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The Trouble with Wenlocks: A Stanley Wells Mystery

Joel Stewart

Fiction (Series)

Ages 8 and up

Random House UK, 2007, 978-0-385-61007-0

  Stanley Wells is going to visit his dad. Ever since his parents began to live apart three years ago he has had to travel on countless trains going to and from his dad’s home. On this trip however things take a decidedly peculiar turn. First of all everyone on the train falls asleep – except Stanley. Then a large white “cream-white something” comes and stands right next to his seat. Stanley gets a strong feeling of sadness as the thing stands next to him but then a small dog attacks the thing and bites it.

  It turns out that dog, which is called Morcambe, is the companion of a very odd looking individual called Dr E. B. Moon. Dr Moon suggests that they should get off the train which they do. It turns out that Dr Moon is on a case – to look for a little girl who has gone missing. He believes that she was kidnapped by the strange white creatures which Stanley saw on the train. The creatures are called wenlocks and the little girl is called Umiko Lee. She is the daughter of Albert Lee, a good friend of Dr Moon’s.

  Together Dr Moon, Morcambe, and Stanley travel along the canal until they get to Albert Lee’s houseboat. There they find out that Umiko has been making little creatures which she calls “sorrows.” Apparently they help her deal with the grief that she has been feeling since her mother died. Umiko told her father that the wenlocks were coming to take away the sorrows that she had made. It would appear that they have taken her away as well. Thankfully Dr Moon and Stanley are able to figure out where the wenlocks might have gone and they set off in pursuit.

  In this unique, poignant and certainly thought provoking story, Joel Stewart explores the idea that we need our sorrows in order to be truly whole and happy. Without them we cannot really appreciate the good moments in our lives. Well meaning Umiko wants to take away people’s sorrows and fears but in the end she sees that the people she is trying to help are better off when those same sorrows and fears are returned to them. Full of delightful black and white illustrations and touched with magically evocative moments and lyrical sections of text, this is very special book in what promises to be a highly acclaimed series.

The Trouble with Wenlocks


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