For Younger Readers—II
Cue for Treason. By Geoffrey Trease. (Blackwell. 5s.)
Mutiny in the Caribbean. By G. W. Keeton. (Bell. 68.)
The House in the Mountains. By Averil Demuth. (Hamish Hamilton. 78.6d.)
THE second batch of books, if cot equal to the first, keeps a high level. Mr. Trease- offers us a very fun dish. A Cumberland boy throws a stone at an aristocrat who wishes to rob the farmers of their land, and has to flee from home. He escapes his pursuers at a performance of Richard III, giyen by some strolling
players, hiding on the stage in Edward IV's coffin, joins the troupe, and goes with them to London. Here he meets Shakespeare, and discovers plot against the life of the Queen. Cecil enrols him in the secret police, and, agter many dangers,
he arrives in time to save the Queen's life ; -.e opening per- formance of Henry V, when she was to have peen assassinated. His companion during these adventures is another member of the company, a girl disguised as a boy. In the end, boy gets girl-boy, and, by the Queen's decree, the farmers get their meadows. And very nice too—a story with a glow—but how a publisher of Mr. Blacksvell's taste could pass the jacket I cannot imagine.
Mr. Van Loon's book has the extra virtue that there is nothing to show that it is meant for children. Like Mr. Robert Hatch's marvellous lobster stories, it appeals to all ages. The terse collo- quial style, the scratchy but queerly effective drawings are the same as ever, and the new Van Loot can be put confidently on the shelf beside its brothers. Schoolboy Refugee is set in China. (It is, incidentally, a notable feat of publishing at half a crown, with excellent type and paper, and a dozen illustra- tions). So-Rao, his fat friend Lee-Ting, and Lee Ting's three- year-old sister, have a long way to go, and their journey is compli- cated by Japanese soldiers, packed refugee trains, and a dozen other difficulties and dangers. The scene in the temple with the wounded Japanese soldier has a moral which every child can draw and few will question. Good, sober work, lit often by humour. Mr. McGregor's story is also set in the East. Chi-lo thought well of his destiny, and, when he had caught the won- derful fish, his father thought well of it too. The formula is simple—a realised ambition, the telling is light and humorous, and the whole thing has a quiet but individual flavour of distinction.
Mr. Keeton does not worry about the finer shades.
For a moment or two Ralph himself was too exhausted to make any effort. He simply lay prostrate on the warm sand, and gasped out his thanks to Hoskin.
'That was well done, Bill,' he said, gratefully, 'you came up in the nick of time. Another second and we should both have been finished. But I have lost a good knife ! '
Tell 'em you're going to tell 'ern; tell 'em; tell 'em you've told 'em. Mutiny in the Caribbean observes the classic rule. It's all like that, good hottest slogging, and the incidents are as plentiful as the adverbs.
The House in the Mountains comes with a fervent recom- mendation from Mr. Compton Mackenzie, who is an excellent judge. There is little for me but to confirm his judgement. Miss Demuth very happily blends the two worlds, fairy and real. Sometimes she tips her tale from one to the other like water between two tumblers, sometimes she shades the worlds together so that one can hardly tell which is which. As children have no prejudice in favour of either, and a hot water bottle mayturn into a person whenever it wishes, Miss Demuth's impartiality is a real asset. Her Swiss village and her Mr. Trog the bear are both enchanting and enchanted. Very high marks, and a wide range of ages. Smoky House also deals with a village, this time in Devon. In Faraway everyone was happy, for it was in the West Country, where folk were so kind "you could live in the village all your life long, and never hear an angry voice or the sound of weeping."
Born and bred in the West Country, I was unconvinced by this statement. Then I found that it all happened a hundred years ago, when things may have been different. But, though she is rather too starry-eyed, and unorthodox in her use of fishing rods- " Faith, as no doubt yot, 'nave discovered, is a very powerful force . . . like a fishing rod with a hook on the end. You can reach out with it and hook tin thing that you want towards you "—Miss Goudge knows-her business, and many children will enjoy the book. I would like tc Usk her, in parenthesis, if she has really met anyone called Treguddick? To the best of my belief, I invented this name some twenty years ago.
They Wanted Adventure takes us back to the Western Isles. Chapter One is headed by a picture of Mallaig, so that it is difficult for me to be quite objective about the story, which has the necessary ingredients, and is well told. The Emerald Crown is all fancy free and let's pr-tend, a skilful essay in children's wish-fulfilment, sure of its reward.
L. A. G. STRONG.