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Children's Bookshelf A CHILD'S TREASURY OF POEMS, edited
by Mark Daniel (Dial: $14.95; 153 pp.; age 6-up).

February 22, 1987|KRISTIANA GREGORY

For a breath of nostalgia, open these elegant pages. More than 50 full-color reproductions of oil paintings from the Victorian and Edwardian eras are paired with a treasure chest of poems ideal for reading aloud to children. Selections from the 19th and early 20th centuries spotlight Thomas Hardy, Tennyson, Kipling, Wordsworth, Robert Louis Stevenson and 14 other literati, many of whom are women.

Mark Daniels has done a fine job of retrieving the lullabies, jingles, Mother Goose rhymes and prayers that make you feel as though you've just napped in Nana's nursery. Credit must also be given to Roger Daniels for the book's design, as the period engravings and art are beautifully arranged among the writings. Poet bios, and an index of painters and first lines, further dignify this hardcover.

Most of the paintings have never been seen by the general public, as they've been resting on the walls of private collectors. The art is breathtaking, as if you've parted the curtain on a window for a peek into another age. Percy Harland Fisher's view of sisters in their long white nightgowns opening their cottage door illustrates Stevenson's "Bed in Summer." "The Wind" (Christina Georgina Rossetti) sits within a lovely double-spread of Arthur Hacker's girl daintily trying to rescue her parasol from a lake. All but a few pieces feature children in old-fashioned settings going about the timeless, joyful job of childhood: playing with friends, tending animals, studying, daydreaming.

For youngsters who need rowdy, bright illustrations to keep their interest, "Treasury" might seem too much like sitting still in a museum: It's good for character, but they won't stomach a daily dose. Never mind them, though, for besides introducing a bit of culture, adults will enjoy the luxury of a field trip without seat belts and bag lunches.

TO SPACE & BACK by Sally Ride with Susan Okie (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard: $14.95; 96 pp.; age 6-up). Spectacular color photos help readers understand exactly what it's like up there orbiting Earth. Kids will love the details about blast-off. Life without gravity is an adventure in itself: Spilled orange juice floats around the shuttle, it takes two to make a peanut butter sandwich, and there's a curious technique to "going to the bathroom."

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