A CHILD'S DELIGHT by Noel Perrin


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 Perrin (First Person Rural, 1990, etc.) follows up his popular collection A Reader's Delight with a similar garland of essays on underappreciated children's books. Perrin is one of those rare grown-up literati who appreciate the joys and splendors that are peculiar to books for children, and this volume collects his appreciations of 30 such works. Most of those under discussion were written and published in the 20th century, which Perrin believes has been the golden age of children's literature. He has chosen works that he calls ``wonderful but little-known,'' although it is hard to imagine that The Story of Doctor Doolittle, The Borrowers, The Rescuers, The Railway Children, and Watership Down (to name but three of his choices) qualify as ``little-known.'' On the other hand, P.L. Travers's I Go By Land, I Go By Sea, Virginia Hamilton's The Planet of Junior Brown, and Robert C. O'Brien's Z for Zachariah, among others, sound like real finds. Perrin's great strength here, as in the previous book, is his ability to communicate enthusiasm in an intelligent, thoughtful way. He playfully and intently assumes a child's consciousness (he has two children and four stepchildren, so he undoubtedly has had ample practice), allowing readers to see what a child might value in the books he extols. He is also skilled in highlighting the themes that draw most of the works together, particularly a focus on the battle of the small and powerless against the big and strong, an understandable concern for children. Occasionally, he gets carried away with his own whimsy, and taken in large doses, the book is a bit twee, certainly not a problem afflicting A Reader's Delight. Despite the periodic lapse into cuteness, this is quite a delight itself and should send parents and kids alike scurrying to library shelves in search of Perrin's picks.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1997
ISBN: 0-87451-840-7
Page count: 208pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1997


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