by Rita Donovan
ONCE UPON A TIME, LONG LONG ago, a child didn`t read"children`s books." She snuck into the adjoining bedroom, or down tothe basement, and found among scroungeable artefacts a copy of The Rubaiyat of 0mar Khayyam, an old ElleryQueen`s Mystery Magazine, a dog-earedand dog-stained Classic comic book edition of The Ox-Bow Incident. Becausethis is what she found, this is what she read, and children`s lit was takencare of for another day.
Today`s version of this fairy tale involvesspecialized books geared not only to "today`s youth" but to selectportions of the "market." Perhaps it was ever so (who would know,reading a brother`s borrowed Hardy Boys?), but of the eight books this reviewerreceived, a good five of them could be said to have targeted a special group orto have relied on a gimmick. They have varying degrees of success with thismethod.
But first to what, for lack of a better term, I`llcall the general books. The latest in the Mooner canon, Mortimer Mooner Makes Lunch (Bungalo Books, 24 pages, $4.95 paper), by Frank B. Edwards, seesMortimer making a bag lunch for his frazzled father. As father rushes to getready for work, Mortimer counts down the minutes with the urgency of a timingcoach. The bright, funny drawings by John Bianchi are full of movement and willdelight any child who enjoys watching a parent panic. And it comes with anundoubtedly kid-tested ending.
Money Midas (NorthernLights/Red Deer College, 48 pages, $12.95 paper), by Sonia Craddock, is a book that will appeal to olderchildren. A retelling of the Midas myth, complete with funky gilt drawings byDavid Shaw, it demands and rewards a child`s attention with a storyline thatmoves inevitably toward the complete despair the myth embodies, and beyond.Goldy, Money Midas`s daughter, "knows about wishes." Her point ofview will mirror that of most of her young readers, and this nice, unobtrusivedevice allows Goldy to guide her father, and the reader, through the story. Theextreme ending, with Goldy and her father surviving on bread and water, mightbe a little hard for some children to swallow - so to speak - butthe original myth had Midas going off to the fields to worship Pan. SoniaCraddock`s characters settle for a little panhandling.