Thursday, January 15, 2015

Patchwork of the Crosses

The holidays gave me a little time to catch up on my reading, so I was able to read the fourth book in the Green Knowe series by Lucy Boston, "A Stranger At Green Knowe."  It was very different from the other books in the series with a very unusual start.

In this book, the Chinese refugee boy from the last book, Ping, returns to Green Knowe to stay with Mrs. Oldknow. During a visit to a zoo in London prior to his arrival, he was fascinated by the giant gorilla, Hanno... as a refugee living in an orphanage, he seemed to develop a special sad bond with the caged animal.  When Hanno escaped from the zoo and made his way to Green Knowe, Ping secretly befriended him.  Obviously, England doesn't have a lot of gorilla hangouts, so the thickets and overgrown gardens at Green Knowe were an obvious hiding place for the gorilla and the story develops around Ping's efforts to keep the gorilla free while trying to keep him fed.  The early chapters of the book detail Hanno's life as a young gorilla in Africa and the trauma and cruelty of his capture.  It's a very odd and different start from the rest of the books, but is handled very compassionately. 
The book struck me as a very personal statement and almost a comparison by Lucy Boston about the tragedy of life in a zoo for animals and life in an orphanage for children. I found it to be a great book - fun in some ways, very thought provoking, and sad, as well.
The book was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 1961, and  has been considered by some as the greatest animal story in English children's literature.                                                                                                                                     
Have any of you been reading this series of books?  I'm able to find the entire series in my library, but the books are also available at a reasonable price on Amazon.  Let me know how you like them!

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