DO children know a good book when they see it? This question was debated at the Brighton Conference during the session on Work with Young People. Some delegates said “yes, children choose the best,” but others said “no” and instanced the craze for certain ephemeral authors. To some extent both sides were right, for much depends on the literary foundations laid in early days. Children who had good books in their homes, and had guidance at school and in the public library will pick out the best (with occasional lapses), while others often enough go for the second‐rate every time. Librarians are alive to this and accordingly provide the best picture and easy reading books from the presses and, incidentally, there seems to be a wider choice in this class of literature than for any other age group. On the informative side Harrap's have just published Hippo and Patches, attractively told and illustrated tales of a hippopotamus and her baby, and of a young giraffe, both written and illustrated by Joel Stolper (5/‐ each). Margaret M. Pearson's The Story of Australia (Harrap, 6/‐) gives the main facts of the discovery, early settlement and development of the continent in the form of a brightly illustrated story suitable for reading to the five‐to‐eight year olds. Mishka and the white Reindeer is a charmingly illustrated fairy tale by Alfred Wood (Dent, 6/‐) about a wood‐cutter whose friends were the creatures of the wild. The story is simply told and of the kind that children will read until they know it by heart. Mary Shillabeer's At First (Museum Press, 7/6) is an educational picture book designed to introduce children to the differences of sex by means of brightly coloured lithographs of animals and their offspring. They will love the gay pictures but whether they will lead “to the natural conclusion of the child's own relation to its parents” seems a bit doubtful considering the tender years the book is designed for. Other animal stories which will appeal to the youngest readers are Hester Wag‐staff's The Story of Fuzzy Wuzzy and Woolly Wonder (H. Hamilton, 6/‐), about two engaging bob tailed sheep dogs who play their part in the life of the town and win prizes in the Salvage Drive. The new method of illustration by colour photographs is used in The Friendly Adventures of Button and Mac, by Ursula Hourihane (O.U.P., 8/6), and the teddy bear and Scotch terrier heroes, their bedroom, their picnic with luncheon baskets, crockery, biscuits and all the minute detail children love, are attractively designed in colour, and in line drawings. The stories are designed for the six‐to‐ten year olds. The same age group and probably those a little older will enjoy the fancy in Frank Batchelor's Golden Journey (Newnes, 6/‐) in which a lean tabby, a musical hedgehog and an unaccomplished frog set off to find some money to comfort them in their old age, and the lesson they learn thereby. Another imaginative tale is The Flying House, written and illustrated by C. W. Hodges, about an inventor whose house is suddenly carried away by a balloon while he is showing it to two children. High up in the sky they come to a rocky island, encounter a witch and other strange things, but all ends well. For those who missed Walter de la Mare's The Dutch Cheese, The Scarecrow, and other stories there is now available his Collected Stories for Children (Faber, 10/6) containing these and many other tales, all illustrated by Irene Hawkins. The Brownie Scouts is a Polish children's classic by the late Mary Konopnicka, poetess, novelist and traveller; it is published by the Riverside Press at 10/6. It is in the old tradition of fairy tales with plenty of difficulties to overcome and with lively conversation giving it a modern touch. The brownie people depicted are a likeable lot and should become favourites.
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