BOOKS for Young People is the descrip tion of Cassell Caravel Books. This label is more and more applied recently to some of the finest publishing imaginable. It is true to say that never before have such horizons of learning, in the sphere of reading, been available to the younger generation.
It is also fair to assume that these books are being bought or the flood would long ago have ceased and publishers gone Out of busieess. But I wonder if a study has been made to see whether these books are being read.
It will be a sad day when publishers are satisfied to sell their their books irrespective of whether they are read or not. Even "reading" needs qualification for I have the :mpression that they may be "leafed", but this is not reading.
To read an odd chapter here and there will prove of little ultimate value; it will provide a sketchy general knowledge but pose another more serious problem—does this random "dipping" into books rob children of concentration?
A robust blood-curdling story even when it is not by Rider Haggard or Robert Louis Stevenson urges the reader of whatever age-group to finish the story, and so incidentally trains him or her in the art of concentration—to go through with it.
Today's youth is restless because it is not asked for effort, and is not prepared for effort.
Publishers are "with it" but will they ultimately kill reading or is there another way? We glibly speak of challenge to youth. Here is a challenge to the older generation — the publisher — or is the challenge only to the parent?
This is an inept introduction to a number of excellent books for young people, all of which in different ways have much factual and practical educational value.
Last year Jonathan Cape tried an exciting experiment in educational publishing. In their Jackdaw Series prepared by John LangdonDavis history is made to live by means of a collection of contemporary documents. They excite the young student of history to enjoy his studies.
They are 'specifically designed for "dipping" into history. There is little text and the editor suggests the books which should be read in connection with each folder. The books suggested are pretty mature for with Jackdaw No. 5 (The Armada) J. E. Neale's "Queen Elizabeth the First." was suggested. Belloc is not mentioned!
Two others apart from The Armada have been added to the series -"Magna Carta" and, not unnaturally this year, "The Young Shakespeare".
The Cassell Caravel hooks mentioned earlier, and of which three more volumes have recently appeared, are in the conventional book form but of outstanding quality, especially at the price of 21s. each. Lavishly and splendidly illustrated in both black and white and colour, they are a pleasure to read and handle.
The publishers have taken care not only to have authors whose texts measure up to the subject, but they have not spared pains in every facet of production. The three latest titles are: Captain Cook and the South Pacific, Russia Under the Czars and Alexander the Great.
Not up to this very high standard, but nevertheless useful in their own way are two books published by Muller, The Colorado, Mover of Mountains by Alexander L. Crosby, and The Hu& n, River of History by May McNees (12s hd each) It i a . . . s pity that in the latter book a bad printing error should have been allowed to pass the proof-readers.
There is only room barely to mention four other books: Reptiles and Amphibians of the World by Hans Hvass (Methuen 21s.) an encyclopaedic volume with a host of coloured illustrations and text. Caesar's Gallic War by Olivia Coolidge (Bodley Head 16s.). Rather than term this as a companion to Caesar's own book it would be better to treat it as a prelude, which would do much to dispel the antagonism of so many beginners in Latin.
The Second World War by R. R. Sellman is a "Methuen Outlines" book (15s.). In just over one hundred pages the author provides what the series sets out to do, to put the subject in perspective.
Finally, Churches and Public Buildings by Helen Mary Petter (Oxford University Press, 13s. 6d.) is a history of architectural styles in England which will benefit us greatly in appreciating what we see.
These are all hooks adults of any category will like to buy. Will the recipients enjoy reading them? If they do, they will greatly benefit by them. Parents, guardians or teachers may need to make an effort to see that those in their care take advantage of these opportunities, but publishers should not overlook the fact that not all adults have the time or inclination to do SO. Richard Townshend Bickers, both Macdonald, 12s. 6d., and both fine, well produced books.
The latter is a spy story of today and as its author is an R.A.F. pentathlon athlete, it is not surprising that Jagger of the story, also an R.A.F. pentathlon athlete, rings pleasantly true.
When Francois .Mauriac writes for children. the elders sit up and take notice. So will the youngsters, for his The Holy Terror (Cape, 13s. hd.) is of course superbly written.
A governess attempts the reform of a horrible child, made so by his skillfully described and equally peculiar elders. For the 7-10 year olds, the book is not long, and finishes when one would wish it to go on.
The 'group* names of the English alphabet are pure poetry, and the prize-winning children's writer Pauline Clarke noticed that there was one for almost every letter of the alphabet, from a shrewdness of apes to a herd of zebras.
Equal honours with the text must go to her illustrator, Cecil Leslie, and their hook Crowds of Creatures (Faber, 12s. 6d.) is more than value for money in its charm.
For the professor's brainy son there is In Prehistoric Seas by C. L. and M. A. Fenton (Harrap, 12s. 6d.) and Animal Ancestors by S. Cole and M. M. Howard (Phoenix, 13s. 6d.) and for his younger brother Dr. Zim's How Things Grow (World's Work, 10s. hd.).
For anyone's little sister The Dachshunds of Manta Island has something out of the ordinary, both in setting (an Alaskan island) and plot. The author is Florence V. Mayberry, and Janina Domanska drew Jeanne Marie and her seven dogs. (World's Work, 12s. 6d.)