Arabel’s Raven by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake

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Arabel’s Raven by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: I can’t help but love this delightfully naughty raven who, in spite of his destructive ways, appears to have his heart in the right place!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 80 Date: June 2015
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781847806918

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It’s been many, many years since I first met Arabel and her pet raven, Mortimer, whilst watching Jackanory on children’s television. Bernard Cribbins used to read the stories, and they became firm favourites of mine. Here I am returning to the first book in the series, well, just a handful of years later, and the story has lost none of its charm.

This is the tale in which we meet Mortimer for the first time, when Mr Jones (Arabel’s dad) rescues him from a night-time hit and run incident. Mortimer soon becomes the Jones family’s pet (to Arabel’s delight and Mrs Jones’ horror!) and thus begins a world of trouble. It’s one thing when Mortimer is eating the stairs at home, but when he becomes the suspect in a diamond robbery, well, things start to get a lot more troublesome. Poor Mortimer! Is he the victim of mistaken identities, or is he actually part of a criminal gang who have been stealing from the whole town?

I’m not sure what first endeared me to these stories. Perhaps it was little Arabel, who is so earnest and good, and who loves her dear raven so much. Perhaps it was Mortimer himself, who is so terribly naughty. He’s naughty in a different way to Paddington (another favourite of mine) because Paddington is quite innocently naughty, and gets into trouble by accident whereas Mortimer always seems to have rather a knowing air about him! There’s a joy in his anarchy, however, and perhaps that was always the appeal as I was a very good little girl, of course, and so I revelled in the naughty raven’s escapades!

In this introduction to the characters, there’s plenty of naughtiness, and silliness to enjoy. Mortimer accidentally gets shut in the fridge overnight on his arrival at the Jones’ house, and when Mrs Jones discovers him there in the morning she is shocked to discover that he has eaten all the cheese and a blackcurrant tart and five pints of milk and a bowl of dripping and a pound of sausages! I like that the word Mortimer picks up on, and decides to repeat, is Nevermore! It always seems appropriate somehow, no matter what situation he is uttering it in, and I do enjoy the different emphasis he places on the word depending on the mood of the moment! I have to admit, there were some parts that made me laugh out loud, including where we read There was a bit of trouble because he wanted to sleep in the fridge every night, but Mrs Jones put a stop to that; in the end he agreed to sleep in the airing cupboard. I can’t quite say what it is that tickles me, but I do like this story very much!

The book is divided into chapters, and although it’s not terribly difficult language, I did feel that the chapters were just a little too long to work for emerging readers. This is much better either to share of a bedtime, reading it aloud yourself to whoever may want to curl up and listen, or else pass it over to your newly confident little readers, and they’ll enjoy the mischief that Mortimer gets up to. A nice introduction to the characters, that definitely leaves you wanting more.

If this tickles your fancy, then you’ll probably also enjoy George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl or Esio Trot, also by Roald Dahl.

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Buy Arabel’s Raven by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Arabel’s Raven by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake at


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