(Ann) Philippa Pearce

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Margery Fisher

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To use Edward Blishen's invaluable phrase, [the stories in What the Neighbours Did and Other Stories] have "a child's eye at the centre" but they do not reflect an exclusively child-centred world.

It is the world of the Barleys, Great and Little, the Cambridgeshire world of Ben Blewitt's grandparents, the scene of the river adventure of Minnow and of Hattie Bartholomew's child hood…. In a sense the story [Still Jim and Silent Jim] celebrates—as they all do—that pace and closeness in village life of which one aspect is that crabbed age and youth can and do live together.

Let nobody suppose, though, that these are not stories for children to read. They describe with memory and with verbal skill the doings of childhood…. The impeccable art in the stories, the prose that never obtrudes but is always active, pointed, lucid—these are for adults to enjoy consciously and for the young to absorb without having to indulge in any comprehension exercise. Such books form taste, through delight. (pp. 2051-52)

Margery Fisher, "Special Review: 'What the Neighbours Did and Other Stories'," in her Growing Point, Vol. 11, No. 6, December, 1972, pp. 2051-52.

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Virginia Haviland


The Times Literary Supplement