Arabel and Mortimer

It's a dark, rainy night in March and Ebenezer Jones has no idea that his family's life is about to be turned upside down by two thieves that squeal past his taxi on their motorcycle, hitting a large raven who is crossing the street. After the robbers speed off, Ben is unsure what to do with the stunned raven, which he takes home and inadvertently leaves in the refrigerator. The next morning the bird (which has consumed the entire contents of the refrigerator) is discovered by Mrs. Jones and their young daughter, Arabel. Much to Mr. and Mrs. Jones' chagrin, Arabel and the newly christened "Mortimer" take to each other, and suddenly the family finds itself with a perpetually hungry, temperamental raven with a knack for finding trouble. Even the most standard outing can turn into chaos with Mortimer, usually due to his cat-like curiosity. Set in London and written by Joan Aiken (best known for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase), these stories have a charm and hilarity all their own and were my absolute favorite books when I was a young reader. Each of the books below includes three multi-chapter stories that make great read-alouds. I only hope more of them come back into print! - Jess

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