I’ve always been interested in classic children’s literature and for that reason I bought a copy of a book called Secret Gardens – a Study of the Golden Age of Children’s Literature by Humphrey Carpeneter, so when I saw this book The Captain Hook Affair by the same author it was a must buy for me, because I also collect different editions of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, so this one sort of fitted into my collection. It was published in 1979 and has drawings by Posy Simmonds, her work is always so recognisable. I managed to buy a fairly cheap second hand copy of it.
As you would expect from a writer who was obviously an expert in children’s literature, Carpenter didn’t waste much time in getting rid of the parents, a must for any successful story.
Lizzie’s father had abandoned his wife and daughter when Lizzie was just 5 years old and since then things had been difficult. There was never any money and when Lizzie’s mother became ill it was decided that Lizzie would have to go into a children’s home until her mother got better.
At the same time Lizzie’s granny started to go downhill fast and when Lizzie was saying goodbye to her, granny asked Lizzie to get something out of a drawer for her. Lizzie was hoping that Granny would give her a bit of the lovely jewellery which she saw there but it was a wee silver pencil which Granny wanted Lizzie to have. Lizzie had never seen anything like it before, it was a propelling pencil and it wasn’t long before Lizzie discovered that if she pointed it at an illustration in a book then she was whisked off into the story.
In this way Lizzie visits the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland and various other stories but it’s the story of Peter Pan and mainly Captain Hook and his pirates who are the main characters.
There’s quite a lot of comedy involved, especially when Dr Max, a child psychologist insists that Lizzie and her friend are suffering from mental problems. He just can’t believe what he sees.
Sadly Humphrey Carpenter died not long ago but he left behind a fair amount of well written books, probably the most well known ones are about Mr Majeika, starring that great Scottish actor Stanley Baxter. Those ones were turned into a TV programme in 1988. My boys loved it when they were wee. Poor Humphrey Carpenter doesn’t even get a mention in the credits of the programme, presumably it was dramatised for TV by someone else.