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What children want

I wrote last year that children want to be brave. They sense danger all around them and British children’s authors instinctively understood this, whether writing about hobbits and elves, pirates, Hogwarts, Alice going through the looking glass, an allegorical lion or a family of children messing about with boats.

Children also love to be with other children.

When she was a child, Beatrix Potter rarely saw children. Her only friends were her pet animals - her dog, her rabbits, her frogs, newts, ferrets and her pet bat.

Today in 1893, when she was 27 and on holiday in Scotland, she sent an illustrated story about rabbits to Noel Moore, the five-year-old son of her last governess. There was something truly insightful and loving about that gesture, I think, and children do love to be understood and loved.

Eight years later, Beatrix borrowed her story back, and introduced Peter Rabbit to the world, in 250 privately printed copies since no publisher had been interested in printing The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Because children (and their parents) love animals and bravery and adventures, more than 300 million of her books have been published since then. Sales have paid for the conservation of 4,000 acres in the Lake District - a good place for animals to live and children to play.

There is terror in the world, as children learn when Peter is trapped in one of Farmer McGregor's nets, and comes dangerously close to being turned into a pie. And there is something a child can do about it.

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Peter’s sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows. Who flew to him in great excitement and implored him to exert himself.

"Exert yourself!" In my experience that is something that children love to learn for by it they become free.

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