Rewards and fairies
(Rudyard Kipling, 1910)

I've known Puck of Pook's Hill since childhood, but never encountered this sequel until now. Both books use the same device: two children are introduced by Puck's simple magic to a variety of people lifted out of many different periods of English history; and they tell their tales. It's a way of bringing history to life, and it works especially well because of course Kipling had a good imagination and was a good story-teller.

Although the book as a whole seems like a children's book, because of the two children to whom the tales are told, nevertheless they are adult tales of adult affairs, and a modern child would probably find them quite difficult reading — not least because they were first published in 1910, which is history to us now.

The stories in this book seem to me somewhat less memorable than those in Puck of Pook's Hill, but they are much the same kind of thing, so this one is worth reading if you already read and liked the first book. Here we have vivid, authentic-sounding first-person accounts of England around 2000 BC, 1100 AD, 1600 AD, 1800 AD, and other times that are less easy for me to identify; with robust characterization and a variety of emotions.

Written in February 2007