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The Children’s Book of Comic Verse 
edited by Christopher Logue.
Batsford, 160 pp., £3.95, March 1980, 0 7134 1528 2
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The Children’s Book of Funny Verse 
edited by Julia Watson.
Faber, 127 pp., £3.95, September 1980, 0 571 11467 9
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Bagthorpes v. the World 
by Helen Cresswell.
Faber, 192 pp., £4.50, September 1980, 0 571 11446 6
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The Robbers 
by Nina Bawden.
Gollancz, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1980, 0 575 02695 2
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... What makes children laugh? First and foremost, disaster – other people’s disasters, naturally. My daughter, at the age of two, was so overcome by the exquisite funniness of her cousin knocking a plate from the table that she lay on the floor and sobbed with laughter. Disaster is, of course, a vital element in farce and clowning, but a child can find humour in the sort of domestic mishap that an adult would have to see on the stage before he could laugh ...

New Guardians of Education

Gillian Avery, 17 July 1980

Racism and Sexism in Children’s Books 
edited by Judith Stinton.
Writers and Readers, 147 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 906495 19 9
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Babies need books 
by Dorothy Butler.
Bodley Head, 190 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 9780370301518
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... The father places his penis in the mother’s vagina.’ Modern prudery shies away, affronted, from this statement in a manual of sex education – not for Dr Bowdler’s reasons, but because the Young Person of today might infer from it that the female role in life is to be passive. Racism and Sexism in Children’s Books, which enshrines this and much other theorising about what should bring a blush to the cheek of the Young Person and, more important, to that of his mentor, is an undistinguished, one might even say dismally puerile, little collection of essays ...

Good as boys

Penelope Fitzgerald, 15 August 1991

The Best Type of Girl: A History of the Girls’ Independent Schools 
by Gillian Avery.
Deutsch, 410 pp., £20, January 1991, 0 233 98642 1
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There’s something about a convent girl 
edited by Jackie Bennett and Rosemary Forgan.
Virago, 217 pp., £4.99, January 1991, 1 85381 308 7
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... You don’t remember the lessons, you remember the teachers. At the heart of Gillian Avery’s book are the distant, half-familiar figures of extraordinary women, pioneers: Frances Buss of North London Collegiate, Dorothea Beale of Cheltenham, Frances Dove of Wycombe Abbey, Lydia Rous of The Mount. ‘A pupil at The Mount remembered saying loudly: “Well, I hate her ...

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