on 31 August 2009
There is something deeply moving about this short story.
I write as an adult, with the same first name, and born the year the book was first published (1962). Forget 'for readers of six and over' in the publisher's notes. This book is profound. I was given a signed copy aged about 8, but never got into it as a children's story - the plot is slight, not much seems to be happening. Only now, in my forties, have I have tracked down another copy and read it - with delight.
Storr was trained in psychiatry before becoming a full-time writer. It shows in the authentic way she gets inside young Robin's head, to reveal his temperament. In him and in the narrative as a whole, there is a satisfying undercurrent of melancholy. Robin finds a kind of redemption as he discovers a personal psychic gift, projected onto a magical shell that he finds one day, whilst searching, as it were, for his place in the world.
People with 'special insight' can tread a lonely path, not easily understood. This is what 'Robin' describes effectively: The simplicity of the words matched by the sparing elegance of the line drawings, and the gentle pastel shades of this paberback edition cover.
Like Robin's shell, this book is a gem worth seeking out.