THE SECRET WORLD OF POLLY FLINT by Helen Creswell

THE SECRET WORLD OF POLLY FLINT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A homely, warming English time-fantasy--being Creswell. Belief that ""anything can happen"" comes to Polly Flint after she ""twizzles""--spins--and sees an angel in the fields. ""Let her have her angel,"" says Dad, a coal miner and rhymester, a fancier of birds and fishing. Then Dad is injured, and laid up; and the Flints move in with Mam's bossy older sister, Aunt Em--at Wellow, with a maypole. Aunt Em will run the house, she makes plain--Mare and Polly, both helpless, giggle together. ""You've got to let her be queen of her own kingdom,"" says Dad. Polly, envisioning magic at word of the maypole, quickly finds it--in Old Mazy's story of a buried village. (""Mazed in the head, of course,"" explains Aunt Em.) And Bufford Park--with its wide, shining lake, its tunneled island--becomes her (picture-mapped) secret kingdom. Hearing that Wellow holds its maypole dance expediently on a Saturday (""No use doing dances for the birds,"" says Aunt Em), Polly rises at dawn on May Day, sees ghostly dancers come--""slipping into the upper world, running free in time."" That motif will contrast, in turn, with Aunt Em's ancestral, unvarying clock: there is perhaps an over-sufficiency of signposts, along with over-tidy plotting. Dad, supine from his injury, makes a May-Day-eve wish with Polly; has word of a promising treatment; departs with Mare. (On the last page, he'll return walking.) Still, the fabric of character-and-incident holds. At an animal graveyard in her kingdom, wondering about ""faithful friend"" Boris, Polly is approached by a shaggy, friendly dog: ""Boz,"" she decides, is less exotic--taking him home, gaining Aunt Em's agreement to keep him. (""Company,"" she knows.) Then ""a boy, right enough"" appears out of the lake, fiddling her maypole song. ""Polly, put the kettle on."" At hand are his father and grandmother, a testy match for Aunt Em--demanding to know if she fed Baggins"" (thus attaching/detaching him), worried that she can see them. . . unable to return to the buried village, through the Time Tunnel, save with a willing someone from the upper world. Boz/Baggins? Polly herself? Or ""The Catcher,"" stalking about with a net--Old Mazy? (A displaced villager, it turns out.) The unraveling will delight time-puzzle enthusiasts--encouraged from the start to identify with Polly, and to sympathize with the inhabitants of both worlds (not least, redoubtable Aunt Em).

Pub Date: March 26th, 1984
Publisher: Macmillan