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Puck of Pook's Hill

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,726 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
A pair of children happen across an ancient shrine, where they conjure up an impish sprite named Puck, who treats them to a series of tales about Old England. Rudyard Kipling, the storyteller behind Puck's fables, lived in the East Sussex region of Pook's Hill. To amuse his children, Kipling created these quasi-historical stories about the people who lived in their neighbo ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 27th 2006 by Dover Publications (first published 1906)
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J.G. Keely
May 05, 2012 J.G. Keely rated it really liked it
The more familiar I become with Kipling's many short, fantastical works, the clearer it becomes that almost every fantasy author of the past century owes him a great debt. I have pointed out before that he has written works which lay out whole subgenres--blueprints which later authors like C.S. Lewis, H.P Lovecraft, Neal Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke have expanded upon.

And in this collection, we can see yet another branch of influence. In several stories spanning centuries of English history, Kipli
Dec 07, 2015 Monica rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A pair of children happen across an ancient shrine, where they conjure up an impish sprite named Puck, who treats them to a series of tales about Old England.

Expect the unexpected with Puck (from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream") as your guide. Characters from various periods of history make appearances, and tell their wondrous tales. Be wary not to be magicked by Puck's "Oak, and Ash, and Thorn", lest you forget the story.
Feb 23, 2011 Hazel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Nostalgia seekers
Such a delight. I can't wait 'til my niece is old enough for this. I've revisited a number of childhood reads in recent weeks, and this is the one that has worn best. I imagine that says something about my penchant for whimsy and nostalgia. There's nothing sophisticated about Kipling's take on what made Britain great, but for some reason I can overlook all his failings as he uses fairy tales as illustration for a history lesson. I can even tolerate the AntiSemitism. Go figure.
Sep 02, 2012 dragonhelmuk rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James Lyon
Oct 29, 2012 James Lyon rated it it was amazing
If you like Harry Potter, this book is for you!

The British have a wonderful tradition of excellent adult authors writing fantasy children’s books that are also fun reads for adults. J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter”, C.S. Lewis’ "Alice in Wonderland" and "Chronicles of Narnia", and J. M. Barrie’s "Peter Pan" all spring to mind. Even J.R.R. Tolkien’s "Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" were YA accessible and appropriate. But who would have thought Rudyard Kipling falls into this category?

The book Puck o
Apr 19, 2011 Melinda rated it really liked it
Written by Rudyard Kipling to amuse his children, this book is a wonderfully entertaining little gem. A brother and sister stumble across Puck, the woodland sprite of English mythology also known as Robin Goodfellow. (Those up on Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night Dream" will recognize Puck as the jester to the King of the Fairies, Oberon). Puck teaches them about Old England from the time of William the Conqueror, to the Roman's guarding Hadrian's Wall against the PIcts, and even into the court ...more
Mary Findley
Oct 05, 2011 Mary Findley rated it it was ok
This is a children's story intending to teach some English history in an entertaining fashion, and it does a really good job of that. Certainly his child audience was a lot better educated than our sis today for the most part. The language and imagery is rich, even when he's not writing actual poetry. I found his religious perspective very disturbing, however, as I always do with Kipling. He is a humanist, but he also claims that Protestantism was an evil bringer of destruction and hatred to Eng ...more
Nov 22, 2008 Res rated it liked it
Shelves: sff
The one where two children meet Puck, the last fairy remaining in England, and he introduces them to dead Saxons, Normans, Romans, and stories that tell of British history.

Alas for period prejudices. The story starts with the tale of Weland Smith and the sword he made, and then introduces you to charming people from various historical periods, with mostly-lovely poetry between the sections -- and just about the time you're going, "Oh, ooh, all this is going to add up to the Magna Carta," in walk
Griselda Heppel
Jan 21, 2016 Griselda Heppel rated it liked it
This is a charming runthrough of English history, sparked by the conceit of two children, Dan and Una, managing (by mistake) to conjure Puck up one midsummer night's eve. The playful fairy proceeds to entertain them by bringing to life a range of characters: Weland the legendary smith to the gods; Sir Richard Dalyngridge, a Norman knight from William the Conqueror's army; Parnesius, a centurion guarding Hadrian's Wall; and several more. The children are enthralled by this magical way of learning ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Jefferson rated it really liked it
Puck of Pook's Hill (1906) is Rudyard Kipling's paean to England and history and youth, as Puck, "the oldest Old Thing in England," introduces to two children, siblings Dan and Una, various figures and events from throughout three thousand or so years of British history.

