The Open - Air Boy. By the Rev. G. M. A. Hewett.
(George Allen. 6s.)—This is a book of the very best quality, and should be a great success. We cannot imagine a boy not liking it, and being the better for reading it. We except, of course, the few to whom all things outside books are as nothing ; and of these there are so few that they do not count. Mr. Hewett begins with a chapter on angling, not the scientific pursuit, but the rough-and- ready method with which most of us began. Then we have a chapter on bird's-nesting,--" quod in civitate nostra et vetabitur semper et retinebitur," as Tacitus says of astrology. Others follow on butterflies and moths. In these are words of wise counsel for young collectors. "Caterpillar Rearing" suggests another subject. It will be strange if nothing is learnt from a comprehensive chapter on "All Kinds of Pets." Then we have "Salt-Water Pursuits," with some delightful personal recollec- tions, and three other chapters. Mr. Hewett has a fine gift of humour, and sets all his subjects to advantage. This is the first volume of a projected series, "The Young England Library." It is a most happy beginning. There are some illustrations, both useful and ornamental. But the frontispiece ! Is it not pessimi exempli to represent a boy wiring pike ? The villain has already caught three, and they can hardly be half-a-pound each. Prob- ably the month is June. What an accumulation of wickedness! —Another volume in the same series is Sea Fights and Adventures (6s.), related by J. Knox Laughton. An introductory chapter describes in a very clever way the armament and general arrangement of the old line-of-battle ships, frigates, Scc., besides giving an account of certain disastrous affairs, of which it is as well to be reminded now and then, "lest we forget." Chaps. 2 and 3 are occupied respectively with "Spanish Treasure Ships" and "Spaniards in the Pacific," and chap. 4 with the not un- related subject of "Pirates and Buccaneers." In chap. 5 we have the story of Captain Termy of the 'Nightingale,' and how he saved his convoy, as fine a tale as can be found in naval annals. (We heartily agree with Mr. Laughton when he says that the traitor Smith deserved his fate,-47S iCALWITO tad tiTaor !) Then comes the story of how Robert Lyde and a boy of sixteen, John Wright, recaptured the 'Friend's Adventure' from a prize crew of seven men. Certain familiar tricks of to-day were not unknown then; the owners were much annoyed at the affair, for the ship and cargo were not worth more than .£130, while they had been insured for £560. Other stories of the same kind follow. Then we have a highly interesting chapter on "Types of Invasion." Bat we cannot follow our author any farther. It must suffice to say that he has given us a most readable book.
Of tales of adventure, historical or other, we have, as usual, a considerable variety. One of the best among them is One of the Ned Shirts, by Herbert Hayens (J. Nisbet and Co., Os.) Mr. Bayern always writes with vigour, and brings out picturesque effects. "The Storming of Palermo" is a really fine battle- piece. In books of this kind there is plenty, so to speak, of "cut- and-thrust," but it is not often that we get a piece of such good work as this. The rest of the story will be found not unequal- -Under the Sirdar's Flag, by William Johnston (S. W. Partridge and Co., 2s. 6d.), has the common defect of an over-long preamble. We do not want to bear of school scrapes, boating adventures, and so forth ; to have to wait till chap. 12 before we are off "to the front" is too absurd. There are 316 pages in the book, and it is on p. 207 that we reach "The Fight on the Athara."— A Gallant Grenadier, by Captain F. S. Brereton (Blackie and Son, 5s.), is a story of the Crimean War, and we reach the scene of action before the story is half over. There is plenty of miscellaneous adventure ; the hero fights, is taken prisoner, escapes, and so forth. No reader can complain of having short measure.—Cleared for Action. By William Boyd Allen. (John F. Shaw and Co. 5s.)—The "Spanish-American War," to which this story belongs, is not a particularly good subject. That it had to be can hardly be doubted, but the circumstances were such that it scarcely appeals to our sympathies. Even American readers, we imagine, would not care very much about it. On the other hand, it is a new subject, and has picturesque aspects.—In the Days of Prince Hal. By H. Elrington. (Blackie and Son. Is. 6d.)—We can hardly give any sketch of the story without spoiling any surprise that it may be meant to have for the reader. As for the time, that is expressed by the title ; the scene, we may say, is laid in the New Forest.—The Secret of Maxshelling. By E. Everett-Green. (John F. Shaw and Co. 6s.)—This is a story of the days of Queen Elizabeth ; Veronica Stanley and her brother and sister are left orphans, and as such are received into the home of their uncle, Sir Philip Stanley, at Maxshelling. Here there is a mystery connected with the suppression of the neighbouring nunnery, and a tragical love-story. The Armada comes into the tale. which is a earn- fully studied piece of work—The Doctor's Niece, by Eliza F. Pollard (Blackie and Son, 3s. Od.), takes us back to the French Revolution. The horrors are judiciously avoided. We have nothing worse in this way than some of tbe fighting between the Chouans and the Republican army. The story is of the familiar kind,—a well born child is brought up in a humbler station, and when her identity is discovered comes into the possession of her own. But it is told with some distinction, and the characters are drawn with more than usual skill.—The Dragon of Peking, By Captain F. S. Brereton. (Same publishers. 5s.)—The sub- title, "A Tale of the Boxer Revolt," shows the time and place of this story. Of course there is a demand for these up-to. date tales, but we must own that we prefer the subjects to be taken from some times more remote. We ought to see all round any subject if we are to make a work of interest out of it. But this is to ask too much. We have been reading about China in the newspapers, and it is natural to look for it in the gift-book.