(Ann) Philippa Pearce Frank Eyre - Essay

Frank Eyre

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Tom's Midnight Garden is] the perfect fantasy of our time…. This deeply moving, beautifully written and completely convincing time-fantasy is one of the most perfectly conceived and executed children's books of the past twenty years. (p. 128)

The author makes beautifully subtle and complex use of [the] time-shift….

Such a story in other hands could be mawkish and unconvincing, just another time fantasy. In Philippa Pearce's it becomes almost unbearably moving. A wonderful book…. (p. 130)

Although it is typical of the author's highly individual outlook that the social problem [in Minnow on the Say] should be turned upside down and it is the bus driver's family that leads the happy, secure and well-fed life, while the upper class family is in difficulties, this is not a 'social consciousness' novel. It is a straightforward adventure story, with a long-sustained search for buried treasure by the river; a moderately nasty villain, an old mill, lovable (and unlovable) country characters, and even a happy ending. But the author's style and manner transmute these ordinary ingredients into pure gold and this is a fine book which, although not a fantasy, is unmistakably by the author who was shortly to produce Tom's Midnight Garden. To have been runner-up for the Carnegie Medal with one's first book and win it with one's second must be a rare feat, but Philippa Pearce achieved it, and deserved to. (p. 131)

[The Children of the House] is, as might be expected, well done, but it is a surprising thing for so original and creative a writer to have done. It will be interesting to see what she does next. Whatever it is, it will be original, imaginative, and written with truth and sincerity, for she creates a real world that is far removed from the imaginary worlds in which so many children's books are set. (p. 132)

Frank Eyre, "Fiction for Children," in his British Children's Books in the Twentieth Century (copyright © 1971 by Frank Eyre; reprinted by permission of the publishers, E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.; in Canada by Penguin Books Ltd.), Longman Books, 1971, Dutton, 1973, pp. 76-156.∗