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By Noel Perrin

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Probably the best example of this last genre (unless you count Gulliver's Travels itself, and you shouldn't, because it wasn't written for children) is Mistress Masham's Repose. T. H. White published that small gem in 1946. In it, a colony of Lilliputians that was brought back to England in Swift's time eventually escaped, and has been living for many generations on an island in a lake on a ducal estate. An orphaned little girl of the ducal family and a wicked clergyman rediscover the colony more or less simultaneously, and sharp adventures follow.

They may well get a copy for their own unhappy Kevin. There's more. The parents may be trying to improve the child's character. In that case, instead of problem-books they will be giving virtue-books. In Victorian times a virtue-book was apt to stress honesty, hard work, obedience to one's parents. A current virtue-book, while certainly not Page 22 discouraging honesty or hard work or even going to bed at the time set by one's parents, is more apt to stress sensitivity, caring, and openness to new experience.

First, the book creates the wonderful, safe, snug feeling of a happy family. And it does so with utter truth. Edward Frost, the ten-year-old boy who's the main character, is both highly individual and a sort of epitome of boydom, down to his messy room. ) Mrs. Frost, his mother, has plenty of faults, including being a naga sweet-tempered oneand even more virtues. She is a delight to read about. Mr. Frost is a father one would like to have. Page 23 Then there's the plot. Edward's may be a happy family, but that doesn't mean nothing happens.

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A Child's Delight by Noel Perrin

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