24 April 2014, The Tablet

How Did Long John Silver Lose his Leg? and twenty-six other mysteries of children’s literature

by Dennis Butts and Peter Hunt

Stories behind the stories

Reviewed by Nicholas TuckerLUTTERWORTH, 154pp, £18 Tablet bookshop price £16.20 Tel 01420 592974 Writers of books about children’s literature tend to be over-earnest, perennially conscious of the possible scorn of those adult readers who have decided to put all aspects of this subject well behind them. Dennis Butts and Peter Hunt do better, mixing scholarship with a more playful approach. Avoiding any of those over-ingenious reinterpretations common among Sherlock Holmes fans, Butts and Hunt concentrate instead on odd facts and unusual queries. Sharing chapters between them, they show how George Orwell got it wrong when he criticised boys’ weeklies for their snobbish- ness, and they wonder how much it matters that in Philippa Pearce’s classic novel Tom&rsquo
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