More secret gardens;Children's books

22nd January 1999 at 00:00
The search for "hideaways" - corners in the house, dens or tree houses where children can hide from adults - is a fundamental childhood experience often explored by writers.

In The Sailing Ship Tree (Hamish Hamilton pound;10.99) Berlie Doherty relates how Dorothy and Walter, children of the butler in the Big House, share their joys and sorrows with the master's son in an old chestnut called the Sailing Ship Tree. Doherty weaves a moving saga set beside the River Mersey just before the First World War that is ideal for older primary pupils.

Joan Lingard creates a modern story of refuge for confident readers in Tom and the Tree House (Hodder pound;9.99). Tom, who is adopted, is beset with doubts about his relationship with his "parents" when they have a baby of their own. He builds a tree house, where he retires with all his hurts. Lingard's book sensitively handles some of the thornier issues arising out of adoption.

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