Bridging the age gap;Reviews;Books

24th September 1999 at 01:00
FIFTY YEARS AGO series By Karen Bryant-Mole. At Home; Having Fun. Wayland pound;9.50. In the High Street; Going on a trip. pound;9.99 each YESTERDAY AND TODAY series. By Fiona MacDonald. School Days; What We Wear; Houses and Home; Going Shopping; Going to the Doctor; Toys at Playtime. Watts. pound;10.99 each

Tom Deveson looks at books about how we used to live

Grandparents talking to grandchildren - it's a simple but effective formula for introducing change and continuity in post-war life to readers in the infants. In each of Karen Bryant-Mole's new books an "I remember" section gives a platform to the older generation.

11 = There is much food for thought concerning notions of nostalgia and "progress". We assume that the world of black-and-white photo- graphs, along with utility clothes and food-rationing, was drabber than today's. But while discos may have replaced tea dances and Children's Hour has given way to the Internet, we no longer have safe streets and clean air.

Fiona Macdonald's series covers similar ground, though her books go back to the turn of the century without benefit of eyewitnesses. Glossaries at the back help with the relevant terms and concepts while timelines put the images into chronological context.

There are some nice pictorial pairings. Oxford Street in 1909 offers toffs in toppers while in 1999 we see juveniles in jeans. A bare 1930s children's ward contrasts with a colourful modern version.

But likeable and competent as these series are, do we need them? There are so many books telling us about dolly pegs and ration books. It would be nice to see pictures of Bevan and Beveridge too; after all, it's their world we have inherited.

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