11 year old Allegra is enjoying her family's annual vacation in their rather ancient summer house in Maine to the full, even if she does have to deal with moony older sister Alice and somewhat crazy younger sister Minnow. Then there's an emergency; an elderly relative has died and their parents must go back and arrange for the funeral. Allegra is horrified when she realizes they must give up several weeks vacation at their beloved Maine coast and stay with stuffy Aunt Ruth. But then she has an idea. At first, staying by themselves seems wonderful. But there's a lot more to being in charge than Allegra had expected.
Apart from hideous 80s covers, this is a story as fresh and relevant to modern children as when it was first written. Even if you've never vacationed on the Maine coast or had a summer house, however ramshackle, every child can sympathize with wanting to be on their own as well as the frustration of having to fall in with unpleasant plans. The girls' struggles to find enough to eat and deal with various domestic catastrophes, specifically Allegra's exasperated attempts to keep her irresponsible sisters fed and (mostly) clothed, are interspersed with moments of pure magic and delight.
Verdict: I was so happy to see this was still available - and in a lovely Kevin Hawkes edition. A perfect summer read for 8 - 12s.