An enquiring mind - and mystical mysteries to solve - adds up to adventure in the first book of the new junior fiction series from acclaimed author Allison Rushby.

“Now, Miss Pickering.” Miss Strickland turned to her pupil. “If you would be so kind as to close the door behind you, we will endeavour to discuss why your aunt, her publisher and her monkey have called upon us this afternoon.”

Forever in trouble for sketching in her notebook, Penny Pickering dreams of her famous authoress aunt turning up at her boarding school and whisking her away. So when Aunt Harriet appears at Miss Strickland’s School for Girls of an Enquiring Mind and asks Penny if she would like to join her on an adventure, Penny knows exactly what to say – yes, please!

Penny soon finds herself headed for Hampshire and a strange place called Mr Toddington’s Museum of the Curious and Absurd where bewitched kittens are said to have a tea party at midnight.


Allison Rushby, the daughter of an author, was raised on a wholesome and steady diet of classic English literature. Some of her favourite books, re-read countless dog-eared times include Rumer Godden's The Dolls' House, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle and Noel Streatfield's "Shoes" series. She has long been a fan of cities with long, winding histories, wild, overgrown cemeteries, red brick Victorian museums, foxes and ivy. She prefers to write with a cup of Darjeeling tea by her side and a Devon Rex cat curled up in her lap.

Bronte Rose Marando is a Sydney based illustrator. Her whimsical artwork is influenced by our natural world, a love of narrative, the unknown and all things mysterious and magical. When she isn’t drawing you can find Bronte with her nose in a good book or wandering about antique stores.


This book is filled with drama and mystery… the first in a planned series and Allison Rushby does provide a hint that more will follow about this early in the first book when Penny reads a letter purportedly sent by her parents which mentions flowers such as Monkshood, Rhododendrons and Oleander. Two of these are poisonous and they don’t flower in October and why would her parents be in Switzerland? I will need to continue to series to solve this mystery.

Momo Time To Read

Penny is a wonderful character and this is the first book in a wonderful new series that junior and middle primary students will love.

Lamont Books

This fantastic book kept me reading it all in one sitting. It was one that I could not put down because I wanted to find out what happened, and I’m glad I did, because it was an exciting and not too scary read – so for those of us who don’t enjoy scary stories, this is a perfect book, as it also gives us a nice ending filled with hope, and that will lead into future books that I am sure will be just as wonderful and exciting, and filled with fantastic female characters who do not always do as they are told or expected.

Ashleigh Meikle

A whimsical adventure with just the right amount of creepy, this first in a new series is a delightful little historical mystery with a lead character who is brave and resourceful

A Word About Books

Our youngest readers deserve such rich and magical book offerings. Though sophisticated, Penny Dreadful is engaging and accessible, with gentle humour, whimsical illustrations, intriguing history and mystery elements.

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