All Boarding Schools Are Not Alike

I have never attended a boarding school, nor did I ever want to.  I’ve always been introverted, and I don’t think I could have handled having to eat every meal with crowds of people or not having a room to which I could escape.

I was excited to go to college (the first one in my family to go), but I can still remember that my parents helped me unpack and then just drove away and LEFT ME in a strange place hours from home! I panicked on my bunk for an hour or so, and then left my room and met a girl who has been my best friend for over 30 years.

The kids in these stories all end up in their very different boarding schools for different reasons, but they all make great friends and have exciting adventures…and find out more about themselves than they expected.

Scandalous SisterhoodThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry. 9781596439566. 2014. Gr 6-8.

Imagine sitting down to dinner with your six fellow students, sharing a meal with the strict headmistress of your finishing school and her obnoxious brother, and then watching them suddenly drop dead! The first thought of the young girls is to call the police, until the oldest reminds them that if the police are called, the school will be closed, and the girls will be…SENT HOME! If they cover up the deaths, they can run the school as they wish. After all, one of them is not only built a bit like their teacher, she is also a good actress—well, a fairly good actress anyway. So they bury the bodies under a tree. But as the girls think more about the deaths, they realize that their mistress and his brother must have been murdered, probably poisoned, and the killer is still at large.

This is such a fun book—a dark comedy rather than a suspenseful mystery. The girls’ saucy dialogue and their zany ideas, along with the humorous fallout, made me laugh aloud, and the characters are, well, characters! Each one is known not only by her name but also by her primary disgrace, so the book refers to Disgraceful Mary Jane, Dour Elinor, Smooth Kitty, Dull Martha, Pocked Louise, Dear Roberta, and Stout Alice. But the book is not merely fun and games, and the girls grow considerably before the end.

Iron TrialIron Trial (Magisterium, Book 1) by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare. 9780545522250. 2014. Gr 5-8.

In this first book in the Magisterium series, three students attend a magic school; other than that, the characters, circumstances, and intrigues bear few similarities to the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends.

Lonely and disabled, Callum Hunt knows he has the aptitude for magic, but he believes his father’s warnings about the danger that will come if he tries to use it. So when he is selected to be trained at the Magisterium, he does everything he can to resist learning and tries to fail his lessons. But then he finds out why his father really hates magic and the Magisterium, that his father is afraid that Callum might…well, that would be a spoiler. This exciting book has quite a plot twist, and I’m already waiting excitedly for the new book.

Etiquette & EspionageCurtsies & Conspiracies  Waistcoats & WeaponryFinishing School series by Gail Carriger. Gr 7-10.

Sophronia is NOT interested in manners or ladylike behavior, and her family is desperately afraid that their tree-climbing, mechanical-minded daughter will never succeed in society. So when her mother hears that there is an opening in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, she wastes no time in packing Sophronia up and sending her on her way. But from first sight, Sophronia knows this is no ordinary finishing school. For one thing, it is an airship. For another, the curriculum (and the teaching staff) is quite unique. In addition to learning proper dress, dancing, and demeanor, the girls are taught how to spy and kill in many covert—and polite—ways.

This entertaining steampunk story includes robots, vampires, and werewolves as well as fashion, cliques, and a charming protagonist with a thirst for adventure and a flair for solving mysteries. Sophronia might even learn how to do a passable curtsy!

Tracey2Blogger : Tracey L.