cover image Ms. Rapscott's Girls

Ms. Rapscott's Girls

Elise Primavera. Dial, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3822-5

In this breezy novel, Primavera (Libby of High Hopes) evokes the spirit of such larger-than-life characters as Willy Wonka and Mary Poppins with Ms. Rapscott, the mysterious, take-charge, and oddly nurturing headmistress of the Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents. In a sequence of wordless pencil illustrations %C3%A0 la The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Ms. Rapscott and her stalwart corgi assistants stand atop the school's lighthouse to greet a fleet of five large flying boxes containing their newest students. Four girls (one box arrived empty) comprise a motley class of ill-mannered and lonely children whose parents have no time for them, a circumstance the headmistress knows well. Starting with a daily breakfast of birthday cake and ice cream, Ms. Rapscott takes her charges on fantastical journeys that include riding on the backs of seal-like creatures called Seaskimmers, searching for their missing classmate, and flying in Amelia Earhart's plane. Primavera charmingly depicts the girls' activities in her soft pencil artwork, and a neat resolution and the suggestion of a new school term will leave readers eager for another outing. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.)