Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance

Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance

by Marthe Jocelyn


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Winner of the 2005 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award

It is 1901 and Mable Riley dreams of adventure and of becoming a writer. When her older sister leaves home to become a schoolmistress in the small town of Stratford, Ontario, Mable is sent along too. Mable hopes her new world will be full of peril and romance. But life at the Goodhand Farm (where the sisters board), is as humdrum as the one she’s left behind.

Then Mable encounters the mysterious Mrs. Rattle, a peculiar widow with a taste for upsetting the townspeople with her strange opinions. Mrs. Rattle is a real writer, and Mable eagerly accepts her invitation to a meeting of the Ladies Reading Society. But the ladies are not discussing books at all, and Mable may soon have more peril than she’d bargained for!

Composed of the letters Mable sends home, the poems she writes for her classmates, and chapters from her own work-in-progress, Mable Riley is the funny, inspiring, (and reliable) record of a young girl finding her voice, and the courage to make it heard.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763621209
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 02/28/2004
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.25(h) x 0.98(d)
Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Marthe Jocelyn is the author-illustrator of three picture books and author of several novels, including the acclaimed EARTHLY ASTONISHMENTS as well as THE INVISIBLE DAY, THE INVISIBLE HARRY, and THE INVISIBLE ENEMY, all illustrated by Abby Carter. Of the inspiration for this book she says, "I found my grandmother’s journals, written more than 100 years ago. Hidden on the back pages were her terrible efforts at poetry. My grandmother was more like the pious sister, Viola, than my witty and undaunted heroine, but I am ever grateful for her need to record the particulars of collar-ironing and the selection of hair ribbons." Marthe Jocelyn lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.

Read an Excerpt

After the tea but before the supper . . .

Perhaps it takes only a little determination to change the course of one’s life, for here on this very page I declared my yearning for novelty and already have I tripped across it! It came about in this manner: I went to the kitchen earlier, to borrow a needle from Mrs. Goodhand, as mine had jumped into a crack in the ?oor and hidden there. I heard Elizabeth’s cross voice as I entered, and thought at once to leave, but was seen already and could not depart naturally.

"Why must I go?" she complained. "I came only to fetch the soap for my mother. Mrs. Rattle is so peculiar! She speaks recklessly, as if to test me, and she’s never grateful in the least for our donations."

"We are being good neighbours," said Mrs. Goodhand, reproving her niece. "I have baked the loaves and they await delivery."

"Why need it be me?" asked Elizabeth as she noticed me in the doorway. "As long as the bread is delivered, why should Mable not be the do-gooder today?"

I was instantly of two minds. I had no wish to perform a task that Elizabeth found distasteful, but I could hear my mother’s voice imploring me to "be always quick in doing what is right for others."

"Is there an errand you would have done, Mrs. Goodhand?" I asked, ignoring Elizabeth’s smirk of satisfaction. Mrs. Goodhand sighed and wiped her hands upon her apron front.

"There is, Mable, though I do not approve of Elizabeth’s reluctance." She explained there is a widow lady of little means, living a mile off toward the town. Mrs. Goodhand makes to her a gift of corn bread every Sunday, though the other women of the church are not so openhanded.

"Because she’s mad," said Elizabeth. "Perfectly loony. And she does not go to church."

"Not mad, I think," said Mrs. Goodhand. "But nor is she wholesome."

I felt a shiver climb my spine.

"There is nothing to fear." Mrs. Goodhand saw me flinch and patted my arm. "She will not eat you. That is why you are bringing bread." She used one of her few smiles and sent me to fetch my shawl. I took the bundle and went the way I was pointed, wondering at whom I should find. I expected a withered crone crouching behind brambles, waving a hawthorn cane and muttering dreadful maledictions.

Think, then, of my surprise when the door of a cottage called Silver Lining was opened by a woman only a few years older than Viola, perhaps five and twenty. She wore a most extraordinary ensemble — her skirt coming only to her knees, with wide trousers underneath, gathered tight at the ankles. She wore slippers on her feet coloured the deepest red, as though she’d been wading in blood. She looked like the illustration of a Persian genie in a book, and not at all like a widow lady in a farm cottage in Ontario. It was her dark hair, unconfined and hanging loose about her face, that made me recollect the bicycle rider we had passed on our first night in Sellerton. This must be she!

"Did you think you were arriving at an exhibit, my dear?" she asked, raising one eyebrow high. "Or have you some purpose here other than to stare?"

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Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When her sister Viola takes a position as a school teacher in a distant Ontario County, thirteen-year-old Mabel Riley goes along to help with the younger students. Living with the Goodhand family, and feeling somewhat estranged from her suddenly adult-acting sister, Mabel dreams of growing up to be a writer and traveling the world. She's fascinated by the scandalous, possibly widowed Mrs. Rattle, who wears bloomers, rides a bicycle, and has "indecent" opinions. Set in a time when the woman's rights movement was just getting underway, telephones were regarded with suspicion, marriage ended a woman's career, and divorce was a shame and a scandal, Mabel has a difficult time with her desire to be something more than a wife and a mother. Mabel is an entertaining character, and the Canadian setting makes a refreshing change.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thnx! I am in a tough spot. He is the only guy who has ever looked at me the way he does. And he is my best friend! Its gonna be a long hard year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like this girl and my friend told her that i like her but she was dating someone at the time and hasnt said anything since but they broke up a day after my friend told her she still hasnt said anything or talked to me we were really good friends but now she kind of walks past me like im nothing and also shes kind of like a girl version of a player she gets guys then dumps them but shes also really nice so i dont know if i should ask her out
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The thing is, him and l are besties. I have said hi, and l am just not sure if l want to ask him out as this may ruin our... friendsjip.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good Luck!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved how detailed Jocelyn wrote the 'diary.' The first few pages were not so good but then I found myself attached to it . I could not put it down !!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great coming of age story that happens during the begininnig of the women's movement during the early 1900's in Canada. Mable learns many things during this year of her life. Most importantly, she learns to think and act for herself. Very impressive book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wished I had Mable for a daughter. Her integrity would make any woman or mother proud.This historical fiction book, written in a diary format, is charming, funny and a wonderful realistic account of a young girl who is coming of age, understanding the difficulties during the sufferget period, and how she processes it for herself.