The Tale of Holly How

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In this second novel in a planned eight-book series called The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, the renowned creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and numerous other children's classics is having her house remodeled at her recently purchased Hill Top Farm. But Beatrix soon is involved with several local events, including murder, the fate of an orphaned girl, and the welfare of the native animals which she dearly loves.

While on a short trip to buy some sheep for her farm, Beatrix and a friend discover the body of the shepherd, Ben Hornsby, at the bottom of a cliff. It is Beatrix who notices a detail that suggests it was not merely an accident. Beatrix also applies her sleuthing skills to solve the puzzle of why a wealthy dowager is insisting that an unknown man be appointed headmaster of the local school. And why is the rich woman's granddaughter, Caroline, being mistreated in the manor house?

When Beatrix learns that the native badgers are being hunted to use in illegal fights with dogs, she initiates swift action. It is this case, in fact, that forms the climax of the novel. The local animals provide much of the interest and fun. They talk with each other and often know the answers to the various mysteries before the humans do, and they sadly regret the fact that the humans cannot understand what they are trying to tell them.

Susan Wittig Albert, known for her best-selling China Bayles Herbal Mysteries for adults, is the author of over sixty books for children. The Tale of Holly How and this charming series featuring Beatrix Potter should be entertaining for readers ten years old through adults of any age.