by Joan Aiken
I love this book. I can’t really explain why. Maybe because Mom read it to me when I was a little girl, and even though I didn’t understand all of it, something about the cold and the dark and desperate wolves, about Bonnie’s optimism and Sylvia’s sweetness, Simon’s resourcefulness and Miss Slighcarp’s evilness–somehow, it stuck with me. I’ve read this book almost every year for as long as I can remember. It’s one of my personal classics.
The story is a bit of a stretch, I’ll admit. Definitely not historical fiction by any means. Aiken actually writes of a sort of alternate-universe England (hence the slavering wolves), but it makes an excellent story, and has the added benefit of gently reminding the reader that she doesn’t have to make everything “just so.” I really love the characters of this book. The story moves quickly. I love children’s stories, where the good are good and the bad are bad and this book draws those lines distinctly. The dark and wintry background adds to sense of urgency and fear.