Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The River at Green Knowe

by L. M. Boston
Finished reading September 15, 2009

This is the third book in the Green Knowe series.

Grandmother Oldknowe and Tolly are absent. Perhaps they went to Cornwall, as was mentioned at the end of Treasure of Green Knowe.

The protagonists of this book are Ping, Oskar and Ida. Dr. Maud Biggin and her old friend, Miss Sybilla Bun, have rented Green Knowe. They invite Dr. Biggin's great niece (Ida) and two refugees from the Society for the Promotion of Summer Holidays for Displaced Children (S.P.S.H.D.C) to spend the summer with them.

Interestingly enough, the two women leave the children to their own devices as Dr. Biggins is too busy writing a book called A Reconstruction of the Habits and the Diet of the Ogru: A Summary of Recent Discoveries. Apparently, ogru are giants. Sybilla thinks only of cooking. Thus, the children are able to leave the house at any time of day or night to explore the river and it's many islands near Green Knowe.

The Children of Green Knowe involved ghosts of past inhabitants. Treasure of Green Knowe seemed to have a time travel element. Rivers introduces an even more fantastical theme of magical creatures, including winged horses and giants. There is one kind of frightening scene that brings back the time travel element when Ping, Oskar and Ida witness a pagan moon dance or celebration.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It's obvious why the series has been revived over the past several years. Thanks to the popularity of Harry Potter classic fantasies like the Green Knowe series as well as books by E. Nesibt, George MacDonald, Edward Eager and the more recent Susan Cooper series have been given new life. By design the cover art of these new editions of "The Green Knowe Chronicles" by Bret Helquist connect this series to others such as The Spiderwick Chronicles, Chasing Vermeer and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

So far, each of the three books has had a different flavor. The first was a dreamy ghost story. The second was almost a historical novel with a very few fantasy elements. This was an adventure fantasy. I can't wait to read the next.

One of the most interesting things about this book was the abrupt ending. It was startling, but carried out Boston's theme of the imagination of children and the inability of adults to see past their own assumptions.

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