Archive for Big Readers A place for discussing books and all things bookish.

       Big Readers Forum Index -> Discuss children's books here.

"Puck of Pook's Hill" by Rudyard Kipling

"Puck of Pook's Hill" (1906) by Rudyard Kipling has a charming idea. Dan and Una (based on Kipling's own children) are performing scenes from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Puck suddenly appears before them. In the course of the book Puck introduces the children to a series of characters from English History who lived and flourished in that part of South England.  Each of the characters relates a story from his life.  The children hear tales from a Norman, a Saxon, a Viking, a Roman, smugglers and others.  But the children don't remember what they have just heard because Puck magics them with leaves of oak, ash and thorn.
The book is drenched with Kipling's love of England and English History, and I should imagine that it was his intention to fill his child readers with a similar affection.  Well, I'm not sure about this. It might very well have worked for the designated children in 1906, but I doubt whether the modern child would respond so readily.  Each tale is told to the children by different narrators with interruptions.  There are many many double quotation marks, and I found the stories sometimes hard to follow because of this narrative device.  I thought the best story was "Dymchurch Flit" which is an entrancing tale about how the Fairies - called Pharisees in Sussex - left England when the Catholic religion collapsed in Tudor times and had to hire two boatmen, one blind, one dumb, to sail them to France where Catholicism still flourished.  
The stories are interspersed with poems some of which are famous like 'Harp Song of the Dane Women' and 'Cities and Thrones and Powers' and 'The Smugglers Song' (the one with the line "watch the wall my darling while the gentlemen go by") and my favourite one at the beginning of the book "Puck's Song" beginning "See You The Dimpled Track That Runs...". This one has a tendency to make me cry because it is so deeply infused with a sense of English History.  
I read this in a very nice copy with H.R. Millar's original pictures.

I loved this book as a child, Mike, and still have my copy. Kipling wrote a second part to the story called Rewards and Fairies which both introduces new historical figures and tells more of the ones from Puck of Pook's Hill. It has a very famous and funny story in it about Henry VII.
I visited Kipling's home in the summer and it is very much worth a visit. When he died his one remaining child gave it to the nation as it was, with many personal effects lying around, and so you almost get the feeling he is in the next room. Knowing Puck of Pook's Hill well it was charming to see the surroundings where the adventures were supposed to have taken place.

       Big Readers Forum Index -> Discuss children's books here.
Page 1 of 1
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum