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RECENT PUBLICATIONS.

It is a much more difficult thing than ap-<*> pears at first sight to write a thoroughly satis-<*> factory book either about or for the young;

i*uu *ciy icw writers ::ave £UL-ctimtn 10 I>ul uv' n r themselves sutneicutly in the place of the im mature, to compass a work of the kind that ' should be ail that it ought to be, avoiding ou tbe one hand extravagant sentimentality, and a standard so high as to be cutside human nature altogether; on tbe other vapid silliness, which no astute child can accept as fitting food for its miud at all, and which irritates, as all pretence and roake-l?elieve must It is creditable to Miss Ethel Turner, who has made a reputation by her charm ing stories of the characters and doings of young Australians, that the should have succeeded where so many have failed. Her little heroes and heroines are every bit as delightful as those of Mrs. Burnett in America and Mrs. Moles worth in England, and it is gratifying to discover that the hand which portrayed "The Seven Little Australians." "The Family at Misrule," ar.d the rest has become firmer, freer, and in every way stronger with practice. Miss Turners latest work, "The Little Larrikin" (Ward, Lock, & Co.). is in some resjiects cleverer than any of its predecessors, the choice of incident is wider, and the whole tone and treat ment are more brisk and amusing. The reader, it is true, has a preliminary difnculty to overcome. If, however, he can laelieve that a child of six, alleged to be small and delicate, is capable of such exploits as fighting a boy twice his size and weight, running oil with a costermonger's cart, climbing up the side of a house for a distance of 25 tt., then there is nothing left for criticism. "Lol" Car ruthers is really an amusing personage. He is frank, brave, strong, and full of genius. His knowledge of human nature is beyond his years. Who could have told him that pickles are good for inebriation "i When his brother comes borne with a " head on him " that is the specific recommended by "Lol." He gets on visiting terms with a newly-arrived family in the neighborhood and finds himself in a drawing-room decorated, as was once the fashion, with sham specimens of entomology. "The sight of a mammoth spider clinging to the piano draperies put the apology out of his head. He rushed across to it " ? Don't be frightened,' he called excitedly. 'Fll settle him—keep still all of you. Now. wait a bit—wait a bit I often 101 l them for. Eliza. She's frightened of them. Once I killed a t'ransbla for her. Just hold hard a second.' ** He was gently shaking the crepe scarf all the time he spoke, but the thing had wire in its toes and clung. "At last, however, it fell, and he jumped on it wildly with both feet, crunching his sandshoe heels into tbe matting. * "' I never taw such a whopper,' he said. "Helooked disgusted when he found cotton wool breaking through the crushed animal bom which he raised his foot "' What an awfully silly thing,' he ?aid." The story itself is so slight that it will not bear analysis, while it may be compressed into a very few lines. It merely sets forth the love adventures of Roger Carrnthers asd Linley Middleton and the unhappy married lifo of Linley's sister Marcia and Robert Barrett One can hardly say that these characters are better or worse drawn than those we meet in tbe average novel, and tbe interest of the book really centres in the sayings and doings of little " Lol." Mi<s Turner is never so success ul as in the delineation of child-life. Less praise can be claimed for "The Youngsters of Murray Flat," by M. Ella Chaffey (Ward, Lock, & Co-X which reeorde the exploits of a party of children who live beside the Murray, where the boys catch cod and shoot swans, and the girls romp in the fashion duly' prescribed in up-to date _ books far the young. The story is happily free from moralising, which is too often a feature of such works, and as incidents are to be met with in abundance, and everyone is in a perpetual state of high spirits, "The Youngsters of Murray Flat1' maybe expected to attain considerable popu larity. Miss Ghaffey has evidently made a close and sympathetic study of young folk and their ways, and her work, if not very striking as a literary performance, is wholesome and agreeable. "The Lights of Sydney; or So Past is Dead,'' by Lilian Turner (Cassell ft Co., Limited), is a story that gained the first prize in a competition advertised by the proprietors of CassctTs Family Magazine. It is the author's 'first book, and we are bound to say it betrays every mark of inexperience. The style is crude, the plot thin, the characterisa tion colorless. The seamy side of life is dwelt upon and the uncomfortable littienessesof human nature are laid bareina way which it is fair to say shows a gift of observa tion in the author, which at all events is one essential in a novelist. The opening chapter introduces a wife in the act of leaving her husband after a brief but unhappy marriage. The reader's sympathy is enlisted for the wife at the outset by the language in which her partner addresses her; still it may be doubted whether her desertion of him was well-advised under the circumstances, for she has nowhere to go, and when she leaves Melbourne and arrives in Sydney with her infant son the prospect is dismal enough. There comes a narrowing period of starvation, and then em ployment is found for her as governess. Con siderations as to the disposition of certain pro perty induce her husband to adopt another infant as his, son, and the two boys, co far apart, crow tip and eventually meet, and then comedy and tragedy intermingle in the tale- There is not much, in such a plot, and the suppositious child is an old acquaintance in fiction. Where the author is most successful is in those portions of her work which relate to children. Here the style is animated, the delineation faithful, and the reason no doubt is that the writer does not go for her material outside her- personal experience. All nations, from the rising to the setting of: the sun, have at some time paid homage to in visible and supernatural powers exercising an irresistible authority over their destiny. Tbe dying race of Australian aboriginals is no ex ception to the rule, as may be gathered from a volume entitled "Australian Legendary Tales,'' prepared by Mrs. Parker, and published by David Nutt, London, and Melville, Mullen, and Slade, Melbourne. The collection has been made none too soon, for, as the compiler remarks, the time is coming when the native chroniclers of the legends will have vanished from all the colonies as completely as they have already done from one of them. Mrs. Parker's volume does not profess to contain more than a few of the stories which Aus tralian natives still tell by tbe camp fire. Many of them are rude myths; they explain the habits. and characteristics of birds and beasts, and account in a familiar way for the mystery of death. It has often been remarked bow powerful is the influence exerted upon the national imagina tion by physical characteristics; and irr the sombre, melancholy, featureless bush there is l much that is peculiarly calculated to imbue ' any mind, and especially an untutored mind, with a sense of the terrible and uncanny, j It is true that the genii of the "Arabian Nights," whose fearful forms loom dimly j through mysterious shades, are infinitely more awful conceptions _ than the birds and animals of Australian legendary lore who quarrel with and outwit one another, and as the result of their misdeeds acquire the characteristics 'they are condemned per manently to.retain. But some of the personi fications of nature, animate and innTiirnpt^. in. j spire an equal amount of wonderment and interest to the Oriental fictions, and the morals they are calculated to suggest are doubtless as striking if, as the compiler suggests, they could only be extricated from the tangle of incident in which they are frequently involved. There is a rude pathos in the narrative of the children stolen by "Gooloo," the magpie, and hidden in a hollow tree, where they disappear forever, though their wailing never ceases to echo in the mother's ears. Curious is the native explanation of tbe origin of death. The moon <Bsbloo), angry at the disinclination of the blacks to handle her three "dogs" (the black snake, the death snake, and the tiger snake), condemns the human race to die without rising again, "like a stone sunk in a creek;" and this accounts tot tho mortal antipathy towards shakes in general which the blacks have ever since entertained. In tbe Aus tralian legends there are discoverable frequent traces of unity with the mythology of other nations. The story of the fox aud bis lost tail, for example, lias its parallel in the fable of Goomblegnbbon the bastard, who out of jealousy induces the emu to sacrifice her wings, thus depriving her de scendants of the power of flight Still more remarkable in this way is the legend accounting for the origin of fire. Once discovered, tbe firestick is stolen from the original proprietors. As Mr. Andrew Lang in an interesting preface remarks, the inventors of the myth of Prometheus were of tbe same mind. "A savage cannot believe! that tbe first owners ot fire would give the secret away." The struggle for food and water desperately absorbing is the perpetual theme of these legends, and no wonder considering the barren and thirsty nature of the bush. The illustra tions, which are curious in their way, are very much better than might have been expected fajm a native Australian artist using a pointed stick. It will interest South Aus tralian readers to know that Mrs. Parker 1 is a daughter of Mr. Henry Field, a well-known colonist, and is a niece of Mr. Simpson1 Xewland. Mr. Atha Westbury ib a gentleman well known by bis contributions in prose and verse to Australian magazines and reviews. His pen has ranged over many scenes, but the land of the Maori seems to be liia favorite hunting ground. He has chosen it for the background ot a great part of his novel, "The Shadow of Hilton Fernbrook " (Chatta and Windus), an admirable story of adventure of the fin de siccle kind. Mr. Westbury has evidently a liking for the natives now rapidly disappearing, and pictures tlieui as, both physically and mentally, a magnificent

