I have bookshelves crammed with books.
I’m sure you would never have guessed.
This particular book was lent to me by a lovely librarian friend. I read it. Now I own it. I went right out and bought my own copy because it is a fabulous adventure with a gorgeous main character, all packaged up in a totally beautiful book, from the delightful cover, to the endpapers, the print, the texture and... mmm... smell of the paper, and the magical illustrations by Kelly Canby. There was no denying me, I had to have it!
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone now sits on a little pile of books that don’t actually fit on my bookshelves... but that is okay. There is always room for more books, and this is a book I will read again, and again. It is definitely on my favourites list, and I know that I will join Bronte on her adventure another time.. or two! Who could resist?
Bronte herself tells the story of all the adventures on her travels as she sets out to fulfil the instructions in her parent’s will. As Bronte says:
I was ten years old when my parents were killed by pirates. This did not bother me as much as you might think – I hardly knew my parents.
Now she is bound by faery cross-stitch to deliver gifts to each of her aunts. If she wanders from the very detailed instructions, disaster will strike. Along the way she meets pirates, dragons, water sprites, new friends, and some decidedly unconventional family members. And learns a few tricks, too.
One of the (many) things I do like about this book is the portrayal of the independent spirit of the ten year old Bronte, setting out alone on her really quite epic quest, and how she navigates what could be a dangerous world.
Yes, it couldn’t really happen, but ten year olds actually know that, despite their fantasies (and her aunt does protest).
When I was ten, I enjoyed much greater freedom than children today, crossing a busy town to get from school to my ballet classes, and catching the bus home afterwards (often in the dark, come winter) to our little village outside the town walls. Sometimes, if I dallied too long changing and missed my bus, I would run all the way to the terminal where I wouldn’t have to wait a whole twenty minutes for the next one (now there is an adventure!).
My favourite books in those halcyon days included Swallows and Amazons, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and the Chalet School books... I just loved the idea of going on an adventure. My brother and I would ride our bikes all around the country lanes. I would go blackberrying and tadpoling, wander down woodland paths following iridescent dragonflies, and clamber around the ruins of an ancient abbey. Along with my friends, I would hide in the boughs of a giant oak in a nearby horse paddock, or climb down inside its hollow trunk, where we would tell stories and share sweets.
My ten year old self would have loved Bronte’s extremely inconvenient adventures. A fabulous book, in fact, for anyone who enjoys fantasy, adventure, and a strong and confident main character (child or grown up, although officially for 10 – 14 year olds), The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone is a very appealing story with which to while away some deeply pleasurable hours.
I’m looking forward now to Spindrift, which, I am promised, will take me back to the Kingdoms and Empires of Bronte’s adventure...