Coville, Katherine Cottage in the Woods, 400 p. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015. $16.99. Language: G (2 swears); Mature Content: PG (drinking); Violence: PG (fight scene with blood; two characters jump off cliff and die).
Miss Ursula Brown, a proper young bear just out of school, is hired as a governess to young Teddy Vaughn. The Cottage in the Woods is full of “secrets” as items disappear during the night and portraits watch you as you walk the hallways. As Miss Brown continues her time at the Vaughn Estate, she becomes involved with the Enchanted Animals’ fight for peace and equality between the “Enchanteds” and humans. Mrs. Vaughn eventually tells Miss Brown about the moment they find “Goldilocks” sleeping in Teddy’s bed upon their return from a walk. “Goldilocks” is a starved, filthy, savage blonde human, who is taken in by the family for love and nurturing. When the community finds out about the human girl living with the bear family, they demand a court decision. Miss Brown and Teddy must make adult decisions to protect their dear friend, “Goldilocks”, and the community must come together to save the children and the greater good.
This clever fractured fairy tale novel weaves several other fairy tales and nursery rhymes creating a fun story. It had all the “right” components of a “good” book: adventure, drama, romance, social justice, yet was incredibly wordy and had an overuse of sophisticated vocabulary. I’m not really sure which age group for which this book was written. The length of the book and vocabulary made it too old for elementary aged students and the cover was too juvenile for high school students.
MS – OPTIONAL. SL, librarian