The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
"En hoexkens ende boexbens."
"In Thoughtland and in Dreamland," by Miss Elsa d'Esterre-Keeling, (T. Fisher Unwin), might stand for a paraphrase of our books motto. We are not sure that the title is a happy one, for the figures in the book stand forth sad and stern for the most part out of a background that is no fairy tapestry. If overworked servant girls, unintentionally comic nursery wits, Arabs of the street and of the drawing-room, could only understand these pages, they would fell that, at any rate, they had one friend who could appreciate their difficulties and laugh and cry with them. Miss Keeling tells no complete stories; perhaps the pathetic history of Maria, which unwillingly draws itself out to a printed conclusion, is the only piece which pretends to have a beginning and an end. Even here the author denies us the middle of the story; and throughout the book you have to "read yourself in." Yet the pictures are clear enough, and the Sary the door-stepper, the beggar-girl Bess, Doffy, Jenny, Sage-green and Natalie might supply the writer of long stories with characters ready to his hand. The book is chiefly a book of children, but it seems to touch a note that is not sounded in the works of Mrs. Gatty or Mrs. Ewing; and no one need be afraid of finding sermons in its pages. It is the work of a witty, bright, sympathetic Irishwoman, who cannot quite make up her mind whether comedy or tragedy lies heavier in the balances; and with her, the things which seem so simple to the hurrying world are full of problems. To those who are students of the earlier stages of life, these pages will reveal the artist's tough; and this is no small praise if we consider that the number of great writers who can really draw a child as he is may, be counted on the fingers. Shakespeare never drew a child, though children occasionally stalk about in his plays. We cannot believe that Milton ever was a child. Only at rare intervals do children live in literature, and no one need be ashamed of the fact that the last twenty years have been productive of more sympathetic study of child life than the six hundred years that went before them. In this volume, the sketches of children are mingled with outlines of "grown ups"; and while the still life scenes are very still and the sad bits are very sad, mawkishness finds no place.
"A Far-Away Melody" and other Stories, IS. (Douglas, Edinburgh). To his series of American books, which we are glad to believe are well-known now in England, Mr. Douglas has wisely added two volumes of Miss Wilkins's short tales. In the author's preface to the Edinburgh edition, we are reminded that the sketches attempt to preserve the old and, probably, disappearing types of New England village character. It is not too much to say (I have said it before in this column) that no English writer as yet has been able to follow in the steps of Cable, Stockton, Aldrich, and Curtis. Let us be just and allow that the "short story" is, in its English form, an American product. In this little shilling volume there are fifteen little narratives, all redolent of the short and simple annals of the poor; and the companion volume, "A Humble Romance," will well repay any reader who, having made acquaintance with Cable and Curtis, is disposed to "try" another American writer. Unless it be in Guy de Maupassant's hands, the "short story" is, as someone says, a shy bird that will not come at the first call; but to Miss Wilkins the bird has come. The stories do not seem to be of equal merit, and "A Far-away Melody," "The Bar Lighthouse," and "A Taste of Honey," are the best. NEMO
In the August number of the Newberry House Magazine, Dr. Welsh gives an amusing and interesting paper telling of the kind of intellectual milk for babes that was considered whilesome and palatable fare five or six hundred years ago. That the admonitions offered to children in "The Baby's Book" were of the best quality, and that the "fair babes" throve thereon, cannot be doubted. One's curiosity is aroused as to what the babes did for intellectual sweets. In those days, no doubt, a book was expected to be taken seriously, and if a child wanted a tale he must ask nurse. Dr. Welsh's paper is the first of a series -- probably the subsequent numbers will answer this question and throw more light upon a subject which is novel as well as interesting. C.M.B.
[This note reached us in August, and since then, in Dr. Werlsh's most interesting articles on the "History of Books for Children" (see the September and October numbers of the Newberry House Magazine), we have lists of the penny "Chap-books" which delighted the little folk of two or three hundred years ago, and they turn out to be the very same which are the joy of our nurseries today! There they are, "Little Red Riding Hood," Jack the Giant-killer," "Tom Thumb," "Puss in Boots," and many more.]
I should like to recommend through your magazine to mothers who have young children a book by Miss Shirriff -- the president of the Froebel Society -- called "The Kindergarten at Home." It is written chiefly for mothers who, for any reason, do not wish to send their children to a kindergarten. To these it cannot fail to be of the greatest help, because it gives most clearly the foundation principles of Froebel's system, and is full of valuable advice on bringing up the little ones, as well as of details about the use of each "gift" and "occupation." It has a use, also, for those whose children do attend a kindergarten, since by realizing the methods there adopted they can bring the talks, play, and occupations at home into harmony with the spirit of the hours spend in school. I may add that the loving sympathy with a mother's work which runs through this book makes it most attractive to those who may, perhaps, fear that their position will be invaded by the teachers to whom they entrust their children during the hours spent in school.
["The Kindergarten at Home," second edition, revised and illustrated, published by Joseph Hughes.]
May I recommend to mothers a most delightful book for children of almost all ages -- "Very Short Stories," by Mrs. Clifford. It was a great boon to me, and is still, to read aloud in "the children's hour."
Do mothers of girls in their teens, the first half of this time of their intellectual life, properly appreciate Mrs. Whitney's "A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite's Life"? This is a book breathing purity, high thought, high aims, and a most delicate and intimate knowledge of girl-life and girls' difficulties -- religious, and social, and mental.
"The Life of the Fields" and "Field and Hedgerow," by Richard Jefferies, are delightful books for lover of the country. F.L.B.
I notice in your review of "The Frairie Queen," page 546, you give the price as 10s. I bought it last December, bound just as you describe, published price 3s. 6d., cash 2s 9d. E.M.
I take the liberty of writing to ask you if you know a little book called "Hints for the Improvement of Early Education and Nursery Discipline." My copy is the eighth edition, published by Hatchard, 11824. I wish it could be re-issued, and carefully read by all mothers; there is no name on the title page, so I do not know who is the authoress. C.S.
You ask parents to recommend any book which may strike them as being particularly helpful in educating their children. I have found "Le Manuel des Maîtres," par Madame Pape-Carpentier, very useful. Another excellent book -- French too -- is "La Gymnastique de l'Espirit" (méthod maternelle), par A..Pellisier modèles et sujets d'exercices, oraux et écrits pour les enfants de 5 a 8 ans. I have found "Lecons de Choses," par le Dr. Saffray, livre du maître, excellent. In writing in a hurry yesterday I think I omitted to say, when speaking of the excellent method of "La Gymnastique de l'Esprit" (méthod maternelle), par A. Pellisier, that of course the author off the book was a Roman Catholic, and that consequently the fourth part, which treats of the "Sens moral et religieux," would not be used by Protestant parents. I think it would be a pity if this excellent little work should not be known more in England. The method is so like that you recommend in the Parents' Review -- decidedly "gymnastics of the mind." I am glad to have an opportunity of helping to suggest the names of any suitable books, at your invitation, through the magazine. J.P.P.
Typed by happi, Apr 2017
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