The first of the ten tales in the book features Puck's account of the advent, worship, and end of pagan Gods in Britain, focusing on one in particular, Weland, Smith of the Nordic Gods. In the second through fourth stories, the
Dec 04, 2014 Adam rated it liked it
Puck is a fairy, but this is only nominally a fairy story. He exists in the story only as a framing device, summoning warriors from across Britain's noble history to tell exciting tales of valor and deceit to a pair of dumbshit aristocratic children. It's a concept so similar to the premise of Holdstock's Mythago Wood that I at least wouldn't be surprised to learn he was inspired by it. But unlike Holdstock's culture heroes, Kipling's figures come from some mellowing afterlife campfire. They all ...more
May 03, 2014 Constance rated it liked it
The trickster is a familiar figure in many literary traditions, but in the English fairytale lore it wears a largely benevolent face. Puck of Pook's Hill may be strange and surprising, but he is a friend of small children and a jolly old fellow with a merry old tale, fol-de-rol and all that. Thinking about it, in most of the traditional English tales I have read, characters tend to be more clear-cut good or decidedly bad. Sometimes a seemingly good character may have been deceitful, or a bad cha ...more
Mar 02, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Enchanted by the theatre, Dan and Una decide to recreate their own version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Finding the perfect spot, an old fairy ring, they set about their play, and are so enchanted that they perform it three times in a row. After a final bow, they sit down in the centre of the fairy ring - whereupon, the bushes part and Puck enters, stage left. Using his fairy magic, Puck then conjures up the past to entertain the two amazed children - a Roman centurion, a Renaissance artisan an

Jul 24, 2015 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave this a 5 because I know my younger self would have - the one who loved Narnia and anything about time travel, fairies, England, and/or Midsummer Night's Dream.

But I did love this. It was such a wonderful surprise. Two very literate open-minded children meet Puck who introduces them to three notable individuals from England's past - a Norman who came over with William the Conqueror, a British/Roman centurion from the Isle of Wight and a Spanish Jew who is integral in the shaping of the Mag
Aug 13, 2015 Christina marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, juvenile
I've loved Kipling's other books--"Kim", "The Jungle Books" and "Just So Stories." But I just couldn't get into this one. Part of it was a lack of familiarity with the British history that would have been familiar to the children for whom it was written. But it was also due to the narrative filters between the reader and the action. Rather than reading a story as it happens, this is a collection of tales that we hear through two children who are hearing someone recount them--stories that are thi ...more
Andrew McClarnon
Feb 25, 2014 Andrew McClarnon rated it liked it
I've wanted to read this book since it came up in a discussion the density of history in Britain )ie, how places show the traces of their history. I visited Kipling's house in Sussex a few years ago, and can see how elements from these stories were inspired by that house and its surroundings.

It is a collection of stories and poems that reflect in some way the history of that landscape, but venture away in both geography and fantasy. The stories also feel like they were written to be read aloud,
Feb 11, 2009 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, classics, paranormal
Two early 20th century children, living in Pevensey, England, have a chance encounter with the legendary Puck, who undertakes to bring them a series of first hand accounts of the history of their region. Fun combination of fact and fancy.
Jul 29, 2014 Georgina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. I only wish it were longer...
May 11, 2012 Glas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently listened to the Librivox audio of Puck of Pook's Hill, which reminded me again how much I love Rudyard Kipling.
PJ Jumonville
Dec 18, 2007 PJ Jumonville rated it really liked it
Dad read it to me as a child - sparked my love of all things both historical and English phase.
Catherine Hill
Oct 05, 2007 Catherine Hill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
This is charming English history for kids and people who have been taught history is boring.
Mar 13, 2016 Kay rated it it was amazing
Read this because Mrs. Ali was reading it in Major Pettigrew's Last Stand--learned about Bath Oliver biscuits, and that the salt in an envelope taken on the walk along with hard-boiled eggs is not for the eggs but for the biscuits (!), but much more, learned again and easily all about the early history of Britain, which is what children learn from this fairy tale of short stories -- so worth the detour to read through. Can imagine assigning it to a high school or college history or literature cl ...more
Mar 28, 2015 Jason rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, kids-ya, classics
I've read a lot of Kipling's work lately, and the depth, complexity, and artistry of his writing has left me amazed and grateful that I made the decision to pick up so many of his stories.

