A Child's Delight by Noel Perrin

By Noel Perrin

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The doll parents are Mr. and Mrs. Plantagenethe a rather fragile china doll, with brown hair and brown glass eyes, she a cheap celluloid doll that originally came in a Christmas cracker. Actually, it's only the little girls who call her Mrs. Plantagenet; the other dolls call her Birdie. She is not quite right in the headliterally. There's something inside the celluloid that rattles. But she is a loving, devoted doll-mother. Then there are two children: a girl named Tottie and a boy named Apple.

One final objection. What's this magic doing in a book that is supposed to describe the solar system scientifically? Must we pander that much to the popular mind? Surely the science will get contaminated. In theory and sometimes in fact I'd say yes, it will indeed. For example, it's clear to me that science fiction descends to mere space opera the minute the author begins to sneak in magic clad in scientific terms. A common piece of magic is the "space warp," which enables starships to travel faster than the speed of light.

Well, first, obviously, they want to give the child pleasure. From this point of view, and depending on the child's tastes, Nancy Drew and Charlotte's Web make equally good presents. But of course grown-ups have lots of other objectives, and parents do especially. They may hope to encourage a currently nonreading child to become more of a reader, and hence try to pick as effortless a book as possible. ) They may also he thinking about the child's real life. Say they have just moved from Wisconsin to Washington, depriving their son of a chance to go into fifth grade with his Milwaukee friends.

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