(Ann) Philippa Pearce The Junior Bookshelf - Essay

The Junior Bookshelf

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[A writer of Philippa Pearce's] unmatched integrity can do nothing trivial, and even her slightest book has the Pearce fingerprints all over it. In [The Battle of Bubble and Squeak, a] nice little tale of how two gerbils capture a family's affections and in so doing transform the life of each member, she demonstrates the famous use of language. Each word is weighed, measured and then fitted into place with a craftsman's precision; nothing could be farther from the clichés and the secondbest of much present-day writing, for children as for their elders. There is no cliché either of character or situation. The story works itself out in terms of people and their reactions to crisis and to one another.

This however is only the machinery. What matters is what it produces. The story of how the Parkers came to terms with their pets has warmth and tenderness and a little heartbreak. Above all it is the story of Mrs. Parker …, not at all the conventional mother, who finds it hardest of all to love the gerbils and plays a key part in their salvation. Here in a little book is a big study.

"The New Books: 'The Battle of Bubble and Squeak'," in The Junior Bookshelf, Vol. 42, No. 6, December, 1978, p. 302.