10 DECEMBER 1948, Page 17

Young Naturalists

All modern children should be naturalists in some sort. Almost every example of literature, so-called, designed for children at Christmas has contained, so far as I have seen, attractive references to plants and wild life. A very ingenious story, Sergeant, the Dog, by Joan Begbie, con- cerning the New Forest and its neighbourhood, is full of excellent, even original, natural history observations, all allusive to the story as such. The elementary schools have been receiving a succession of persuasively illustrated pamphlets about plants, beasts and birds. A Daily Mail annual prints many pages of singularly beautiful coloured pictures of flowers from old designs (especially, I should conjecture, Sowerby). In some counties the school children are to receive special instruction in the duty of planting trees. The trouble, of course, in imparting the " rural bias " to school children is to find school teachers with the due interest and knowledge. Prizes for natural history are apt to go to the least observant. They belong to the class suggested in that brilliant parody : " A primrose by the river's brim,

Dicotyledon was to him And it was nothing more."

On the subject of primroses it is worth recording that this year they were found in flower in late November in several counties.