Friday, October 18, 2013

October Reading Assignment #2 The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House by Mary Chase

  My second scary suggestion for the month of October is The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House, by Mary Chase. When I was thinking about writing the review for this post, I realized I had already sort of written one, in my description for the extra copy we're selling on Ebay.

   This book has always been one of my favourites and the kids loved it too. (Except Ivy. She doesn't like anything creepier than The Ghost of Dibble Hollow.) It makes a great scary read for Halloween. Not horrifying, but chills up your back scary and somewhat mystical and with great heart. Maureen,a girl known for her bad temper, lies, and fighting, wishes and pretends to be one of the Messerman's, a rich family which lived in a huge old house, now deserted and ruined.One afternoon, trying to escape an angry neighbor, she slips into the garden of the old house. She comes across what she thinks at first is a garden gnome. But then he speaks to her. He's a leprechaun, and he knows the story of the house and it's inhabitants. But he unexpectedly disappears. The next day Maureen again finds herself inside the grounds. When she and a group of neighborhood kids enter the house, Maureen the liar is determined to impress them. She's not afraid.The upstairs hall is full of paintings of ladies in beautiful dresses. Maureen insults all the pictures but one, but then she notices something. Have the ladies in the paintings...moved? When Maureen finds a strange bracelet like the ones worn by the ladies in the paintings she takes it home. That night she finds herself being watched by a strange lady in old fashioned clothes who demands her bracelet. Frightened, Maureen decides to return the bracelet the next morning. But she forgets. Walking home in the pouring rain she suddenly comes across a scene straight out of the past and finds her own home no longer exists. She is stuck in the past and must find a way to get herself back. There's a sad story tucked in there too, a life lesson,and of course the  magical leprechaun in the garden.Longing to return to her own time and home, Maureen learns to appreciate her family and her life.
  The original title was The Wicked Pigeon Ladies in the Garden. (Good thing they changed it!Not that the other title is much better!), and the author, Mary Chase is more famous for having written (and winning a Pulitzer Prize for) the play "Harvey", and cowriting the screen play for the movie starring Jimmy Stewart.I always thought  "Wicked Ladies..." would make a great movie. I could see Disney making it in the early 70's. And Jodie Foster would have played Maureen!
  I'm not sure if the book is still in print, although it was reprinted in 2003. (It was originally published in 1967.)This one isn't expensive second hand though, and it's totally worth the search. It's sold occasionally online. In fact, as I said, I'm listing ours on Ebay as soon as I finish this post.
  Age recommendation is 7 to 10 years, but it might be a little too scary for 7 year olds.(You know your child, so be the judge.)I think 11 to 12 year olds could still enjoy it. 
  Mystery,time travel, magic, and a spooky story. What more could you want?! 

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