Suppose you were to mash up three of the greatest of all children’s fantasies: J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and T.H. White’s “The Sword in the Stone.” This may be hard to imagine, especially for an adult, but something like E.A. Wyke-Smith’s “The Marvellous Land of Snergs” would be the result. Deliciously irreverent in its narration, silly and spooky throughout, and charmingly illustrated by Punch artist George Morrow, this neglected masterpiece remains as winning today as when it was first published in 1927.
Wyke-Smith opens with a description of Watkyns Bay, where scores of children can be glimpsed playing on the sand and in the water. Actually, they can’t be glimpsed because not a single ship, with one exception, has ever entered the bay. Any vessel attempting to do so encounters contrary winds and dangerous waterspouts, these barriers having been set up by the S.R.S.C., the Society for the Removal of Superfluous Children.
The full article is here, but you may have problems accessing it without turning off ad-blocking (or resorting to other trickery).* I subscribed to the Washington Post Book World for many years, until the the Post ceased selling subscriptions. Later they got rid of the section itself and merged it into the Post. So since then I read the book reviews on the web, but lately the Post has been making that more and more difficult. Sometimes one can still find a way in, sometimes not. Too bad. What used to be the best book coverage in the U.S. has been diminished to a ghost of its former self, made easily available only to DC locals.
* I must say that forcing a reader to deal with the glaring annoyances of a HUGE number of advertisements does not seem to me to be the way to go. I mean: I have never clicked on any such intrusive ad (and never will). Don't the advertisers realize that this is the case for 99% of us? There should be better ways to piss away their ad dollars. End of Rant.