HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Turret
Author: Margery Sharp
Illustrator: Garth Williams
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, republished in 2007
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Sharp, Margery. The Turret (published in 1963 by Little, Brown and Company, Boston, MA). The Turret is the third book in the series of children’s novels which began with The Rescuers (1959). In the first book, which I have read, the mice have created the widely respected Mouse Prisoners’ Aid Society whose task is to befriend human prisoners in their cells and perform daring rescue bids. The famous Miss Bianca and her friend Bernard rescue a Norwegian poet who is being held in grim conditions at the Black Castle and guarded by Mamelouk, the vicious cat of the Head Jailer. In the first sequel, Miss Bianca (1962), which I have not read, an orphan girl named Patience is held prisoner and enslaved by the Diamond Duchess and her steward Mandrake at the Diamond Palace.
In The Turret, Miss Bianca steps down as Madam Chairwoman of the mice’s Prisoner’s Aid Society, but while at her going-away picnic at a lily-covered lake in a park with a large turret she learns that Mandrake, having fallen out of favor with his former mistress, is imprisoned in the turret. The Society refuses to act and Bernard doesn’t want to help, so she keeps everything a secret from him while he deals with all the complaints about the new Madam Chairwoman who is a former games-mistress bent on turning the Prisoner’s Aid Society into an exercise club, and she teams up with a young mouse boy scout named Shaun to rescue Mandrake. Since he loves gardening, she even manages to secure him a job as caretaker of the grounds at an orphanage. Can they get past the Countess’s groom-guards George and Jack? How will the famous race horse Sir Hector help? And will Mandrake reform as he promises?
This is a very interesting and readable story for children. The only questionable items are references to dancing, wagering on horse races, and serving beer at a meeting. Clara Margery Melita Sharp (1915-1991) was born in the district of Salisbury in the county of Wiltshire, England, although her family originated from northern Yorkshire, and spent part of her childhood in Malta. In 1938 she married Major Geoffrey Castle, an aeronautical engineer. A prolific writer, in her long career she produced 26 novels for adults, fourteen stories for children, four plays, two mysteries, and numerous short stories. The subsequent books in the series about the Rescuers are Miss Bianca in the Salt Mines (1966), Miss Bianca in the Orient (1970), Miss Bianca in the Antarctic (1971), Miss Bianca and the Bridesmaid (1972), Bernard the Brave (1977), and Bernard into Battle (1978).