For the past two months PAT JONES has been reading her way through the Christmas book lists. Here, now, is her FOR the parent who would like long hours of quiet amidst the Christmas clatter, novels are the thing. They will provide a peaceful oasis in which the child can, ternporarily, lose' himself in an enchanting world.
He can join the five Sicilian children, all in varying degrees of poverty, in Rende Reggiani's deservedly prize-winning story The adventures of five children and a dog (Collins. 13s. 6d.). United by their love of Turi, the good young bachelor who, willy-nilly. seems to acquire a ready-made family of orphans and near-orphans, and the love of music which is their inheritance from Turi, all eventually seek fame and fortune in the cold of Milan.
That they get it goes without question, but their adventures sometimes leave poor Turi's nerves in shreds.
Also to be highly recommended is The Rose Round (Hamish Hamilton, 15s.). This novel will he enjoyed by all older children, but Meriel Trevor's story will be particularly enjoyed by Catholic children. for they will understand the language even better, even if "Mass" has been given a small "m" and the printing of "Our Lady" looks a bit odd.
This fascinating story of a boy spending his holidays at big Woodhall has all the elements of adventure, and the sense of history which surrounds a great family home. but also something more.
There is a little granddaughter. stifled and spoiled by the old French grandmother who has never forgotten, nor forgiven. the loss of her own beautiful little daughter at the age of seven, nor the birth of the present owner of Woodhall, whose deformed limb his angry. bitter mother never lets him forget.
This novel has plot plus depth. the children will enjoy it providing the grown-ups don't get their hands on it first, especially as it includes Ihe story of Matt's practical elder sister, who almost marries the wrong man.
Fro..i the depths of the present-day English countryside to the depths of the Tennessee woods at winter time in pioneer days. William 0 Steele's Winter Danger (Macmillan, 13s. 6d.) is a boy's book, a man's book. and a tomboy's hook, and it rings so true that the reader feels surely the author must be Cale, the boy who hunts the woods with his father.
He braves the savagery of the elements and the Chickamauga Indians (not forgetting wolves, bears and panthers), and then, in the comparative "softness" of a log cabin settlement, finds that one can practically starve in a farmhouse during terrible weather just as certainly in the woods.
Except. that is. for the helping helping hands of neighbours. This, like the other three books, is also a lesson in living.
Odd Boy Out, M. E. Buckingham's Scottish story (Faber, I6s.) begins when George is born. an "after-thought baby", whose older brothers are already married, or on the verge of manhood.
No wonder he is the odd one out, but in the very big farmhouse, with its bigger family, and his dog Shuffleboots, George doesn't feel lonely far from it. He feels frightfully important, which perhaps isn't altogether good for him.
The reader follows his progress, his adventures (which get progressively more hairraising) and sees the moulding of a character. The book, like the others, is fun.
For the godparent who wishes to give a godly gift, what better than Daniel-Rops Golden Legend of Young Saints. Their elders know the author well. and he has not lowered his standards when writing for children.
Published by Geoffrey Chapman at 12s. 6d., who knows what rich harvest that investment may bring?
If the quantity of financial seed to be sown in this way is limited. then we recommend a Dove Rook. These also are published by G, Chapman (35. 6d. each) and combine brilliant colour with a nieY, skilful approach to incidents from the Bible.
They include Jonas, The Lamb of God. David, Jesus by the Lake, Zarchens the publican, and .Balaam and his ass. You pay your money. and take your pick. or better still, take the lot.
For 2s. 6d., Blackie's books of Bible Picture Puzzles are an investment, it would take too long to list the number of games, quizzes, word puzzles, crosswords etc. which fill the pages of these grand little books.
They are for no special age, for the puzzles are graded in difficulty from "joining the dots" to more complex puzzles. Madeleine Mays is the author.
lust once handle Desert Dart by Elizabeth Coatsworth (Harrap, 10s. 6d.) and even before the story grips you, the exquisite illustrations will cast their spell.