race of savages. He shows that in the contrast between barbarism and civilisation j tbe advantages are not all on the one side, i Te Cora, tho Maori girl, is a more than pre sentable heroine'; and the author proves by ] more than one example the possession of a distinct gift of characterisation. But it is as a story of adventure that "The Shadow of Hilton Fenibrook" must be _ judged: and there is villainy enough "to sup-' Sly almost a dozen sensational novels. ' Ie Westbury handles his perhaps too abun- | dant material with the deftness of an old i hand, and is equally at home when the sensa- j tion of the moment is an exhibition of hypnotism, a description of the Maori war, or j an earthquake. "The Shadow of Hilton j Fernbrook" may be heartily reconinieuded to those who will shortly be in search of whole some holiday reading. { The popularity of the efforts of General Lew j Wallace and others to recast into fiction the j narratives of the Now Testament with the ostensible object of stimulating devotion, is provajd by their number; nor are we at all surprised to hear that Mrs. F. M. Kingsley's romance "Titus—A Comrade of the Cross" (Waid. Luck, and Bowden) has met with an enormous success. It is stated that in America upwards of a million copies hpve been sold. It is perhaps as well alone as such a work could be, and it fully deserves the eulogistic description of the Time* that "though closely following Scriptural lines, it shows real constructive talent and is written in a charming style." It offers tbe kind of read ing of which young people do not readily tire, and in its attractive cover should serve admir ably for presentation purposes during tbe coming festive season. Messrs. George Robertson & Co. have issued a new edition of a work, published originally a few rears ago, with the title of "Ironbark Chips and Stockwhip Cracks." It is a collec tion of Australian verses and sketches by G. Herbert Gibson, displaying various degrees of merit Some of the verses are clever, others we regret to say are dull, while others again cannot be acquitted of offending against good taste. But tbe illustrations by different artists are numerous and generally good, and Mr. Spence particularly knows his business as a black-and-white draughtsman. We have received from Messrs. Angus and Robertson, the publishers, copies of the most handsome editions yet issued of Lawson's "In the Days When the World was Wide" (6fth edition), Lawson's "While the Billy Boils" (fourth thousand), and Paterson'a " Man from Snowy River" (tenth thousand). All have been reviewed in these columns, and all that need be said is that in their fresh garb tbey should be even more popular than tbey are. As specimens of Australian literature they can be warmly recommended.

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