Noel Streatfeild May Lamberton Becker - Essay

May Lamberton Becker

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

I do like a book that takes me into a family—one that I like—in the first chapter. Before it is over in ["Tennis Shoes"] I not only knew, but had determined to keep on knowing, this family in the suburb of Tulse Hill….

The children were variously gifted…. The twins, Jim and Susan, at nine were already showing signs of amazing good tennis. Nobody in the doctor's family had much money, and tennis—as you are to discover if you did not know it before—runs into money if you take it seriously. So their grandfather sets up a bank like a house, into which every member of the family puts every spare coin, so the twins can belong to a club. The ways in which money goes in and out of this bank are delightful. The children keep on steadily learning, not only about tennis—the book is equal to a course of personal lessons—but about the right way to grow up in the right kind of family. You chuckle constantly over the unexpectedness of what the children do and the rightness with which they are handled….

When an English writer of adult fiction writes for children he is likely to lose the condescension too often displayed by the English who write only for them, and give young folks stories that measure up, in technique and in interest, to anything offered their elders in the same field. A tennis fan of any age plunges through this story; like "Ballet Shoes" last year it will be read by any one in the family who gets a good look at the first page.

May Lamberton Becker, "Books for Young People: 'Tennis Shoes'," in New York Herald Tribune Books, July 10, 1938, p. 6.