Unusual emotional range

Illustration for ‘The Reed Girl’ by Jan Pieńkowski

The Kingdom Under the Sea
and other stories by Joan Aiken.
Pictures by Jan Pieńkowski.
Puffin Books, 1973 (1971).

Morals are the standards by which a society or community lives by, or claims it lives by. Sometimes that morality becomes institutionalised, sometimes even stultifying, politicised, restrictive, but its ultimate aim is selfish: the perpetuation of that society. The fact that some of the hallmarks of morality — altruism and charity and compassion, for example — make individuals feel good about themselves and others shows perhaps that collectivism and individualism aren’t necessarily incompatible, and that the resulting symbiosis is good for all.

All this is by way of introduction to fairytales in general and The Kingdom Under the Sea in particular.

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