There are the baby burro, with its gentle donkey head and eyes escaping from the coyotes to old Desert Dan. whom all animals love, the strange desert scenery, the Pi WC Indian, and the worked out mine with the last family of children.
Author and illustrator here form a wonderful team, cornpleted by the publisher and printer who, sensing this, has not spoiled the ship for a ha'pworth of tar.
For the practical child who likes making and doing there is Murel Goaman's Book of the Year (Faber, I5s.) which will also be enjoyed by the dreamy child who likes reading about things he could be doing if he wasn't so busy reading.
As it contains a wealth of fascinating facts, it will also satisfy his thirst for learning.
The scholar and natural historian will also like Life in the Sea, whose mass of pictures and modicum of words gives a deceptively simple impression.
Ciwynne Vever's book is for the would-be learned. helped on by excellent pictures of the monsters, and minutiae of the deep (Bodley Head, 13s. 6d).
For the intelligent daughter of the house, there is Martha Cathcart Borer's Women Who Made History (Warne. 12s. 6d.). Like Daniel-Rope Saints this is the kind of book which may sow seeds in a young mind.
There is no writing-down whatsoever, and the subjects are as diverse as Angelica Kauffman, Jane Austen. Elizabeth Fry, and Marie Curie.
This book unconsciously teaches another lesson that the good we do in our lifetime may only come to fruition after death.
For the little daughter of the house, Naomi Mitchison has written The Fairy Who Couldn't Tell A Lie, a longish hook which would sound nice read aloud by father who must of course. believe in fairies. Little brothers could also be permitted to listen
After that, there is Macaroon by Julia Cunningham (Harrap, 10s. 6d.) well illustrated by E. Ness. The hero is a racoon who each winter stays with a family of people, but each spring finds it harder and harder to run back to the woods, so fond does he become of the children.
So this. winter he decides to find an impossible child, whom he will be glad to leave in the spring.
For those who like "real" hooks, Farley Mowat's Owls in the Family (Macmillan. Its. 6d.) is in the same class as the now famous The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, in which the two owls. Wol and Weeps. first appeared. It will be enjoyed as much by adults as children.
The Greeks old and new are featured in Cupid, The God of love, Frances Winwar's book destined to put life into myths and legends (Muller, 9s. 6c1.), and for modern Greece. An Island for a Pelican (World's Work, 10s. 6d.), Edward Fenton's story. illustrated by Dimitris Davis, is based on an actual pelican who took up residence on Mykonos, and caused oh, such a fuss !
Nasreddin Hodja has been dead these five long centuries. Who then would think that the tales of a Turkish priest teacher would still be as funny today as then, and reach the ears of English children?
Wise, witty, resourceful -occasionally hopelessly impractical, nothing will dim the memory of the Hodja. In fact. it gathers in strength from time to time! L. Juda's book The Wise Old Man effects the spacetime translation to the English hearth (Nelson. 12s. 6d.).
All children like to hear about the ordinary domestic details of other homes, plus a dash of the unusual a formula seen at its simplest in the tale of the three hears and at its more complex in Patricia Lynch's novels.
In Brogeen and the Red Fez (Burke, 13s. 6d.), the Irish family at Waterford provides the first ingredient, and Brogeen, the leprechaun who achieves the impossible for them, provides the second.
This time they make a trip from Waterford to Egypt, and as these books are popular, a lot of children are going to learn geography the easy way.
Fanciful honks for younger children are The Three Wishes. retold and drawn by Paul Galdone (World's Work, 10s. 6d.), John Langstaff's 0!' Dan Tucker (pictured for us by Joe Knish) (World's Work. Its. 6d.) and Jacqueline Ayer's tale from Thailand. The PaperFlower Tree (Collins, 125. 6d,).
Little boys (and girls) who would understand Jamie's heartbreak when Fran, his dog, disappeared into the Australian hush, will enjoy Jamie's Discovery (Bodiev Head. 8s. 6d.). Jamie is eight, and has appeared in print before.
A warning for parents interested in their children's progress in spelling. Many hooks are published for the international market. and if their children start writing "theater. center. traveling" etc., a word on international differences in spelling may he required.