Four L. M. Boston stories that I wish were better known

 I have long wanted to collect Lucy Boston's lesser-known works, but for some reason it took me a long time to realize that I could just look on Abebooks and order them.  A couple of them are practically unobtainable, but I found four at good prices and have been enjoying them.  

If you're unfamiliar with the name, Lucy Boston wrote the classic and strange Green Knowe books, which I love.  She actually lived in the house that she calls Green Knowe in the stories, which is a good 900 years old, and the house inspired much of her writing.  Some years ago when my mom and I took my kids to the UK, we visited the house and it was wonderful.  I highly recommend that you go!

The Guardians of the House: Tom likes to fish by the river, and he's seen the strange old house nearby.  When he sees the owner leave one day, he decides that he must explore.  Tom gets into the house, and finds many strange old items, all of which have faces.  Looking at the head of a goddess, he is transported to a jungle, where he finds the ancient temple and foils the explorer looking to loot it of its treasures.  Then a sculpted Triton's head takes him under the ocean, to a submerged Roman villa, where he plays with Triton.  A donkey's head woven of straw turns into a donkey friend.  All of them are friendly, but firm in their warnings not to take anything.  A fun and creepy adventure for middle grades.

The Fossil Snake: written for a grandson's 9th birthday present, this short book is about Rob, who is helping his dad build a stone wall and finds a fossil snake in a broken stone.  The snake is beautifully coiled and lifelike, and Rob hides it under his radiator, pretending to himself that the warmth will make the snake come alive.  Which it then does!  Rob names it Ra and discovers that Ra likes when he plays on his recorder.  Ra grows larger and larger, and Rob is having a hard time hiding him...

The Castle of Yew is a short one again.  Joseph has always been curious about the strange old house near the river, and he finds an opportunity to meet the elderly lady owner, who gives him permission to explore the garden.  In one of the yew bushes cut like chess pieces, Jo discovers a tiny door, and magically gets in to a 'castle' inside the bush.  Another boy, Robin, is there too and together they play knights and have adventures.  But how to get back to their ordinary size?

The Sea Egg is another middle-grade novel.  Toby and Joe are on a seaside holiday, and they get hold of a beautiful egg-shaped stone.  They deposit it in a secluded tidepool and hope it will hatch -- which it does, into a triton boy who becomes their playmate.  When he isn't off with the seals, that is.  A lovely adventure.

All the stories except The Castle of Yew are illustrated by Boston's son, Peter Boston, who did woodcuts for them.  It's fun to search each picture for his PB symbol/signature, which shows up in odd places.

I'm excited to have been able to get hold of these stories.  I sure wish 'they' would reprint them, but I can see why they haven't; their appeal to current 10-year-olds is probably pretty limited. 


  1. The Fossil Snake was excerpted in Cricket Magazine when I was a kid. That must have been my intro to Lucy Boston; it was only much later that I read the Green Knowe books. Reprints of kids classics of the past are sometimes done more for nostalgic adults I think perhaps there is hope.

    1. How fun! We got Cricket and I read through every issue (esp the Trina Schart Hyman cartoons) but I don't remember any of the stories. I'm impressed by your memory!


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