young Ladies --- to be cured of her decidedly unladylike ways. It is a school so strict, so severe, so forbidding that it makes the brutal misery in the tales of Charles Dickens look cheery by comparison. With a horrifying headmistress, terrifying teachers and food that is even worse than Aunt Lucy's, this medieval stronghold also houses a terrible secret and a mysterious way of keeping its prisoners, er, its students in line. All Emmaline can think of is escape. But no one has ever escaped from St. Grimelda's. And our heroine soon realizes that the only way out is to face her greatest fear.
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Howard Whitehouse was born in Birmingham, England and now lives in New York State with his wife. Howard has been in a rock band, worked with troubled kids, and written two history books. Now, in addition to writing novels, he writes and designs history games and paints model soldiers. He attended the venerable King Edward VII School, the model for St. Grimelda's.
Bill Slavin is an award-winning children's book illustrator with over 50 books to his credit. His works include Stanley's Party and The Bear on the Bed. He lives in Millbrook, Ontario.
Grade 5-8–Emmaline Cayley grew up in India, but as she approaches the age of 14, her very proper mother (who is married to a very proper British colonial official) sends her home to England to attend the harsh St. Grimelda's School for Young Ladies. Emmaline is not interested in becoming a young lady–she wants to follow in the footsteps of her great-great-uncle, Sir George Cayley, and design flying machines. In the weeks before school starts, she teams up with Rab, a 12-year-old village boy whom everyone calls Rubberbones because he can fall out of a tree or get hit by a brick and suffer no damage, and the two of them build several gliders. Once Emmaline goes off to St. Grimelda's, her potty Aunt Lucy, Rubberbones, and their allies realize what a horror the place is and initiate an elaborate plot to help her escape on a giant, smuggled-in, homemade kite. This comic tale of a slightly alternative Victorian England is goofy and fun. It loses some of its impact, however, because the school–which uses the fearsome pterodactyls it has owned since the 16th century to catch any girls who try to escape–is built up as a horror. But its pompous, ruler-wielding headmistress and teachers don't seem to frighten Emmaline and her friends much, so they won't scare readers, either. Slavin's intricate pen-and-ink drawings are properly atmospheric. A sequel is virtually guaranteed. –Walter Minkel, New York Public Library
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Book Description Kids Can Press, 2006. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P111553378822