Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Racketty-Packetty House by Frances Hodgson Burnett

90 pages
Published 1906, reprinted 2006
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
New York, NY

I first learned of The Racketty-Packetty House by Frances Hodgson Burnett through my friend Alison. Published in 1906, this children's fairytale story was republished in 2006, but still remains relatively unknown amongst readers. Curious to know if it was as good as some of Burnett's other children's stories (i.e. The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, etc.), I decided to give it a closer look.

The Plot:
When Tidy Castle arrives, brand-new and grand in every way, the
Racketty-Packetty House has never looked shabbier, and it is shoved in the corner of Cynthia's nursery. But the Racketty family still dances, sings, and laughs louder than all the fancy dolls combined. When a real-life princess visits the nursery, the Rackettys learn that the humans are planning to destroy their house. Only a miracle--or some very unusual magic -- can save them now! (Summary courtesy of the publisher)

My Thoughts:
Overall, The Racketty-Packetty House is definitely a classic. One contemporary author praised it saying, "If you believe in fairies -- and if your dolls have adventures when you leave the room -- then Frances Hodgson Burnett has the book for you."

I couldn't agree more. The Racketty-Packetty House is charming, sweet and an enjoyably entertaining read for young readers. It's exactly the type of book I would have loved as a little girl.

Unfortunately as an adult reader I didn't find The Racketty-Packetty House to be of the same caliber as Burnett's The Secret Garden. And yet, perhaps that isn't so much the fault of the story or author, but the reader. Perhaps I was expecting a story fleshed out to the extent of a novel when I really should have been expecting a short story. Or perhaps if I had read this story as a child I would have identified better with the characters than I do as an adult. (If that's so... how sad!) That said, I still enjoyed the story. Burnett's writing is lively and entertaining, whimsical and creative. The story plot reminds me of a mix of fairytale meets Beatrix Potter. I'd recommend it to young readers, parents of young readers (especially girls who love dolls and make believe), or even readers who enjoy dolls-come-to-life stories like The Doll's House, The Doll People, Miss Hickory, or The Borrowers.

Although published for ages nine to twelve, I think this book could even make for a great read aloud to children as young as five or six. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate The Racketty-Packetty House a 4. It's charming, sweet and one I plan to read aloud to my daughter in about four or five years.

If you happen upon an inexpensive copy of this book I encourage you to add it to your persona library. Otherwise, as it was only just reprinted three (almost four) years ago, you should be able to obtain a copy in the children's section of your local library.

1 comment:

hopeinbrazil said...

Sounds like a lovely book!