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Children's LiteratureTwenty-four stories culled from other collections and at least one picture book make up the contents of this anthology in the "Kingfisher Treasury" series. Ranging in date of publication from 1952 to 1994 in Britain, they vary in appropriateness and quality, though most are by well-respected authors like Joan Aiken, Margaret Mahy, and Dick King-Smith. A few stories are too long; some are dated, especially the ones like "Mrs. Mopple's Washing Line" taking place on the kind of farm seldom seen any more by most American children. The best ones are the folk tales: "Five" by Barbara Sleigh, a Jamaican adaptation of an Anansi tale; Alison Lurie's "The Black Geese," a story about Russian witch Baba Yaga; and "The Goose and Her Little Iron House," an Italian folk tale retold by Italo Calvino (although its length may challenge the attention spans of some young listeners). One can't help thinking that most four-year-olds would rather enjoy a story in single picture book format with the original color illustrations. Illustrator Dinan does her best with black-and-white substitutions, but it is not the same. Who would want to deprive pre-schoolers of, for example, Margaret Bloy Graham's marvelously funny pictures for "Harry and the Lady Next Door?" Librarians and teachers will have to work hard to make the stories appealing to a group—one parent with one child would be more satisfying. Older browsers may enjoy reading some of the tales themselves, while several might make good selections for storytelling. 2005 (orig. 1997), Kingfisher, Ages 4 to 8.
—Barbara L. Talcroft