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The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken (The Mad Misadventures of Emmaline and Rubberbones)
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The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken (The Mad Misadventures of Emmaline and Rubberbones)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  291 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
In the kick-off novel in the Mad Misadventures series, 14-year-old pioneering aviatrix Emmaline Cayley is afraid of one thing: plummeting to her doom. Fortunately, 12-year-old Robert Burns, an indestructible village boy, is not. Absurdly unafraid of bodily harm, "Rubberbones" is the ideal pilot for Emmaline's experiments with flight. But before Emmaline can perfect a flyin ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Kids Can Press (first published June 1st 2006)
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Fourteen year old Emmaline Cayley is an aviation pioneering expert--after all her great grandfather was one so why shouldn't she be as well. Emmaline is destined to design the best flying contraption known to mankind--she just doesn't want to fly it. When she meets Robert "Rubberbones" Burns, known to be quite frankly indestructible, she knows that she has her flyer (after all she is scared of flying and someone must document the flight from the ground). But when Emmaline's mother decides that E ...more
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 7-9 year old girls
This book started off really, really well. I was very much enjoying it...and then came the part where Emmaline was sent off to (you guessed it) the strictest school in the world. The rest of the book was predictable, and the school was nothing original (except for the school's "birds," which never received adequate explanation). Imagine every book, particularly one of Dickens', that you've read that has a bleak, strict, despairing school/orphan population combined with cruel matrons/masters. It ...more
Sheryl Smith
This is a very creative book with some surprising plot pieces, much like A Series of Unfortuante Events, but with out all the sad undertones. It is a less complicated book, more straightforward relationships, surprises in relationships and offers some illumination in the distinction between stereotyping people and who those people really are.

It is an adventure that has kept us on the edge of our seats!
Mar 04, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-and-ya
This book had an excellent premise, but terrible execution. Premise: girl who wants to build flying machine escapes from strictest school in Victorian England with help of bouncing boy, mad scientist, bumbling colonel, and sweet aunt who makes tea out of insects. Excellent, right?

And the author is clearly a fairly gifted individual, who has very nearly mastered the absurdism captured in such books as Matilda or Harry Potter. The problem is, those books were written by geniuses, and absurdism alo
Book Talk: Emmaline is determined to build a flying machine, and she gets the perfect opportunity to do just that when her parents send her from India to stay with her aunt in England. Her aunt is a widower with the money to support Emmaline in her aviary endeavors and seems to have no qualms with allowing her niece to engage in such a dangerous and unlady-like pastime. When she finds a local town boy nicknamed Rubberbones to pilot her machine it seems like she has everything she needs. But soon ...more
This is a fun Victorian romp in the tradition of Joan Aiken's Dido Twite books. It's not as well-written as those books, but there are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. It concerns one Emmaline Clayley, who wants to be an aviatrix and designer of flying machines, but she is afraid of flying. Enter Robert, a boy with the amazing ability to fall great distances and not be hurt (you can also throw bricks at him and they just bounce off). It seems like a perfect match, but sadly, Emmaline's mother be ...more
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pretty much no-one
Recommended to Suzanne by: Saw it at the library
I saw this book at the library and thought it looked like it would be fun. It sounded like it would be along the lines of the Series of Unfortunate Events book, and I thought I'd give it a try to see if my sons or their friends would like it. I have my answer---they wouldn't!

The story is basically about a girl who is sent by her parents to an extremely strict and horrible boarding school. The setting is the Victorian era in England. That's all fine, but the characters are overdone to the point o
Emmeline dreams of building a flying machine, and her new friend “Rubberbones,” who seems to be impervious to pain, eagerly pilots each craft she creates. Their dreams are put on hold, however, when Emmeline is sent to St. Grimelda’s School for Girls, run by a cruel headmistress and faculty. Adventures continue as outside the walls of St. Grimelda’s plans for a rescue are hatched, and inside, Emmeline tries to survive her torturous classmates and teachers. Although the story stretches a bit too ...more
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These books are hysterical. Emmaline is sent to an evil school where the headmistress is a witch and the girls are kept in terror of "the Birds," which are pterodactyls. (Yes, I said pterodactyls) Meanwhile, her aunt, her friend Rubberbones (called that because he doesn't get hurt; he just bounces) and Lal Singh, the India butler are attempting to rescue her, with the help of a couple of gypsies named Syd and Norah. As in happens in most rescue missions, not everything follows the extremely biza ...more
An absolutely endearing, silly book! Emmaline is shunted off to a ridiculously strict school in England when her parents (serving the Queen in India) decide she needs a proper education. But Emmaline's dream is to fly -- even if she fears flying! Luckily, a local lad who is incapable of getting hurt is willing to be her test pilot. This unlikely pair form a strong bond, and when Emmaline must be rescued from her scary (and dinosaur-ridden) school, Rubberbones... and her batty aunt... and a mad A ...more
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-february, gepl
This melodramatic book will likely appeal to those who loved Series of Unfortunate Events. Emmaline, the fourteen-year-old heroine, wants to build a flying machine and thus follow in the footsteps of her famous great-great-great uncle. She finds many obstacles in her way and encounters a few helpers too. The obstacles include the horrific school she must attend, St. Grimelda’s School for Young Ladies, where she is a virtual prisoner. Fortunately her Aunt Lucy and her unusual friend Rubberbones, ...more
This was a cute story about a girl who wants to build flying machines, a boy that she meets while living with her aunt who likes to fly her flying machines (who is able to fall from high places and not get hurt) and the horrible school her mother sends her off to (which she has to escape from). Parts in the beginning had me falling over laughing, and there were some good explosions at the end. Not great literature, but quite entertaining and worth a read if you like stories set in the Victorian ...more
The main character, when learning the school's many school rules for the first time, makes an observation that is PRICELESS: there were rules for absolutely everything. Everything that was not forbidden was compulsory. BA HA HA. I liked rubberbones and the aunt's eccentric attitude and the jokes about the rugby rivalry that dates back to 1346 or something like that. The flying machine stuff, i actually found a bit tiresome, but i do give the author props for giving a female protagonist more inte ...more
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of my favourite books ever because it is meant to be funny, there are interesting and unrealistic characters, pterodactyls, and an exciting plot. It is about a girl that wants to fly, and how she is sent to "The Strictest School in the World", and how her odd aunt, bouncy (literally) friend, a mad scientist, and a mysterious butler help her to escape, and a violent princess from a distant land interferes. I recommend this book to everybody because it is at or even under grade se ...more
Dec 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very amusing and quick to read fantasy. I grew quite fond of Rubberbones. It includes a very good lesson in courage and how to deal with bullies.
I'm certainly glad my brothers didn't read this book when they were young, we'd have had a lot more interesting adventures, possibly including broken bones, and we had quite enough interesting adventures as it was. Just ask me about Barbie in Space and the Ken Hostage Crisis.
Brooke Shirts
Nov 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever Victorian adventures a la The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't read it so soon after Eva Ibbotson's The Star of Kazan, whose horrible parody of a boarding school nearly puts the "Strictest School" to shame.

