Katy and Clover go to boarding school where they make friends and have all sorts of adventures that only boarding school girls can have. (It is an episodic novel.) There are lots of funny stories about how school rules get broken and what it's like to live on the same floor as a strict teacher. A whole chapter is devoted to a wonderful game called "WORD AND QUESTION". It is my favorite chapter of the book, since it is full of funny poems and funny situations. (Word and Question is also one of my favorite games to play.) Another chapter is all about the S.S.U.C., a club of which Katy is president. The acrostic unbelievably stands for "Society for Suppression of Unladylike Conduct"--for Katy, Clover and all the members are determined to be as ladylike and proper as possible.
Some people despair that Katy, who was such a wonderful tomboy, finally lost herself. They say that the book influences little girls who are like Katy to be someone they are not. Personally, I think that "What Katy Did at School" is not about a girl being something she is not. In fact, Katy is extremely self-possessed. I believe that the books "What Katy Did" and "What Katy Did in School", when taken together, teach little girls that it is okay to be wild and free--but it is also okay to be ladylike. Anyone who says that Katy stopped having fun in this book has never read it, was never really a girl, or just has a personal bias against boarding schools.
Dr. Carr (Katy's father) and the two very sad sisters, go off together to the train which would take them to Hillsover, the name of the boarding school. At the train, Katy, Clover, and Dr. Carr meets Mr. and Mrs. Page and the "bubbly" Lilly. Lilly is very snobbish and spoiled but the two Carr sisters listens to Lilly's opinion about Hillsover, and they decide that they half like and half dislike it.
After some time of traveling, Katy, Clover, Lilly, and Dr. Carr reach Hillsover. Katy and Clover are allowed to spend one night with Dr. Carr in another Hotel and after they meet a very strange but interesting girl called Rosy Red, they start thinking that Hillsover will be pretty interesting after all. But they are horrified that they have to share a washroom with other girls and Dr. Carr, noting this, buys a washroom for them, very much relieving the sisters' terror. They meet all the girls and starts getting used to the flow of Hillsover. All the girls dislike Miss Jane, a missionary's apprentice, who has a verry sharp tongue and makes many strict rules, and another teacher, Miss Nipson, who does not have a good judgement over the girls. But the students are very respectful and rather afraid of another teacher, named Miss Florence.Read more ›
Naturally, a part of my strongly positive reaction was nostalgia, but nevertheless this is a beautifully written story, both moving and humorous, full of imaginative magic and the cosy warmth of a loving home at the same time. The characters are lovable and memorable - is there a girl who couldn't identify herself with the clumsy, unfortunate Katy or admire the saint-like, yet fully human cousin Helen?
At the risk of sounding like a walking cliche, I must say that they just don't write books like this any longer: clean, wholesome and still totally satisfying and entertaining. But even if the whole world ran after the latest shock values, I would always be coming back to books like these - books for a girl who loves to read.