Puck of Pook's Hill falls is one of those stories. Essentially Puck of myth and legend visits two children, siblings, and gifts them with tales of Britain's history from the days of the Roman Empire to medieval times to the 1400s using the ghosts of individuals who might be historical (I'm not British history
When three children perform Midsummer Night's Dream three times, they accidentally open up the fairy mound behind them, but the only fairy left is Puck, the first fairy ever to come to England. He introduces them to several people from history, who relate their tales. There's Wayland, who came as a god and left as a blacksmith. There's Sir Richard, a Norman who conquered a Saxon estate with kindness and hard work, then he and a friend were captured by Vikings and taken on an amazing adventure to ...more
Aug 07, 2009 rr added it
This is an odd book! Kipling presents us with two small children, Dan and Una, who meet Puck once their abbreviated outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream frees the good fellow from centuries of bondage in the hills. In a series of episodes Puck introduces Dan and Una to a variety of figures from different historical periods. Dan and Una are made to forget each encounter, but readers acquire a layered view of Britain's past and the diversity of people who over time have identified them ...more
Feb 29, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As one might expect from Rudyard Kipling, the language in this book is clean and energetic. The basic story is surprisingly complex, though it seems simple on the surface. One midsummer's day, two children reenacting a scene from Shakespeare conjure up a being from the deep past - Puck, or Robin Goodfellow himself. Over the coming months, Puck shows Dan and Una scenes from the history of their house, beginning with the forging of a sword by the mythical Wayland Smith, and ending with the loss of ...more
Simon Mcleish
Sep 11, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in October 2000.

Of the classic children's books written by Rudyard Kipling, Puck of Pook's Hill has perhaps dated the most obviously. It remains a charming idea, much copied, but so much about it is a celebration of Victorian country life that in many ways it is not very relevant to the children of today. The idyllic upper class childhood of Dan and Una, full of enchanting places to play, has probably never existed outside fiction, and to be a child in the co
May 28, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2011
I hadn't read any Kipling in a loooong time, but I got turned onto Peter Bellamy's text settings of his poems, and I remembered that he also wrote books. Puck of Pook's Hill reminded me a little of Watership Down, successful with the kind of pastoral charm that usually gives me a toothache, but it was also very dated. The conceit is that a brother and sister encounter Puck one Midsummer Day, and he brings them people from history to tell them the stories of their little corner of England. I like ...more
Courtney Johnston
Feb 25, 2012 Courtney Johnston rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, own, history, poetry
Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies are two collections of children’s stories, based on English folktale and history. As stories, none are nearly as funny or moving as anything from the Jungle Book or the Just So Stories, but on re-reading them I was really struck by how the collections are structured.

There is the basic structure - two collections of about a dozen stories each, in which each story is bookended by two connecting poems. But then there’s a series of layers across the storie
Gabriel Salter
Aug 25, 2015 Gabriel Salter rated it really liked it
The only thing I have against this book is that it is definitely the kind of book you have to read from cover to cover (stop reading this book and picking up again months later and trust me, it won't make much sense at first). It's an intriguing, interesting children's fantasy book that cannot be analyzed, because there really is nothing nothing grand theme being examined here. It's just good old-fashioned fairy stories, told by one of the English language's great storytellers.
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Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907 "in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author."

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“Cites and Thrones and Powers
Stand in Time's eye
Which daily die;
But, as new buds put forth
To glad new men,
Out of the spend and unconsidered Earth,
The cities will rise again”
More quotes…