PEPPERMINTS IN THE PARLOR by Barbara Brooks Wallace


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Sara Crew had it easy compared to our little princess Emily Luccock--who, after her parents' sudden death, arrives in San Francisco expecting to be enveloped by solicitous, rich Aunt and Uncle Twice (on both sides of her family) only to find Sugar Hill Hall now in the hands of tyrannical Mrs. Meechling and docile Mrs. Plumly; Aunt Twice their trembling servant; old folks sitting around like shadows; and she, Emily, consigned to scrubbing and cleaning with fellow-""orphing"" Tilly. Whatever happened to Uncle Twice and the family fortune is the least of it! The worst of it, first off, is the bowl of peppermints Mrs. M. keeps in the parlor to torment the oldsters: if they take one--as a change from their diet of watery gruel and moldy bread--they're imprisoned in the dank cellar ""Remembrance Room."" To revive their spirits Emily dispenses some of fishmonger's-boy Kipper's restorative fish syrup and then shares a kitten Kipper has brought. But suddenly Mrs. M. discovers all--and it's curtains for the kitten, into the Remembrance Room for Emily, and back to a cheerless fadeout for the old folks. Who could have known? And told? The finale--involving a hideous sea captain straight out of Treasure Island--is as spectacular a reversal as you'd expect, given the depths of the malice and the misery. The book will keep kids on the edge of their seats, but without quite tugging at their hearts the way The Little Princess does--because solving the mystery, one always knows, will solve all.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1980
ISBN: 0689874170
Publisher: Atheneum