As someone who reads any book about cats that she comes across, whether fiction or non-fiction, for children or for adults, there are some that are extra special and Princess Puffybottom – And Darryl by Susin Nielsen is one of them. The story is about a cat who is Princess of her domain but is dismayed by the addition of a puppy to her kingdom. The puppy is messy and uncouth but worst of all he takes attention away from the Princess. Princess Puffybottom knows that this intruder needs to be banished somewhere far faraway. She tries everything to do that including hypnosis, trickery and sabotage but nothing works – it looks like Darryl is there to stay. Princess Puffybottom is sad but no one even notices – except Darryl. Slowly the Princess learns that Darryl has some redeeming features. He worships her, puts her on a pedestal (literally!) and even helps her get extra food. Princess Puffybottom comes to understand that there is room for both a Princess and a companion in her kingdom and life is good again. But what is that, that her human subjects are bringing home on the last page?
After reading and enjoying Karen McManus’s first book One Of Us Is Lying I was looking forward to reading her second Two Can Keep A Secret and I wasn’t disappointed. I read it straight through in two days because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. Like her first book this one contains a murder mystery, this time in a town full of secrets. Ellery and her twin brother Ezra move to the small town of Echo Ridge to live with a grandmother they hardly know after their mother goes to rehab. A town where their aunt disappeared many years ago at the age of seventeen and where a former homecoming queen was murdered five years ago.
As someone who loves reading historical fiction and is fascinated by the Dionne Quintuplets (the first identical quintuplets to survive babyhood) I had to read this fictional story, The Quintland Sisters, about them as told by midwife in training Emma who is there when they are born and then spends several years with them as their nurse. Emma thus has an inside look at the feud between the Dionne parents and the Quintuplet’s doctor and guardian Dr. Dafoe. As the years go by she is torn between loving the little girls as individuals and the circus surrounding them as they are put on display for visitors to gawk at. As Emma grows both emotionally and mentally she slowly comes to realize the part she plays in their exploitation, the same kind of exploitation that the Quintuplets were taken away from their parents in the first place to avoid. The exploitation that would change the lives of the Quintuplets for the worse as they and their parents and other siblings would never be able to bridge the gap left from those years of separation. Even though I already knew the story of the Dionne Quintuplets from biographies (like The Dionnes by Ellie Tesher and The Dionne Years: A Thirties Melodrama by Pierre Berton) and their autobiographies it was fascinating to read a fictionalized version of their story which is as much about Emma’s journey in life as it is about the Quintuplets.
See also this post: The Dionnes by Ellie Tescher.