Sunday, September 11, 2016

Oddfellow's orphanage by Emily Winfield Martin

If you need action and adventure, mystery and mayhem this might not be the book for you but if you need a gentle story of kindness and delicious food with sweet illustrations then this book will be perfect.

There are fourteen chapters in Oddfellow's Orphanage and as the story opens a new resident is set to arrive.  Her name is Delia.  "She didn't speak, but fished a yellow pencil and a scrap of paper from her pocket." Delia has arrived in the middle of the night.  She has been bought to the school by the headmaster Oddfellow Bluebeard and a teacher called Professor Stella in a carriage drawn by bears.  Oddfellow Bluebeard is a distant and opposite relation to the original Bluebeard of fairytale fame.  "He spends his days reading in his study, or minding his honeybees, or sewing beautiful suits the way his mother, a dressmaker, taught him."

We never learn why Delia cannot speak but she seems to settle in to her new home very quickly. I mentioned kindness,  On her first day at Oddfellow's orphanage Professor Stella gives Delia a "pocket sized red notebook on a long loop of string ... She turned to the first page of the notebook and wrote on it Thank You." Each chapter focuses on a different student from this wonderful school/orphanage.  Each chapter is also a celebration of some event or lesson over the year such as a field trip to find the Great Green Lake Monster, a summer picnic, a visit to the circus and Christmas.

My favourite part is the food!  Here are some samples :

"Breakfast was little stacks of pancakes that the cooks had made into different shapes, hearts, stars and tiny rabbits."

"Bunches of little sandwiches were heaped in baskets lined with red-and-white-checked fabric. Pies filled with apple, cherry, blackberry and strawberry lined the tables ... Sparkling pitchers sat filled to the brim with fizzy lemonade and sweet iced tea."

You can see some of the characters here and yes one is a hedgehog.

There is a web site for Oddfellow Orphanage.

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