Reviewed by DOREEN FROST It seems to be an accepted fact, nowadays, that the modern child's tastes have changed, He plays with more and more ingenious toys, and the old games of " Let's Pretend " are forgotten. There may be some truth in that, but where reading is concerned, the younger generation still read books that are simply written and have a good story to tell.
On booksellers' shelves can still be seen the bright covers of Shock-Headed Peter, Little Black Mambo, Josephine and Her Dolls and Peter Pan. They are a gay cavalcade that shows no sign of fading as the years roll on. The stories of Hans Andersen still net as a Magic Carpet and even the most sophisticated child is touched by the sad little Match Girl or the little Mermaid. It is upon these well-thumbed books, passed down the family, that the foundations of literary appreciation are founded. But once the child is nine or so, he is even more eternally curious, and he'll want to go on from there, leaving nursery stories behind him. Now is your opportunity to guide his tastes in a subtle way.
The nine-year-old is a little young to start on the stiffer classics, but an attractively produced David Copperfield or Old Curiosity Shop would be ideal. and he could start a collection, adding to the same series at birthdays or Christmas. Girls will want school and adventure stories, and animal tales, and here Black Beauty cannot be surpassed. Boys are happy only with stories of the sea and sail, science in its simpler forma. and adventure.
How They Sent The News. by J. Walker McSpadden (Ilarrap, 7s. 6d.) tells how messages have been sent throughout the ages, touching on the wall writings on caverns in southern France, and the drums of Africa which have beaten out code messages for hundreds of years. The last chapters are devoted to the invention of semaphore, and telephone, telegraph and radio. It is an absorbing book for all ages, illustrated by fine photographs, and brought out unwittingly to intrigue the whole family.
Robber Castle, by Diana Pares (Harrap, 3s. 6d.) is the type of book that is bound to foster international friendship and good feeling among the youngsters, and few things are more important than that, these days" the child is father to the man" . . This is the story of a boy and girl sent to school in Germany. They mix with the peasant children, finding themselves perfectly at home, the alien feeling vanishing almost at once. There is plenty of adventures for them, a hunt for hidden treasure, imprisonment in the castle dungeons, and the tale ends with a fight with jewel thieves.
The Lonely Dog, by A. C. Bellerby (John Miles, 2s. 6c1.) is the true story of Bob, who was Almost A Mongrel, and was lost for a week. Seven days seemed like seven years before he regained confidence in people and found his master. There's so much human appeal in this book that I couldn't get away from it, and I am sure that whatever child this book is bought for, the parents will monopolise it first.
Digging for History, by G. B. Harrison (Nelson, 3s. 6d.) is an addition to the attractive new Horizon Series. It's a fascinating book, describing the discoveries at Ur of the Chaldees, the Tomb of Tut-AnkhAmen in Egypt, of Pompeii and Nineveh. There is a lot of space given, too, to everyday life in Britain during the Roman Occupation, and the pages are full of human and interesting little facts, such as how fruit stones were found sticking to bowls in an excavated Roman house in Berkshire. and fish scales in the market place of Pompeii. Here again, the family will revel in this as much as Father Christmas, who will inevitably slow down the reindeers to finish it before he goes down the chimney
(Sheed and Ward, 3s. 6d.) makes its appearance because the two preceding "Six °Via& " Books so delighted the young and the parents of those who haveto-be-read-to. These are mostly legendary stories, written with such a sympathetic touch and sense of humour that the young saints seem very ordinary and lovable young people. As the title of the series suggests, it is just the sort of book to read before bedtime.