12 NOVEMBER 1965, Page 28

What Next?

I suPPose it is easier to sell a book which appears to be a beautiful anthology of stories for young children than a book the declared intention of which is to help adults to open the right door for a particular child at a particular sticking-point in his reading life. Margery Fisher's Open the Door (Brockhampton, 35s.) is a book to be used with children rather than one which should be given to them. But if the publishers are determined to keep the secret, how are we to know?

If ever a book needed an introduction, it is Open the Door—and who better to give a guiding hand to parents than Mrs. Fisher. author of Intent upon Reading, a classic in this field, Yet the book has no introduction, and it is rather confusing, at first, to find the creators of Jennings and Milly-Molly-Mandy rubbing shoulders with T. H. White and Mrs. Ewing. Then one fathoms the editor's commendable purpose, which is, it appears, to cast her net long (age-range four to nine) and wide, hoping to catch both the little fish who will always swim best in the shallows and those who from early childhood flourish in the richer deep.

Powerful evocation of, place, be it football pitch or doll's house, is the linking factor in these stories; and the yardstick is that the writing should be good of its kind. Brief bio- graphical paragraphs about the authors (the only hint that the book is for adult use) precede each story, while the reading lists which follow ensure that, once the door is open, the child is not left staring at blank walls. A unique and useful collection which should be a boon to all those who tackle reading problems with the yOung—if they find it.

E. M.