Page 8, 3rd December 1954

3rd December 1954
Page 8
Page 8, 3rd December 1954 — By Daniel Counihan
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THE CROC CRIED1

A BOOK for older children,

Make Doll's Clothes I have every

By Daniel Counihan r-lwelcome in the Christmas season, is a really good family story, The Bell Family, by Noel Streatfield. This kind of tale is popular just now, and the families in them are usually obviously "nice people"gentle, honourable, kind, cheerful, selfsacrificing and so on. But few of their authors ever state uncompromisingly that they are meant to he Christian, or connect them with religion even in passing; so one is left to suppose that all their virtues spring from sheer, innate decency. Do these writers secretly fear that religion is "bad box-office"? If they do, then Miss Streatfield may persuade them otherwise, for her Bells are the family of a Church of England clergyman, It is quite clear that his "business" means more in their lives than just bread and butter, and yet their problems and adventures have delighted thousands already on the B.B.C. "Children's Hour," and will certainly delight thousands more as a book. Stories which take the reader overseas are also fashionable, but recently most of them, though exciting enough. have really had little to do with the countries in which they were set. One felt "it might have happened anywhere." Daphne Rooke's The Australian Twins is an exception in that Australia makes the story and is not merely the backcloth. Olivia Fitzroy's The Island of Birds takes us excitingly to a western isle beyond the Outer Hebrides. For the growing army of young bird-watchers it has special interest, but it will also hold the attention of those for whom birds are little more than a noise in the morning. Raymond Sheppard's beautiful illustrations are some of the best I have seen in a children's book for a long time, Among the best hooks for slightly younger children arc Naomi Mitchison's Grime and the Dragon, very funny improbabilities shout a little boy who found a baby dragon, and The Brownies and Other Stories, a charming reprint of some of the hest of Mrs. Ewing, who should be part of everybody's childhood, The latter book includes two of the absolute "musts," "Timothy's hut credible Irish child, and Mary D. 11 il I yard's Minlkin's New Mete, about an English one who is no milk-sop either. But the hooks are very different. When Molly-o tears her knickers she cannot go out and ride the donkey, and we arc told the whole sad tale. I expect Minikin tears hers sometimes, too, but she certainly has a spare pair, and equally certainly Miss Hillyard would be reticent. Parents must make up their own I liked also H. Lane Joynt's Molly-o, about a harum-scarum

THE BELL FAMILY, by Noel

Streatfield (Collins, As. 6d.). THE AUSTRALIAN TWINS, by Daphne Rooke (Cape, 6s.). THE ISLAND OF BIRDS. by Olivia Fitzroy (Cape, 9s. 6d.). GR/EME AND THE DRAGON, by Naomi Mitchison (Faber, 95. 6d.).

THE BROWNIES AND OTHER STORIES, by Mrs. Ewing (Dent's "Children's Illustrated Classics," Rs. 6d.), MOLLY-0. by H. Lane Joynt (Faber, 6s. 6d.).

MINIKIN'S NEW HOME, by Mary D. H Il 1 yar d (Dent, 7s. 6d.). A STORY A DAY, by Doris Rust (Faber, 6s. 6d.). JONATHAN ON THE FARM, by Mary Coekett (Harrap, 45. fid.).

AKOO AND THE SAD SMALL ELEPHANT and AKOO AND THE CROCODILE W H (I CRIED, both by Dorothy Craigie (Max Parrish, 2s. 6d. each). 1 8 0 GAMES FOR ONE P I. A E R. by J. B. Pick (Phcenix House, 10s, 6d.). HOW TO MAKE DOLL'S CLOTHES, by Emily R. Dow (Thames & Hudson, 8s, 6d.). MACHINES WHICH SEEM TO THINK, by Marie Neurath (Max Parrish. 68.).

I-SPY ANNUAL ("News Chronicle," 5s.). THE TOM MERRY'S OWN, by Martin Clifford and others (M andeville Publications, 10s. 6d.).

minds about which school they prefer.

the smallest children, I OR 'recommend Doris Rust's A Story a Day and Mary Cockett's Jonathan on the Farm. because I am sure they will enjoy them. I write this while fighting down my shameful loathing as an ordinary father for the exemplary and meticulously welt-ordered parents in all books of this kind. I feel have more in common with the West African father in two new picture hooks by Dorothy Craigie, Akoo and the Sad Small Elephant and Akoo and the Crocodile who Cried. "He," we are told, "put Akpo across his knee and smacked him till it hurt." But it is not only because of this cautionary tale that I am giving these pretty little hooks to my own smallest

son.

It is a good year for how-todo, how-to-make and how:itworks hooks. One I should like to keep, but srobably have begged from me, is J. H. Pick's 180 Carnes for One Player. Even if I nelayed the gaine.s, I should enjoy reading Mr. Pick's engaging asides and footnotes, With Emily R. Dow's How to hope of inducing some long periods of heavenly quiet at home this winter; and during some of these I may occasionally allow a small. boy to astonish me with gleanings from Machines Which Seem to Think. This is Marie Neurath's latest success in explaining complicated scientific matters so that even I can understand them, and is as nice looking as all the other Parrish colour hooks, Two very different annuals pleased me. I-Spy Annual is a beautiful piece of modern printing and layout, and astounding value at the price. Its stories are by good present-day writers, and there are well-illustrated articles on such diverse subjects as ballet, space-ships and how to train a Puppy. A la recherche du temps perdu, I positively gloated over The 'Tom Merry's Own. Despite an irrelevant picture of delta-wing aircraft, I found it had the essential rich ingredients of the old Holiday Annual, and that Bunter. D'Arcy, Hurree Jamset Ram Singh and the rest held me as of old. feel I can safely commend it to most fathers, and they can let their sons decide for themselves.

DESPERATE JOURNEY, by Henry Treece (Faber, Ns, 6d.).

HERE is a rather slow-moving story of adventure set in the hills of Shropshire. A young man, fed up with working in his father's firm, sets out to make his fortune on the roads, wearing, "by pure chance," nailed boots, a sturdy tweed jacket, a handknitted pullover, worsted trousers and a pair of good, thick socks. All goes well, and our hero is strolling merrily along, cadging lifts and looking for a job to keep himself in funds, when, all of a sudden, he is pulled roughly into a ditch fly the odd-looking tramp with whom he has been walking. A long, low, smooth. grey car whizzes past, raking the ditch with bullets as it goes . • . A lengthy, fairly exciting chase ensues, involving secret atomic papers. a most unlikely sounding clergyman who shows a very unholy acquaintance with the art of strangling-in a book designed for people under 20 this is the only faintly objectionable episode -and some good descriptions of boxing in a travelling circus. Somewhere along the way the hero falls in love, which again seems a pity, but only because, in a book of this kind, it holds Up the action. During the second World War and after, an unspoken ban was laid by boys all over England on Messrs. Biggies, Gimlet and Dick Barton falling in love in any shape or form. I felt throughout Desperate Journey that if the hero had followed this example, he might have got those




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