I've read this favorite many times as a child, and even today it still gives me a thrill, mostly as it evokes the wonder and enjoyment I felt reading it for the first time. I finally read it to the kids and while Ian didn't seem to appreciate it much (he said he found it scary when Bonnie was locked in the cupboard), Mara loved it as much as I hoped she would. This is the story of two little 19th century English girls, wealthy Bonnie Green and her poor orphaned cousin Sylvia, who has come to live with them in their mansion at Willoughby Chase. Bonnie's parents go on a vacation for her mother's health, leaving them under the guardianship of Sir Willoughby's distant cousin Miss Slighcarp, who reveals her villainy when her patron leaves by immediately plundering the estate and sending the children to an orphanage. How the two plucky children endure and escape makes for an exciting adventure. While I read this over and over as a child, I never appreciated the extensiveness of the vocabulary until I read it aloud to my kids, because I had to pause many times to explain words to them. It's a testimony to Aiken's writing skill that that does not detract from children's understanding or enjoyment of the story.
One of my favorite books growing up.
Wicked wolves without and a grim governess within threaten Bonnie and her cousin Syvia when Bonnie's parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. How can they leave the orphanage and get their happy home back?