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Tolly has been at boarding-school while his parents are in Burma, and he longs for a place to call home. When his great-grandmother invites him to stay with her during Christmas vacation he goes to Green Noah, the estate which has belonged to his family for more than 400 years. In a portrait above the fireplace he sees three children, and soon he hears their laughter and sees their footprints in the snow. His great-grandmother tells him stories of their adventures, and past and present flow together. This is a story filled with warmth and magic.
Tolly and Ping are both at Green Knowe again, together for the first time. Tolly's great-grandmother, Mrs. Oldknow, tells them the story of Wolfgang Vogel, an alchemist who lived in the house in 1630. According to the story, all of his books had been burned in a great bonfire. But perhaps at least one has survived - for a strange woman named Melanie Powers is intent upon searching the house to find it. Melanie uses her dark magic in a series of strategies to drive Mrs. Oldknow and the boys from the house and lay her hands on its hidden treasures.
While Mrs. Oldknow is away, two maiden ladies are living at Green Knowe. They invite three children - two war rrefugees and one English girl - to spend the summer holidays. The children have a series of adventures as they explore the river near Green Knowe, meeting a hermit, seeing winged horses, and witnessing an ancient ritual. The grown-ups are oblivious to the new realities the children reveal.
In twelfth-century England, 11-year-old Roger D'Aulneaux proudly watches the construction of his family's new manor house. On the grounds he discovers a pair of tiny stone chairs which enable him to travel through time. By traveling forward he sees how the house will evolve over the centuries, and meets some of the children who will know and love it in the future. Roger must face the inevitability of change and accept that nothing can last forever.
Ping, a Chinese refugee, is captivated by Hanno, a gorilla from the Congo, when he sees him in the London Zoo. He is awed by the gorilla's power and dignity, and senses that he, too, has been displaced from his homeland. Later Hanno escapes and finds shelter in a dense thicket at Green Knowe, where Ping is spending the summer. This is a powerful story that can open interesting discussions on ethical issues. It is fourth in the Green Knowe series, following The River at Green Knowe and preceding An Enemy at Green Knowe.
In this sequel to The Children of Green Knowe, nine-year-old Tolly returns to spend another vacation with his great-grandmother. This time she tells him stories about Susan, a blind girl who grew up at Green Knowe some 150 years before. Susan's mother, grandmother, and older brother treat her with a suffocating blend of pity, contempt, and overprotectiveness. Her father, however, has faith in her abilities and is determined to give her opportunities to learn and grow. On a voyage to Barbadoes he buys a lively young slave boy, Jacob, to be Susan's companion. Both children are mischievous and adventurous, and Susan blossoms as their friendship develops. This book was originally published in 1958. For its time it provides a remarkably realistic and sensitive portrait of a blind child living in the days before Braille, mlbility, or schools for the blind.
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