— In Fair Granada, by E. Everett-Green (T. Nelson and Sons, 5s.). is a "Tale of Moors and Christians" in the days of Philip 11., when this King set himself to drive out from Spain his Moorish subjects. Our author always writes with force, and after a careful study of her subject. Father Christoval is a fine character.—Madanrscourt, by H. May Pointer (same pub- lishers, 2s.), is a story of the romantic journey of the Princess Clementina Sobieski when she escaped from Innsbruck to join her future husband, Prince James Stuart, commonly known as the Old Pretender.—The Waterloo Lass, by Mary E. Debenham (National Society, 3s. Gcl.), may be reckoned among historical tales, as its interest turns on the social and political troubles which followed the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars.—The Chieftain and the Scout, by Edward S. Ellis (Cassell and Co., 2s. 6d.), is a "Tale of the Frontier," one of the studies of Indian life which the author has made peculiarly his own.--/n Ships of Steel, by Gordon Stables, M.D. (John F. Shaw and Co., 5s.), may be said to combine instruction and information. The young reader, besides following the fortunes of the hero and his companions, may learn something of how ships are made and managed nowadays, and something, too, of the education that is needed before a lad can enter on the profession.—From the same author we have In Quest of the Giant Sloth (Blackie and Son, 3s. 6d.) Dr. Gordon Stables caelum non animum mutat. This time he takes us to South America, and is as indomitably cheerful as ever. Whether his hero and his hero's companions find the par- ticular object of their quest it might not be fair to the author to say, but readers may be confident that they do find a number of curious things, human and other, and have considerable excite- ment and fun in finding them.—Icebound. By Edward Roper. (S. W. Partridge and Co. 2s. Gcl.)—Anticosti—the sub-title of the story is "The Anticosti Crusoes "—is the scene of the adventures here related. Our readers may remember that we are periodi- cally alarmed by reports that this island, which is in the mouth of the St. Lawrence, has been occupied by foreign settlers and will become a menace to Canadian prosperity. Readers of Ice- bound, besides getting entertainment out of the story—the " Crusee " subject is easy to deal with successfully—will be delivered from this fear. A more hopeless standpoint for pulling down the Canadian Dominion could hardly be. — Jack Ralston. By Hampden Burnham, M.A. (T. Nelson and Sons. 5s.)—The "Far North-East of Canada"—such is the scene of this story—is less familiar to the reader, whether of travel or of fiction, than the "Far North-West." If the reader will look at a map he will see westward of Labrador and east- ward of Hudson's Bay a region pretty well blank, about half as big again as England. Here, for a time at least, the action of the story takes place. To shoot and to fish, to hunt and now and then to be hunted, to study the elegances of life with the Eskimos and its amenities with the Indians,—these are the occupations of the hero and his companions. We get a glimpse not only into the ordinary life, but also into the politics of this out-of-the-way region. Altogether, Jack Ralston is a readable book. --In Winding Waters, by W. M. Graydon (S. W. Partridge and Co., 2s. 6d.), shows what a paradise America must be for the adventurous boy. On our deplorably small and well-known island the "Jolly Rovers" would have had no chanee of finding an unexplored river two hundred miles long. It might be remarked that a very tortuous stream cannot also be very rapid. But perhaps that may be another peculiarity denied to us here. However these things may be, this is a brisk and entertaining story. —The Great Khan's Treasure. By Charles Squire. (Mackie and Son. 3s. (ld.)—Gerald Carleton, reaching his twenty-first birthday, reads a letter written by his father, then dead nineteen years, in which is enclosed tho description of a treasure buried by a soldier of Genahis Khan some centluip,e before. Buried treasures are a source of unfailing interest. We shall not spoil Mr. Squire's story by revealing its end. Let it be enough to say that the adventurous reader, while he enjoys the experiences of Gerald and his companion, may reflect with pleasure that the stores are not exhausted.—We have also to mention new editions of The Pirate Island, by Harry Coiling- wood (Blackie and Son, 3s.) ; Grettir the Outlaw, by S. Baring- Gould (same publishers, 33.), both sufficiently recommended by their authorship ; and The Lion's Cub, by Fred. Whishaw (Griffith, Ferran, and Co., 3s. 6d.), one of the Russian stories in which the author excels. The "Cub" is Peter the Great.
Mr. Alfred H. Miles does not disappoint us of his annual con- tribution to the gaiety of nations in the shape of his "Fifty-two Stories" from various hands under his editorship. This time we have Fifty-two Stories of Greater Britain (Hutchinson and Co., 5s.) There are four divisions, Australia, Canada, Africa, and India, and a fifth entitled "Here and There." The stories are partly fiction, partly fact; some are, we suppose, a mixture of both. "Governor Ralph Darling's Iron Collar," for instance, is only too true. Sir Ralph Darling was Governor of New South Wales in the early part of the last century, and was a self- important and arbitrary person, who was probably more cruel than he intended to be. We would remind Mr. Miles that Madeira—" The Discoverers of Madeira" is the last of the fifty- two, the tale of how "Madeira trembled to a kiss "—is not a part of "Greater Britain." To the same series belong Fifty-two Stories of Courage and Endeavour for Boys (5s.) and Fifty-two Stories of Courage and Endeavour for Girls (5s.)—With these we may mention from the same publishers True Stories of Girl Heroines (5s.), by E. Everett-Green, differentiated, the reader wilt observe, by the epithet "true." Miss Everett-Green has gone far afield for her material (worked up, of course, for the purpose of the book), and has made an interesting collection.