Leon Garfield is an example of what talent can do to a children's book writer: it can drive him out of children's books as he follows the development of his material wherever it takes him, and that is precisely what's happened. The Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris, for instance, has to be considered as an adult book. Comedy is a serious business in that it relies on dead accuracy of insight—the laughs don't happen unless we recognize ourselves and others in each situation. And the depth of recognition for Adelaide Harris requires adult experience.
Garfield's outstanding characteristic has always been energy and exuberance, his gusto in using words; and this has sometimes led him into...
(The entire section is 458 words.)