of I Vo tde refu 1
By Daniel Counillan
THE WORLD WE LIVE IN, by the Editorial Staff of " Life " and Lincoln Barnett, adapted for young readers by Jane Werner Watson (Collins, 30s.).
THE BOOK OF LIFE, The Story of the New Testament, by Daniel-Rops (Burns & Oates, 21..). HERE are two books. utterly different, and yet each setting Out to give young people an explanation of life. Each in its own way deserves high praise. Nature books, books on astronomy, geology. zoology and so on, intended for children, are often given some such title as " The Wonder Book " of this or that. Of all I have seen, this of the " Life " magazine staff is the one which seems most genuinely to stimulate the sense of wonder -that proper, childlike wonder of Stevenson :
" The world is so full of a number of things. I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."
SQUPERBLY detailed and coloured drawings and photographs, and a trim, lucid text that lapses only occasionally into American journalese. tell something here of all the world's beauty, from things small beyond seeing to things large beyond imagining. With a scientific humility corn paratively rare in such books though there are instances in which it presents the " nonproven " as accepted fact-" The World We Live In " explains what is known of the processe, by which God created His uni verse, and in it, a speck which He made habitable for his creatures.
And it faithfully describes the creatures, those species which have vanished, those which yet remain, eliminated or sustained by transcendant order and plan. So clearly is this feeling of order conveyed that for the Catholic reader wonder soon becomes awe. " The heavens arc telling the glory of God ..." And then he may be struck, as I was, with the fact that here is a careful, beautiful, truth-seeking book, which is really all about God, and it doesn't mention Him once.
IT wasn't to be expected, of
course. But any Catholic giving the book as a present will want to impress on the very lucky child that it only answers the question, " How 2 " And if he's rich, he'll do well to give Daniel-Rop's book at the same time; for this answers the much more important questions, " Who ? " and " Why ? It is much more than a Life of Our Lord in easy language. It is an explanation of the Redemption in the Divine plan, in the form of an exciting story.
It has the clarity and learning one would expect from a MCMber of the French Academy; but it is also compelling narrative. it is a pretty book, and Fritz Kredel's drawings and plans are suitable and decorative. Donal O'Kelly's translation strikes no awkward note and is presumably good.
SONS OF THE STEPPE, by Hans Baumann, translated Isabel and Florence McHugh (Oxford University Press. 12s. 6d.).
THIS story attracted me hemcause its gifted translators also gave us Fritz Miihlenweg's Big Tiger and Christian. which never tire of recommending. I recommend this. too. It has a similar setting-the Gobi Desert and the Asian Steppes -and tells of Genghis Khan and the great days of the Mongol horsemen, with plenty of exciting incident, as well as the generous ration of authentic-sounding detail which all the best historical stories ought to have. The Misses McHugh have again done their author proud, and so has the illustrator, Heiner Rothfuchs.
COBBLER'S LUCK, by Patricia l.nch (Burke, 9s. 6d.),
FIONA LEAPS THE BONFIRE, by Patricia Lynch (Dent, 12s. 6d.).
MISS LYNCH'S wild fancy is inexhaustable and always wholly her own. Perhaps it is true that she has found a formula, and is working it hard, but her results retain a mysterious sparkle. "Fiona Leaps the Bonfire " is certainly within the formula.
Miss Lynch knows that fantasy. to convince, must be anchored to the Normal, and it is with a cosy, family atmosphere-an Irish cosiness of the storm shut out-that this story starts. But soon we are in a magic world of Ireland's remote past. half history, half myth, yet made utterly real by skilful story-telling.
" Cobbler's Luck ", a book of short stories. is earthier for the most part. But there are some wonderful characters, tinkers, farmers, people at fairs, " travelling men that are parted from their money ", and some old favourites, including Brogeen the Leprechaun.
MR. PALENDOG ABOUT TOWN, by Katherine Fielding Barnsley (Hutchinson, I0s. 6d.) MR. PALEY is a Chow, and he was given his name because he was the same colour as pale ale. He only started off as a town dog, and this story is about the adventures that made him a country dog in the end. For children who like this kind of thing, this example will bf found as good as most. It is quite well written. and Mr. Paley is quite like a real dog at times. But for what it is, it seems a little expensive.
TIM HOOLEY'S HERO, by Dorothy Craigie (Max Parrish, 7s. 6d.).
THIS is more robust and, perhaps, slightly older in appeal than Dorothy Craigie's usual picture books. But the drawings are well up to her usual standard of decorative gaiety. The story tells how Tint -who is rather like Richmal
Crompton's William and his three friends try to capture an escaped convict. and some odd misunderstandings ensue.
THE LITTLE IAMB OF BETHLEHEM, by Margaret Tempest (Medici Society, 3s. 6d.).
ASIMPLE text and some pretty, conventional pictures, tell of a little Lamb who was present in the stable at Bethlehem. It's a little oversweet, hut would probably be an acceptable Christmas tree present.