By Gerard Loughlin
Jackson's Holiday by Brian Ball (Antelope Books £1.25) If you like cats — and I do — then you will not be able to resist this further adventure of the everresourceful cat Jackson. His winter holiday at Red Bank Farm turns out to be not so much a holiday but "an interesting time", as Jackson says, aptly demonstrating his generosity, for he had to contend with a hungry food thief!
The dialogue between the cats is very good, especially that between Jackson and the cat from next door but one, Marilyn — witty, and though of course written for six to nine year olds, most cat-like.
With a strong plot, humour, and obvious talent, Brian Ball has written an excellent little book. The tone of the story is attractively caught in the illustrations by The Second Book of Pony Stories edited by Christine PulleinThompson (Piccolo 45p)
There are those who like pony stories and there are those who do not. t belong to the latter category.
However, for those little girls addicted to them (I've never heard of little boys being so — and the vast majority of these stories are aimed at girls) this book will provide u sufficient source of sentimental pony story material whose main aim is the adulation of the horse, presenting that animal in a romanticisied and sickening light.
This type of story is particularly distasteful, and particularly successful — and no doubt there are those who on reading this will run out and buy a copy.
The Boy From Sula by Lavinia Derwent (Piccolo 45p) This is the third story about Magnus Macduff and his life on the Scottish island of Sula to be published by Piccolo.
The cliché-ridden plot of the beautiful island threatened by the nasty London developer is saved by the vivid characters, especially the effervescent Jinty Cowan.
There are, however, flaws: the existence of village shop, school, and church call for more islanders than the handful we are presented with, a few of whom, such as the Duke are ton naive in conception to be credible.
Apart from this and the awful illustrations, which totally fail to portray the beauty of Sula, of which . we are constantly told (though the descriptions are not convincing), the book is enjoyable. For children aged 8 to 12.
Tuppenny Brown by Eve Sutton (Antelope Books 11.25) This is one of the best stories to appear in the Antelope series. Tuppenny Brown, pickpocket, vividly narrates how in 1842 he was given a second chance, released from prison, and put on board the St George for New Zealand.
What awaits him? A new life but Jake, his old partner in crime, has also been sent to New Zealand.
With _a fine sense of place and period, perfectly attuned to her young readers, Eve Sutton has combined an exciting tale with a nice study of character development. The illustrations by Paul Wright are excellent.