Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Little Darlings

But, Bibliovore! You just posted yesterday! Usually there's about a month between posts!

I know. But I've started working at a library, which is something like Kate Moss working at a heroin factory. So hopefully you get a lot more Bibliovore posts from now on. Don't send me grumpy emails if you don't, though.

Book: Little Darlings
Author: Sam Llewellyn
Published: 2004

Poor little Primrose, Daisy, and Cassian. Their father and stepmother spend most of the time going to fancy parties and making money, with not a moment left for raising the children. Dear, dear. But they keep themselves occupied with cookery, devious schemes, machinery, and general mayhem. Oh, and they get wonderful nannies. Nineteen, at last count.

But when the Darling household gets put on the Nanny Blacklist, their papa has no choice but to acquire one from the AAA Aardvark Childminding and Security Agency. This nanny's different. This nanny's smart enough to dodge the initial greeting (three children flying, at speed, from the end of the banister), kind enough to get them all takeout, and larcenous enough to steal all the silver. Oh, and the children. But only by accident. He (yes, he) takes them to the SS Kleptomaniac, manned entirely by inept burglars and a brilliant, beautiful captain on a mission to reassemble the parts of a royal teddy bear.

This promises to be more interesting than lessons, at any rate.

With an arch, satirical, subversive tone that hints of Lemony Snicket and Roald Dahl, Llewellyn weaves a story utterly lacking in gooey sentimentality. Daisy, Primrose, and Cassian would send Mary Poppins screaming for the hills, and that is the source of most of the enjoyment I got from this book. With equal parts deviousness, practicality, and teamwork, the siblings barrel through adventures that would send most literary children under the covers. The plot bounces and spins from one unlikely event to the next with a dark glee in the Darling childrens' capability and resourcefulness in the face of obstacles that have baffled all the adults. While the end has the potential to be a bit syrupy, the author's own wry recognition of that fact leaves you laughing. If I see anything else from Sam Llewellyn, even if it doesn't feature the Darlings, I'll be sure to pick it up.

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