Frank Cottrell Boyce has written a truly magical review of Philippa Pearce’s posthumously published A Finder’s Magic, a review which reminds us why the best children’s literature is timeless and ageless – in short, magical.
Every ghost story, most religions and a good deal of modern physics are about the persistence of what is past. But hardly anyone has described it so powerfully and eloquently as Pearce did when she wrote the final, hurried meeting between Tom and Hatty [Tom’s Midnight Garden]. Tom discovers that the ghostly girl with whom he has been playing in the supernatural garden is in fact the old lady in the flat upstairs. When I read it as a child, I was appalled by the idea that the attractive young girl could become the old woman. Now I’m older I can see that the scene is full of joy. The old woman had carried these memories in her heart and now there they were, alive again before her. Everyone who has had children knows that this is both commonplace and mysterious. You look into your child’s face and see your own childhood looking back at you, simultaneously infinitely far and near. There’s something beautiful and just about the fact that it was Pearce’s own grandchildren who inspired her to write this last book and that it describes so lucidly the way that art sometimes gives us back what life has taken away.