All right. Another instance of getting sidetracked from Grandfather’s plan by something random, stumbling into a mystery–that may or may not be one–, another old woman that just wants to be left alone–but not from these children–and more of showing off just how rich they are without realizing it. Oh these books.
Basically, they go to a very poor little island, end up buying supplies and teaching the local kids (since the Aldens know everything, much more than those poor islands), and mess up a man that everyone loved because he was buying local coins and old things for crazy rates.
Let’s talk about that for a minute:
Henry said, “Freddy is clever. So far he hasn’t done anything that is against the law. The people here think he pays enough. They are delighted to trade.
That’s … actually a really good point. Ignoring the library books and things he did outside of the story (convenient that) for the moment, what he was doing was ethically perfect, but … was it even that wrong? If he had told them, I bet many of the islands would have gone for his trades anyways. Where else are they going to find people to buy their stuff? And what kid wouldn’t rather a new shiny doll to a broken old one. But no, to the Aldens, it really is all about the monetary value of things. Oy.
“Yes. The Alden kids did this. They did their duty as American citizens.”
Also, Mr. Carter. Shows up in disguise for some reason? As if anyone would know him. And his disguise. The most hilarious fake English this side of Mary Poppins…
“Right,” said Mr. Wilder-Smith. “I have important letters. Maybe you can help. But I must toddle along. Cheerio! Top-hole to meet you.”
Oh… come one.
A few other random notes:
“Oh, boy!” shouted Benny. “We could sleep in the car! That’s what this station wagon is made for.”
I find this hard to imagine for four children and their grandfather. Fun, maybe something I’d do, but man that wouldn’t be a good night’s sleep.
And at the end:
“We won’t say goodbye,” said Benny. “We hate to say goodbye. We never do, we just go.”
Since… just the Mountain Top Mystery, no? And now I bet that’s how they end every book. Gertrude Chandler Warner is really getting into a formula here. I guess that’s how they made hundreds of the things.
Overall, it’s a vaguely interesting idea, but cringey execution. Let’s see what they do next…