23 NOVEMBER 1962, Page 62

Sobbing Boys and Happy Lions

Listen and I'll Tell You, by Edward Korel (Blackie, 12s. 6d.), is nicely illustrated by Quen- tin Blake. It is a book of Indian animal tales —tales and tales within tales—that have clearly been gathered together, translated and told with love. Very enjoyable. Three Gay Tales from Grimm, translated and illustrated by Wanda Gag (Faber, 9s. 6d.), is hardly first-rate Grimm, but still a better-than-average buy. The translation is clumsy. Take this, for instance: 'He wants the finest and most beautiful tapestry in the world,' sobbed the boy. Even in children's books boys don't sob sentences: they might, perhaps, say something, sobbing. Paul the Hero of the Fire, written and illustrated by Edward Ardiz- zone (Constable, 10s. 6d.), stands out if only be- cause the author has taken trouble with his characterisation and dialogue. The illustrations, too, are way above the ordinary.

The rest of the batch doesn't amount to much.

I think the trouble is too many authors of children's books seem to confuse writing for children with being childish; their prose is generally without wit and the manner is con- descending. 1 suppose it would be too cute to have children review the books that are, after all, meant to appeal to them. It's a pity. For just as children can instinctively detect the adults who don't like or are afraid of them, so, I think, they would quickly find out dull, uninventive authors.

Take Rocket Mouse, by Lee Priestley (Abelard-Schuman, 10s. 6d.). It's not only badly written, but boring and terribly expensive as well. Full of laaa . . POOMM!' and `Swaa . . . 000SSSFIH'; strictly for the backward boy. The Secret of the Shed, by Anthony Mait- land (Constable, 11s. 6d.), is another obvious, flatly written story. One hot summer afternoon Jane and Tom sneak a ride in Mr. Marble's secret jet helicopter. . . The machine, I'm afraid, is the only magical thing in the book.

Veronica and Petunia Beware, both written and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin (The Bodley Head, 9s. 6d. and 12s. 6d.), are about animals, in one case a goose and in the other a hippo- potamus, who leave their native heath in search of adventure only to find the world outside filled with the treachery of strangers. Any parent will tell you children are conventional enough with- out hammering them with this reactionary mes- sage. But the drawings in both books are unusually charming.

Roger Duvoisin also drew the pictures for The Happy Lion's Quest, by Louise Fatio (The Bodley Head, 8s. 6d.). The Happy Lion is a delightful invention and his latest adventure will, I'm sure, not disappoint his followers. I can't say the same for the latest Anatole book. Anatole Over Paris, by Eve Titus, with pictures by Paul Galdone (The Bodley Head, 9s. 6d.), relies too much on cutie-pie French phrases. It's not as tr?s inagnifique as the blurb-writer thinks.