We have thoroughly enjoyed doing The Classics Challenge and have read some fabulous stories. Arabel’s Raven is the final classic story that we have read this year and it was full of so much humour and intrigue that I’ve bought all the other Arabel and Mortimer stories!
The Story: One night as Mr Jones is driving his taxi home he almost runs over a large raven. He takes the raven home and his daughter Arabel calls him Mortimer. One day the jewellery shop where Mrs Jones works is robbed and Mortimer is kidnapped by the two thieves and their squirrel. Can Arabel find her beloved raven? Who are the thieves that are behind a spate of burglaries in the town?
The Jones’ family life is turned upside down when Mortimer joins their household. He has some very amusing peculiarities, not least his penchance for eating wooden stairs and his unique telephone manner, both of which feature during his kidnap and subsequent rescue. Arabel is a strong, plucky character who, although still only at playgroup, shows a great deal of independence and maturity. As an only child she is devoted to Mortimer and their unusual friendship is the main theme of the story, she is devastated when Mortimer goes missing.
Quentin Blake’s trademark illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the humorous text. Mortimer is almost as big as Arabel and my favourite illustration shows Mortimer riding in Mrs Jones’ shopping trolley. We also love the picture where Mortimer is kidnapped although we feel sorry for the squirrel who is wearing a bomb around his neck! The story and the adventure is timeless although some of the language dates it, I had to explain what the discs in the music shop were.
We’re looking forward to reading more of Mortimer and Arabel’s adventures. The books are small and slim, they’re the perfect size to carry in a handbag and we enjoyed the story so much that we read it in one sitting!
Age Range: 6 +
Author: Joan Aiken / Illustrator: Quentin Blake