The Children's Hour. Nine volumes. (Houghton, Mifflin, and Co.)—The title of this series is taken, of course, from Longfellow's poem:— " Between the dark and the daylight, when the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupation which is known as the 'Children's Hour.'' And in these nine volumes we have the means of filling it up with something that will please entertainer and entertained. We have never seen anything so complete. It is positively encyclopaedic. Nothing that can appeal to the normal child is wanting, and, indeed, the youngster that can appreciate it all ought to go very far. Meanwhile there is excellent food for every wholesome appetite. In the first volume, "Folk Stories and Fables," we have first our old friends "Tom Thumb" and "Jack the Giant- Killer" and their compeers, under the title of "Everybody's Favourites," and then less generally known personages of various nationality. Vol. II. gives us "Myths from Many Lands," Greece and Rome, Scandinavia and Japan, Hawthorne being the chief of those laid under contribution. Then follow in separate volumes" Stories from the Classics," Homer, Herodotus, Livy, &c. ; "Legendary Heroes," such as Beowulf and King Arthur ; "Stories from Seven Old Favourites,"—" The Pilgrim's Progress," "Robinson Crusoe," " Gulliver's Travels," "Don Quixote," "The Arabian Nights," The Travels of Baron Munchausen," and Shakespeare; "Old- Fashioned Stories and Poems," among them "The Swiss Family Robinson," "Eyes and No Eyes," with extracts from "Sandford Ind Merton," "The Vicar of Wakefield," &c. ; "Adventures and Achievements," drawn from Joaquin Miller, Charlotte M. Yonge, Victor Hugo, Olive T. Miller, and a score of others ; "Poems and Rhymes," a quite admirable" Children's Anthology," and" Modern stories," where we find among other names those of Kate Douglas Wiggin, Horace E. Scudder, T. B. Aldrich, Nathaniel Hawthorne, mud Rudyard Kipling. Clearly there is provision for a good many happy hours here.
Heidi. (J. M. Dent and Sons. 55. net.)—Johanna Spyri, the tuthor of this story, is certainly not known in this country as well ts she should be. We do not remember to have seen any of her work before, though we are told that her stories in general, and rieidi in particular, have been for many years favourite books in America as well as Germany. (Her literary activity covered the 9eriod 1884-1891.) It is certainly a pleasant change to get away from he story of adventure, a kind of literature of which we have had it least a sufficiency for the last two months, to this delightful
■ icture of Nature and life. Heidi is a child who at the age of
five is thrust upon the care of a somewhat misanthropic grand- father, who lives alone on a Swiss hillside. How she wins him over, how she achieves a similar success when she is taken to be the companion of an invalid girl in Frankfort, how she comes back to her mountain home, being wherever she shows herself a wonderful power for good, is admirably told. There is no plot ; we might almost say there are no incidents. But life in summer and winter on a Swiss Alp is admirably pictured. And the characters in this simple scene—Peter the goat-boy, the goats themselves, the blind grandmother, and all the persons of the little drama—are delightful.
The Book of British Ships. By Frank H. Mason. (H. Frowde and Hodder and Stoughton. 5s.)—Mr. Mason makes a beginning with the Viking ships, which, he says, "may be regarded as pro- viding a foundation for the British Navy," but he does not deal in detail with the remoter past. Space is not available, since he has to crowd so much into a single volume. If the ship of war has the largest share, yet the merchantman of every degree, from the Indiaman down to the oil-tanker, is sufficiently dealt with. Nor is the fishing industry neglected. The chapters from 15 onward are full of information which will be mostly new to readers. The volume is excellently illustrated.
In Brave Sons of the Empire (R.T.S., 28.) we have a number of stories which cannot be told too often. These are the stories of men renowned in war and peace, who have done great things in building up the Empire. Among them we find the names of C. G. Gordon, the group of men who brought about the end of slavery, Spoke, Stanley, and Sir Herbert Edwardes.
A few tales of the historical class remain to be noticed. First among these must be placed In the Van of the Vikings, by N. F. Outram (R.T.S., 2s. 6d.), one of the "Boy's Own Series." This is substantially history, for it gives us, with some additions, which the author is careful to note, the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason.— Mistress Nanciebell, by Elsie Jeannette Oxenham (same publishers, 5s.), carries us back to the days of Charles II. and the war with the Dutch, a somewhat discreditable episode in our history, of which it is well to give young people some true notion. We doubt not that the author has studied her history, but she should not have introduced "tennis on the lawn" in the second half of the seventeenth century.—The King's Liege, by H. A. Ilinkson (Blackie and Son, 2s.), is a "Story of the Days of Charles the First," told by one of the Hyde family, perhaps in too modern a style, but made sufficiently interesting.--Harry Escombe, by Harry Collingwood (same publishers, 3s. 6d.), is an ingenious combination of the old and the new. The hero is making a survey for a railway in Peru, and comes into contact with the party which looks for the restoration of the Incas.—John Bargreave's Gold. By Captain F. S. Brereton. (Blackie and Son. 5s.)—The scene is laid in the Caribbean Sea, and the story has for its theme the in- exhaustible subject of a hunt for treasure, through perils by land, river, and sea, amidst poisoned arrows and other agreeables.
Evan Grayle's Daughters, by Isabel Stuart Robson (S. W. Part- ridge and Co., 2s. 6d.), is a tale in which various threads of interest are woven together. Evan Grayle has spent his labour and sub- stance, as it seems, in vain on philanthropic enterprises. Here we see how the harvest comes in, his children "bringing back the sheaves."—MoUy Brown, a Girl in a Thousand. By Mrs. G. S. Heaney. (R.T.S. 2s.)—Molly Brown, it must be understood, is really Pauline Roscom, who has been robbed by a rascally guardian of her property, and who faces the situation courageously by going to work under this alias as a factory girl. Here her education and training tell ; in a short time she is promoted to be forewoman, and brings a most admirable influence to bear on the employees. All this is very well told by Mrs. Rea.ney, as, indeed, we should expect from previous experience of her work. Possibly there is too much love-making. Surely the junior partner in the factory need not have been made to swell the triumph of Pauline, alias Molly.—Profit and Loss, by Agnes Giberne (R.T.S., is. 6d.), is a tale of modern life well told, as we should expect from the author's name.—The Quest of the White Merle, by Lilian Gask (George (1 Harrap and Co., 3s. 6d. net), is a pretty, fanciful tale of animal life in which beasts and birds "confabulate."