by Helen Cresswell
The Bagthorpe bunch is at it again!! In the fifth book of the Bagthorpe saga, those zany, loony characters and their madcap exploits deliver enough laugns to fill a Bag(thorpes). For those of you unfamiliar with this eccentric enclave, the family consists of Mr. and Mrs. Bagthorpe, four children, and Grandma and Grandpa. In this very British family, each member is wholly devoted to their own special talents and gifts, which are referred to as "strings to their bow." As one might imagine, these gigantic egos do tend to clash and cause interpersonal conflict (or, as the politically correct would describe it, [they are] relationship-challenged). Mrs. Fosdyke, the "daily help" at the Bagthorpe home, describes the family quite succinctly to her friends down at the local pub: "The goins on at that house is unbelievable. Mad as hatters, the lot of them." Mr. Bagthorpe is the main thorn in her side. Their perpetual feud is carred out by Mrs. Fosdyke's noisy and relentless vacuuming outside Mr. Bagthorpe's study. For Mr. Bagthorpe, who writes scripts for television and considers himself to be sensitive and creative, this is too much to bear. "There are no other carpets in England that have to take the kind of stressing she gives mine with that everlasting Hoover. Hedgehogging about from morning till night, sucking up invisible fluff and destroying the vibrations in my study." Sounds as if a vacation is in order?
Sure enough, Mr. Bagthorpe arranges a 6-week family vacation in a very old, haunted house in Wales. Here he will be able to do firsthand research on ghosts, the subject of his next television script. The rest of the Bagthorpes are stunned to hear the news that they are going "abroad" to Wales. They well knew "Mr. Bagthorpe did not care for 'abroad'...he dismissed the entire world outside his own native country as if it were the lowest circle of Dante's Hell. He did not care for everlasting sunshine, believing it to be weakening for the character. He had no wish to lie on a beach all day oiled like a sardine and with approximately as much turning space." Ghostly research is the least of their worries when they arrive in Wales. The very old house is also very dilapidated. This is most distressing to the entire family because one must have the modern conveniences when one is giving one's total energy and complete focus to their individual pursuits. Great minds simply cannot be expected to worry about everyday, boring tasks. To make matters worse, Uncle Parker, Aunt Celia and cousin Daisy are vacationing in the same area and their accomodation is a very well-appointed castle down the road. While this is definitely salt rubbed in the wound, the most frightening aspect is the dreaded presence of cousin Daisy. This 5-year-old is a walking disaster area as she calmly leaves every household she visits in utter chaos and ruin. Not to mention her pet goat, Billy Goat Gruff, who is allowed to roam freely, and does other things freely since he is not house-broken. As you can tell, the stage is set for a calamity of truly Bagthorpian proportions. I won't spoil it, but I will give a few hints -- a hungry goat, police cars, butane cylinder and "driving couins Daisy"!! -- recommended by Evelyn D. - Bennett Martin Public Library/Technical Processes
Have you read this one? What did you think?