Goodreads: Ms. Rapscott’s Girls
Published: March 2015
The Great Rapscott School for Daughters of Busy Parents advertises its services for those parents too preoccupied even to teach their daughters what a birthday cake is or how to tie their shoes. However, the greatest lesson, headmistress Rapscott believes is How To Find Your Way. Soon her students are parachuting through the sky and skimming through the sea. But on all their journeyings will they ever find Dahlia Thistle, the student who went missing before she even arrived?
Ms. Rapscott’s Girls attempts to achieve a quirky tone reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Here we have the mysterious building, the slightly insane owner, and the host of children, each one more unlikely and perhaps unlikable than the previous. Unusual adventures led by an adult apparently oblivious to danger complete the similarities. Because, despite the presence of all the elements, this story fails to capture the same magic.
Roald Dahl manages to capture the personalities of his characters in a few deft touches, but in this book, even with informative backstories and and blatant capitalization (“That is how so-and-so become known as Trait”) could not make its girls come to life. I should have felt sorry for them, sorry for their loneliness and their poor upbringing, which has led them to become so disagreeable because they never were taught how to get along or to be polite or to be useful. Instead I had difficulty keeping track of them all (the lazy one and the other one, whoever she was) and really did not care what happened to them at all. I figured Ms. Rapscott would not really let them drown or anything.
I love quirky books and middle grade books and books about boarding schools. I love adventures and books that feature a band of girls who are (or become) friends. Even so, I could not love this book. Without any characters at its heart, the story simply fell flat.