|Banerjee, Jacqueline. Through the Northern Gate:
Childhood and Growing Up in British Fiction, 1719-1901 (New York: Lang,
Banerjee commends Kingsley’s unsentimental, positive, and far from
frightening portrayal of child death in The Water-Babies. However,
she considers the end when Tom and Ellie are brought back to land “a let-down”
Beer, Gillian. “Kingsley: 'pebbles on the shore',”
Listener Vol. 93 (17 April, 1975): 506-7.
Beer briefly considers Kingsley’s views on the importance of catering
to children’s imaginative needs. She reviews certain attributes of
Water-Babies. It is distressful, very funny, and full of social
and political digressions; some of its episodes are cruel and make us wince;
it is very sensual and crammed with physical experiences. She discusses
the important role aspects of evolutionary theory play throughout the work.
“It is hard, I think, to over-emphasise the richness of Kingsley’s recognition
of mythic elements in the ideas of development and mutation, of ‘metamorphosis’
as Darwin sometimes calls it . . .” In addition, complementing physical
transformation, moral transformation, the responsibility of the individual
himself, is a very significant theme in the work. Beer also stresses
that Mother Carey is a female principle of creativity, as opposed to the
more usual male God. Because of the occurrences of child death in
Water-Babies Beer views it as a kindertotenlied, “another of
those attempts to give meaning to the death of children, so deeply and
terribly needed by the Victorians” (507).