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By Noel Perrin

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He makes it fanciful and a little comic, as when King Midas acquires the golden touch. As for Pegasus, the magical winged horse, Page 28 here he gilds the account with a kind of glory that you will find very few places in literature. The account of the young hero Bellerophon riding Pegasus is perhaps more like the writing of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in Wind, Sand, and Stars than anything else, even though Saint-Exupéry wrote about the early days of aviation from actual experience, and Hawthorne could only imagine what it would be like to soar up on a winged horse.

In 1988 I collected most of these essays in a book called A Reader's Delight, to which you are holding the sequel. In due course that column ended, because I had used up my entire lifetime collection of neglected minor masterpieces. Several years passed. Then the Post invited me to Page xii resume. Only now the column would be called "Rediscoveries for Children," and would draw on an entirely different set of books. Having had first two children of my own and later four stepchildren to read to, and having read aloud for two or three thousand nights so far; having had a mother who wrote books for children, and later a wife who wrote even better books for children; having of course once been a child myself, and one addicted to reading, I have had virtually a whole lifetime in which to learn about marvelous books written for the young.

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. You'll hear more about them a few chapters hence. Page 30 Much cozier and perhaps a little cuter than White, but really just as good, is Mary Norton's series of books about the tiny people called Borrowers.

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A Child's Delight by Noel Perrin


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