Title: Over Sea, Under Stone
Author: Susan Cooper
Publication: Atheneum, hardcover, 1965 (paperback reprint 2000)
Genre: Children’s fiction/fantasy
Plot: Simon, Jane, Barney, and their parents travel to Cornwall for a holiday with their Great Uncle Merry. He has rented an old house in the village of Trewissick that comes with a friendly dog, Rufus, and a seemingly jolly housekeeper, Mrs. Palk. On their first excursion, the children discover a mysterious yacht and make an enemy, an unexpectedly hostile local boy. They also explore the house and find a hidden door that leads to a fusty musty dusty attic, in which they are lucky enough to find a secret map tucked under the floorboards. It is delightfully ancient with Latin inscriptions, and is so clearly a treasure map that the children instinctively agree not to tell their parents they found it. However, their attempts to search for what they optimistically hope is King Arthur’s grail bring them into dangerous contact with menacing individuals who want the unknown loot for themselves. As the children fight to locate and save the treasure, Great Uncle Merry turns out to be the key to the vanquishing their rivals in a surprisingly dark introduction to The Dark is Rising series.
Audience: Fans of juvenile fantasy or classic 20th century English adventure stories
|credit: Alison MacAdam, NPR|
I met Cooper, who lives in Greater Boston, on two occasions but unfortunately they were the type of crowded autographing sessions where you barely get time to murmur your admiration. It is interesting that her second marriage was to Hume Cronyn, who performed, with his then wife Jessica Tandy, in the Broadway production of Foxfire, which he co-wrote with Cooper. The two couples became friendly, stayed in touch, and consoled each other later on.
Source: I bought a Puffin paperback on a family vacation to Bermuda when I was 11. I hope it is not lost but it certainly isn't on the shelf with its siblings. I had to get a copy from the library when I had a yearning to reread. If you have not read this series, it is not too late, even for adult readers.
Off the Blog: I was doing a presentation on credit building earlier to a group of Hispanic elementary school parents in East Boston. Someone was there to translate my English to Spanish but it was challenging to simplify the concepts so they wouldn’t get lost in translation yet still get the message across.