(Ann) Philippa Pearce Margery Fisher - Essay

Margery Fisher

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The successive stages in Sid's attitude to the animals [in The Battle of Bubble and Squeak]—enthusiasm, indifference, a fury of protectiveness, desperate misery—accompany and give point to each chapter of this small, significant domestic drama. There is enough colour and movement in the narrative, enough precise detail of sound, venue and personality, to hold the reader's attention. There is, though, much more. Alice Sparrow's reaction to the gerbils, a necessary guiding line for the plot, is also part of a silent, secret, continuing battle between this house-proud, inhibited woman and her warm-hearted second husband, who once kept white mice and whose sympathy with the children involves him in divided loyalties. This is no deep marital probe but a suggestion of family tensions as quiet and inexorable as the definition of parental roles in that memorable short story, "In the Middle of the Night". Philippa Pearce has always written expandable books, direct and open in style, simple in plot, but with so much in them of wisdom and humour that they offer new insights at every reading. Her new story could be understood and greatly enjoyed by children as young as seven or eight, as the tale of a pair of gerbils and their disruption of the family life of the Parkers and Sparrows. But when one has said that, one has only just begun. (p. 3415)

Margery Fisher, "Points of Intersection," in her Growing Point, Vol. 17, No. 4, November, 1978, pp. 3414-19.∗