Page 8, 25th November 1966

25th November 1966
Page 8
Page 8, 25th November 1966 — A mixed bag of excellent stories
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A mixed bag of excellent stories

RICHARD MANSFIELD

said, "I love children. They do not prattle of yesterday; their interests are all of today and the tomorrows —I love children."

Most others who have seen their children off to school still have to cater for the interests of those not yet quite old enough for school, but still with ebullient interests of today and very many tomorrows.

For this very reason it is good to be able to recommend an excellent mixed hag of books.

Prince Rabbit and The Princess Who Could not Laugh, by A. A. Milne. is a large beautifully produced hook with excellent illustrations in full colour by Mary Shepard.

"Prince Rabbit" is an amusing and unusual story which held me throughout with its quality and interest. A few slight qualms were evident when I saw I was dealing with a Rabbit until I realised that this one was one in a million which quickly endears itself to the reader.

The story is the well-tried appealing favourite of the childless King and Queen of the "one upon a time" era. The succession must be decided by open competition and one of the aspirants is the Rabbit.

Delightful illustrations follow the determined and finally victorious Rabbit whose exploits bring him his due reward and thanks to a most obliging magician, all ends happily.

The Princess Who Could not Laugh is perhaps even more enjoyable because of the continuous vein of sheer fun running through it as efforts are made to make the solemn and most practical Princess laugh.

1 read this to a lively (mixed) class of 8-year-olds and their spontaneous comments clinch the matter: "It was a very funny story and it was interesting all through. 1 wish I could hear it again. I think the colours are very beautiful."

Although the theme is not new, that of numerous attempts by two contenders to make the solemn Princess laugh and by so doing, win her hand, the piece de resistance is undoubtedly Count Hoppo's butter-slide; will the Princess succumb to it? How, in fact, she does makes very funny reading.

It is interesting to note that these two little-known stories (published by Kaye Ward, I 5s.) were written before Milne's famous Christopher Robin books or the period of writing which culminated in Winnie the Pooh,

In completely different vein The Green Children, by Kevin Crossley-Holland (and published by Macmillan, 15s.) is an exciting and fascinating folk-tale set long centuries ago in the reign of King Stephen, in Suffolk.

A strange, almost weird thing happens. Two young children, brother and sister, are found huddling fearfully in a wolfpit. Their hair is green, their skin is green and they are wearing green clothes.

They are inarticulate and obviously terrified. but the rough-and-ready cotters and villeins who find them are gentleness itself and take them to their lord and master.

There. in the Great Manor of Sir Richard de Caine, food is set before them, but they refuse all of it until, quite by chance, a passing servant lets fall some freshly cut beans complete with stalks.

These the children devour and are soon well on the way to recovery as their daily ration of green beans is supplied, but the language problem takes longer to overcome.

D. Maclean




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