When asked by students of medicine to name a reliable, readable and adequately comprehensive text book of clinical paediatrics we have, in the past, been forced to recommend the least unsatisfactory among the large number of not quite good enough books on the market. Those available always seemed to be too long or too brief, too dogmatic or too discursive, too practical or not practical enough, too selective or too all-embracing. Despairing of this, many of us have attempted writing books of our own only to discover how difficult it is to find the right formula for the general reader seeking a text to reinforce his particular clinical experience. The paragon among books that we would all wish to lay our hands on will probably never be written, but this book, written by my colleagues in Cambridge Dr Nick Barnes and Dr Cliff Roberton, comes very close to the ideal and is certainly my best buy in its category. From it we receive succinct, convincing and helpful accounts of nearly all the conditions affecting children that matter in practice in the sense that ignorance of their existence, importance and significance would materially affect our competence. The writers are obviously extraordinarily well read in the relevant original papers; unlike many learned authors, they have a good nose for the relevant fact and a sure sense of proportion. Their tone of voice, while authoritative, is not provokingly dogmatic and does not challenge accepted truth without justification.