Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Tale of the Holly How by Susan Wittig Albert

The Tale of the Holly How is the second cozy in the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, a sweet little mystery series combining the life of Beatrix Potter with the lives of the little animals in the sleepy little village of Sawrey. Well, maybe not too sleepy as the story opens up the Beatrix discovering the suspicious death of an old crotchety shepherd, Ben Hornby. His ill favored year started out with cows dying, a barn burning and finally his death. But as one member of the community departs, another is introduced. A new little girl has come to town. An orphan from New Zealand come to live with her cold haughty grandmother is plagued by rumors that she is an unruly child. To Beatrix, she is reminded of her own silent rigidly proper upbringing and is compelled to reach out to help only to find nefarious dealings going on in Tidmarsh Manor.
As Beatrix puzzles out the clues left at the scene, the animals are dealing with problems of their own. A badger family has disappeared and the word in the pasture is a badger baiting contest is soon to be held. The illegal human sport known as badger baiting (similar to illegal dog fighting) was outlawed in 1835 but still goes on. The woodland and domestic creatures find out and do their bit to fight back against the cruel members of the human race.
Wittig takes the bit of fantasy with animals and incorporates more into this second go around. More with the wilder creatures out in the field are described as she introduces Bosworth Badger XVII and his Brockery, a small hostel for other traveling creatures. It was definitely a cute quick read. BTW “how” is actually another name for “hill.”

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