17 DECEMBER 1943, Page 18

Guide to Children's Books


Henrietta. By Kathleen Hale. (Transatlantic Arts. 8s. 6d.)

Maggie the Streamlined Taxi. By Hilary Stebbing. (Transatlantic

Arts. 5s.) Harlequinade. By Noel Streatfield. Lithographs by Clarke Hutton. (Chau°. 6s.) William and Cherry. By Merula Salaam. (Cresset. 75. 6d.) Anthony and Antimacassar. By Mary and Rowland Emett. (Faber. 6s.) Behind the Waterfall. By Elizabeth Kyle. (Davies. 8s. 6d.) Adam of the Road. By Elizabeth Janet Gray. (Black. 8s. 6d.) The Monster of Widgeon Weir. By M. E. Atkinson. (Bodley Head. 7s. 6d.) Timur's Vow. Adapted by Nora Lloyd and Musia Renbourn. (Trans-

atlantic Arts. 3s. 6d.)

Dominic. By Diana Buttershaw. (Muller. 6s.) The Red Canoe. By Harriet Evatt. (Mullen 6s.) Folk-Tales from Scotland. Retold by Philippa Galloway. (Collins. 6s.) The Flying Village. By Clare Collas. (Davies. 75. 6d.) Candlelight Tales. (Collins. 3s. 6d.) Watch the Pony Grow. By William Hall and Charlotte Steiner.

(Collins. 3s. 6d.) Enid Blyton's Merry Story Book. (Hodder and Stoughton. 45. 6d.) Collins' Children's Annual. (7$. 6d.) Amanda. By Wolo. (Collins. 75. 6c1.) Ducks and Drakes. By Vernon Stokes and Cynthia Harnett (Collins 7s. 6d.)

"THERE is a fairyland., A fairyland for everybody. All you have to do is, try to do all that Mummy asks you to ; try to do what your teacher says . . ." These horrible sentences, transcribed from Collins' Children's Annual, may serve to point one general criticism of this batch of books-a sad lack of imagination. The supernatural is fatally confounded with morality and good citizen- ship. The children of The Flying Village use their magic power of flight in order to give the village hall roof and make a Success of the Conservative Fete. The Slave of the Lamp deals in tomatoes and oranges, and bnbbles of green ration-books ; Valor, the oil- stove that can walk, helps his country by going for scrap (these two travesties of magic come from Collins' Annual). In fact, the only trace of a genuine 'fairyland in this batch-the 'world of imagination that wise children attain by blandly ignoring at least half what Mummy and Teacher say-is in Lady Galloway's re- tellings of Folk Tales from Scotland. The mock-Celtic get-up and pictures cannot detract from the purity of magic in such stories as "The Seal-Woman," "Little Fool" and "Thomas the Rliyiner."

Elsewhere we have Whimsy or Fancy-Whimsy (and senti- mentality) in the pranking pixies and frolicsome brownies of Enid Blyton's Merry Story Book, in the Mr. North Wind and Little Loved One of Candlelight Tales ; Fancy, in Anthony and Antimacassar, William and Cherry, Maggie the Streamlined Taxi and Henrietta. The Emetts are doggedly fanciful from end to end of their tale about an engine and a china pig ; if you happen, to like Rowland Emett's type of distortion you will also like Mary Emett's words. Merula Salaman, Hilary Stebbing and Kathleen Hale each start with one unusual assumption-respectively, a wonderful sympathy between a bony and a cow, a wonderful sympathy between a man and a taxi, a wonderful sympathy between a lady and a hen ; each elaborates a fanciful story on this basis. The Kensington Gardens background of William and Cherry, Maggie's adventures by the docks in the blitz, may make these two specially suitable for London children, or children knowledgeable. about London. Kathleen Hale's book is the most ingenious and delightful of the three. With its agreeable conceits about Henulayneum, the Roman city discovered by the hen, and its visual jokes about the architecture of Bamdoor Castle and The Nest, Henrietta will do very well in circles already captivated by the same author's Orlando. Maggie, Henrietta and Harlequinade (a history of Harlequin very neatly fitted into a story of evacuee circus-children) come easily top of the list for looks ; they are all illustrated by lithographs which show a zest, gaiety and feeling for colour that make most of the rest look mechanical and crude or, like Wolo's Amanda, frankly horrible.

The non-supernatural books are on a more even level. Watch the Pony Grow is a three-minute joke of a picture-book, though one doubts if the joke is worth three-and-sixpence. The Red Canoe is a pleasant story of the Ojibway Danny Whiteduck and his friend Little Beaver, though one suspects at times that the heroes are not

so much contemporary Red Indians as our helpful little friends from Collins' Annual dressed up as Red Indians. No less helpful and

public-spirited are the children of Ducks and Drakes, but there is more life in them ; when their father has carelessly lost his fortune (hence the title) they encourage him to make a new start on a farm, The pictures (by both authors) are very satisfactory as illustrations,

though they hardly give the positive pleasure of Kathleen Hale's or Clarke Hutton's. Children who like ponies and dogs, or like reading about ponies- and dogs, will enjoy Dominic-a boy who, for all his uncanny power over animals, also leads a satisfactory school-story and Pony Club existence. Timor's Vow is a story adapted from a Soviet film, touching in its rather naive intensity, of a group of Pioneers who do useful work in the village near Moscow when the men have gone off to the Red Army.

Finally, there are three novels-two of them very good-which, with the previously mentioned Harlequinade, would be suitable presents up to about twelve. People who have liked M. E. Atkinson'S other novels about the Lockett family-who are this time camping on an island in the Thames-will find The Monster of Widgeon Weir up to standard newcomers may be irritated by the frequent and self-conscious references to previous books in the series. The language and outlook of Adam of the Road, the story of a minstrel

boy of the time of Edward I, strikes a most happy mean between the " tushery " kind of historical novel and the school that ascribes a twentieth-century vocabulary and outlook to the past, of whatever period. Adam's search for his father across the South of England

-with its fascinating pictures of the Abbey of St. Alban's a grea nobleman's London establishment, St. Giles's Fair at Winchester- is clearly based on sound historical knowledge, and though she narrative springs from the conditions of thirteenth-century Engla it is never twisted to display or ram home some particular piece of information ; the story always comes first. So it does in Behind the Waterfall, which, securely based on local knowledge, describ the adventures of two English children and their village friends when they try to rescue a kidnapped boy from a gang of W

Highland tinkers. By strict Ransome standards, there are one or two improbabilities, of geography, time and human nature, but Miss Kyle's children are very good, and—unusual point—she differentiates subtly between her boys and her girls. Her children do a useful job, and the story ends with a reward. But their good- ness is hardly mentioned, and to them it is not virtue, but enjoy- ment, that starts them on this ploy ; adventure is the main thing always, and Miss Kyle is not working things round to a bright