Hmm . . . I had the same problem with reading The Thief Lord too soon after Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief. Huh.
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile
What a gem! I found this one Friday in the juvenile section too. Naomi, I think Abby would get a kick out of this one. It is full of wacky characters that are so original and lovable. It has Dickensian school marms, gypsies, zany old gentleman and a rubber boy. And Emmaline the heroine is just perfect. She doesn't care what anyone thinks about her interest in flying machines. And her Aunt Lucy is very smart for someone who insists that earthworm sandwiches are healthy.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, novel
A charming, clever (the title was correct) female protagonist with an 'unbreakable' friend in the middle of Victoriana mixed with a touch of steampunk and lots of eccentric characters that I really liked. Made me snort with laughter at certain points, and then want to eat chocolate cake. I appreciate books that both make me laugh and appreciate the loveliness of chocolate cake.
Jul 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family, nancypearl
I found the story funny, amused by the description of the older aunt who collects snails and earthworms for lunch. Unfortunately, it wasn't engaging enough to capture my 11 year old's imagination. This would be a great story for an advanced younger reader - someone 7-9 comfortable reading adventure story.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kids!
I would have ADORED this book when I was 10. I found this in the YA section but the themes are more apt for Juvenile. It was an adventure story with a number of stock characters and some creative ideas. The horrible school with terrifying punishments is just the kind of thing that would have made me head-over-heels as a kid.
This book was a great book because it taught me the message of friendship and courage.
I really liked this book because it was interesting, fun and really exciting.
There is always a new adventure within each chapter.
I liked this book but at some points it could get a little random and boring which is why I rated it 3 stars.
I recommend this book to anyone that likes adventure and mystery.
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-for-boys
I enjoyed this story. I like that the heroine overcomes some of her fears, and that she is interested in aeronautics. I like that not everyone turns out to be as expected in the story. I like that the book seems to advocate home education. "The birds" are very mysterious but unexplained. Hopefully that will be cleared up in the sequels.
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great fun and great illustrations. This was written as a children's book, probably targeting the 9-13 age range, but it has both a great girl character and a great boy character and a bevy of wonderfully well defined,eccentric but delicious supporting characters. Adventurous with a great dollop of humor. I'm ready for the next one!!
Rebecca Lee
An adventure book on an ambitious girl, an unbreakable boy, a weird aunt and a few gypsies. Together, the unbreakable boy with the nickname 'Rubberbones', her aunt Lucy, and the gypsies try to rescue Emmaline from the strictest school in the world where many mysteries are hidden within the walls of this school :)
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this to my 10-year-old (a nightly tradition; he follows along) and we both LOVED it! The author is hilarious, and I especially had fun reading the story with a British accent. My son loved them so much that he would sneak them to his room and read them instead of going to sleep.
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Quirky, and delightful story set in Victorian times about a girl who gets sent to a horrid private school in England. Lots of interesting characters, and silly things going on through out, I loved it!
Ja Sweeten
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The girls really enjoyed this as a read-aloud, and there were several humorous bits. However, towards the end it felt a little bit slow and too predictable, and I had to force myself to finish it for the girls.
Aug 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: good readers ages 8-12
Well the writing was hard to get into and very densely printed but in the end I liked it. :) Pits EVIL (100% bad) adults against wily and inventive children with a surprise Jurassic twist. Recommended for squirrely dreamers everywhere.
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
This book is utterly silly and I really enjoyed it! The dry British humor is great. Things like the bad guys of a foreign country are named Sneekidivil and Bakistabbo. It is very suspenseful and adventurous too!

Anita Prince
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, humor
Emmaline invents flying machines and her best friend Robert Burns - also known as "Rubberbones"- flies them. All is well until Emmaline is sent to St. Grimelda's School for Young Ladies, locked away, and allowed no visitors. How will she escape?
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Howard Whitehouse lives in Hudson Valley, New York, US, with his wife, Lori Whitehouse, a pastor.

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Other Books in the Series

The Mad Misadventures of Emmaline and Rubberbones (3 books)
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