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Queen Mary

Michael Neve, 20 December 1984

A Darker Shade of Pale: A Backdrop to Bob Dylan 
by Wilfrid Mellers.
Faber, 255 pp., £6.95, November 1984, 0 571 13345 2
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by Jonathan Cott.
Vermilion/Hutchinson, 244 pp., £20, October 1984, 0 09 158750 6
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... Amerindian and White Negro’. It is all a bit too much, but at least Mellers takes care, unlike Jonathan Cott in his expensive, over-reverential tome: one more coffee-table book. It may seem a bit Dylanesque (i.e. slightly cruel) but I finished Cott’s book without being able to remember what it had been ...

Exasperating Classics

Patricia Craig, 23 May 1985

Secret Gardens 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen and Unwin, 235 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 04 809022 0
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Reading and Righting 
by Robert Leeson.
Collins, 256 pp., £6.95, March 1985, 9780001844131
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Pipers at the Gates of Dawn 
by Jonathan Cott.
Viking, 327 pp., £12.95, August 1984, 0 670 80003 1
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... Beatrix Potter and her darker allegories (‘Squirrel Nutkin ... external menace ... paranoia’). Jonathan Cott would have done well to take to heart the warning communicated here. Pipers at the Gates of Dawn consists of interviews with six children’s authors and illustrators, and one pair of folklorists (the Opies). ...


Peter Campbell, 5 December 1985

... better analogues of the fantasies of children than the manipulative tales of the child-improvers. Jonathan Cott, who makes more extravagant claims for good children’s books than most, also sees more danger in bad ones. What kind of world is it, he asks, in which a boy’s alternative to television might be ‘a “young adult” novel like Dinky Hocker ...

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