We are currently in the midst of Arabel’s Raven as our evening read aloud story.  Joan Aiken is an author that I’ve only recently discovered, much to my chagrin.  Honestly, this book might be one of the best new old books I’ve read in years.  I liked it so much that I went back and read the parts the husband read to the kids when he did bedtime, which is something I almost never do (mostly because it’s often a book I’ve already read).

The story is about a girl who acquires a pet raven.  The raven, whose name is Mortimer, knows only one word, which is apparently the only word ravens ever know: Nevermore.  Mortimer causes no end of trouble around the house.  For one thing, he eats unexpected objects, like stairs, and likes to put spaghetti in strange places, like your pockets.  He also makes what sounds like an enormous mess everywhere all the time.  However, Arabel and Mortimer have a special relationship with the sort of love and deep understanding that can exist between ravens and girls in children’s books.  So Arabel’s parents put up with Mortimer with amazing good humor.  The story has a very Roald Dahl feeling in places because of the absurd and silly situations portrayed.  However, the parents are so loving and most of the adults are so well-meaning that you know it can’t be a Roald Dahl book, though those Quentin Blake illustrations certainly invite the comparison, don’t they?

Suffice it to say that this made a perfect read aloud for us.  Humor is such an essential element in books and this one is one of the funniest we’ve read in awhile.

3 thoughts on “Nevermore!

  1. When the boys are a bit older, the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series is fantastic…I actually have a spare copy of the first book sitting in my hallway right now, shame you are on another contintent or you could have it!

  2. Hi, I was delighted to see your piece about Joan Aiken, she was my Mum, and I have made a website about her life and books at where there’s a whole section about Arabel and Mortimer that your family might enjoy.
    Also I thought you would be interested to know that she was a homeschooled child until age 12, and said that this what made her into a writer- brought up on books and with a great reading aloud Mum (as she was to me!). Here’s a link to another piece about her.
    Good luck with your own homeschooling, and I hope you discover lots more Aiken books to enjoy from the website. Best wishes, Lizza Aiken

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