Best YA & YYA Lit 1971 (4)

By: Joshua Glenn
November 23, 2019

For several years now, I’ve argued — here at HILOBROW, as well as in the UNBORED books I’ve co-authored — that the Sixties (1964–1973) were a golden age for YA and YYA adventures. This post is one in a series of 10 identifying my favorites from 1971.

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Joan Aiken’s YA historical adventure The Cuckoo Tree.

At the catastrophic finale of Black Hearts in Battersea (1964), Dido Twite, a bratty but plucky Cockney tomboy, apparently drowns. After receiving letters from outraged fans, Aiken would arrange to have a comatose Dido picked up — rather like Captain America, plucked from the sea in 1964’s The Avengers #4, now that I think of it — by a whaling ship, in the light-hearted Nightbirds on Nantucket (1966). But The Cuckoo Tree is an altogether darker, more sinister adventure. Dido has returned to England with Captain Hughes — about whom we’ve heard in 1968’s Wolves Chronicles prequel The Whispering Mountain, and who is carrying dispatches vital to the Admiralty — when their carriage overturns, injuring Hughes and stranding them at Tegleaze Manor House… which turns out to be a hotbed of Hanoverian conspirators against King James III. As usual, Aiken is having fun with Victorian melodramatic tropes: in addition to another assassination plot, we meet a sinister and racing-obsessed lady, the Joobie nut-dispensing Tante Sannie, the local witch Mrs. Lubbage, twins separated at birth, a creepy puppeteer, and a plot to extort money from a noble family. Dido’s father, the Hanoverian conspirator Mr. Twite, resurfaces. And there are other characters, as well — perhaps too many. Throughout, we continue to root for Dido to find a true home.

Fun facts: In order of publication, this is the fifth installment in the Wolves Chronicles series. One suspects it was intended to be the final one, as Aiken wouldn’t publish another until 1981’s The Stolen Lake — which takes place between Nightbirds on Nantucket and The Cuckoo Tree, during Dido’s voyage back to England with Captain Hughes.

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Let me know if I’ve missed any adventures from this year that you particularly admire. Also, please check out these additional lists.

BEST SIXTIES YA & YYA: [Best YA & YYA Lit 1963] | Best YA & YYA Lit 1964 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1965 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1966 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1967 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1968 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1969 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1970 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1971 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1972 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1973. ALSO: Best YA Sci-Fi.

The 200 Greatest Adventures (1804–1983). THE OUGHTS: 1904 | 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS: 1914 | 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES: 1924 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES: 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES: 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES: 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES: 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES: 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. THE EIGHTIES: 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993. THE NINETIES: 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003. I’ve only recently started making notes toward a list of Best Adventures of the EIGHTIES, NINETIES, and TWENTY-OUGHTS.

Categories

Adventure, Lit Lists

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