The Peterkin Papers is a book-length collection of humorous stories by Lucretia Peabody Hale, and is her best-known work. The Peterkins are a lovable but comically inept family with ingenuity, logic, resourcefulness, and energy—but not common sense. Many chapters show the family trying to solve some problem in a roundabout way, failing, and eventually being rescued by “the wise old lady from Philadelphia,” who cuts the Gordian knot with an effective but prosaic solution. The charm of the story is not in the plot, but in the telling, building up layers of complication, and the affectionate fun poked at the not-quite-cartoonish characters. The “wise old lady’s” solution is usually obvious to the reader, even the young listener, from the start.
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