Prisoner of Grace, Except the Lord and Not Honour More, by Joyce Cary (New Directions, $7.95 each). This is Cary's so-called "Second Trilogy," published in his last years, beginning in 1952 (he died in 1957). It charts the family history of Chester Nimmo, onetime pacifist and Christian left-winger, now hooked on retaining political power; his strong- willed wife, Nina Woodville, and the dissolution of their marriage; and Jim Latter, soldier and imperial civil servant who hates the "grabbers and tapeworms . . . sucking the soul out of England." The series forms a tragicomedy of English family life in the years between the world wars, by one of this century's masters of the English novel.
Victory Over Japan and The Annunciation, by Ellen Gilchrist (Little, Brown, $7.95 apiece). Gilchrist won the American Book Award for Fiction last year for Victory Over Japan, a collection of 14 somewhat interrelated stories. They are about Southern women in various states of rebellion and disarray, and they are are as daring and wickedly funny as their subjects; admirers of Gilchrist's first collection, In the Land of Dreamy Dreams (which was reissued by Little, Brown earlier this year), will find many familiar characters and pleasures. There are fewer such pleasures, unfortunately, in The Annunciation, the author's first novel; for 130 pages it is pure Gilchrist -- sharp satire of life among the Southern privileged, and sensitive depiction of a woman's efforts to figure out just who she is -- but for the remaining 220 pages it dissolves into a most uncharacteristic mush featuring long stretches of ill-digested pop psychology. Read the first third and forget the rest. CHILDREN'S
The Pain and The Great One, by Judy Blume, illustrated by Irene Trivas (Dell Yearling, $3.95; ages 6-9). These two side-by-side stories are written from the point of view of, first, a big sister, and then a little brother. The "Pain" is the kid brother, who, according to his elder sister, is destructive and babyish, and the clear favorite of their parents. The "Great One," from the brother's vantage point, is snooty and officious and the clear favorite of their parents. The illustrations capture the competition between siblings in the most whimsical and amusing way.
The Children on the Top Floor, by Noel Streatfield (Dell/Yearling, $3.25; ages 9-13). This later addition to the Streatfield canon joins her Ballet Shoes and various other "shoes" books in paperback. She is, as always, charming, nostaglic, firmly moral and very English. The four babies abandoned on the doorstep of television celebrity Malcom Master have a devoted nannie and act in commercials in return for clothing and furnishing. Substitute television for ballet and the plot is rather a pale shadow of Ballet Shoes without the strong personalties of the three Fossil girls. Master, like Great Uncle Matthew, gets shipwrecked, disappears and leaves the children to earn their own living. All's well that ends well, of course, and Rose the governess is a real charmer, as is Bunting the poodle.
Dinosaurs, by Jasper Dimond (Prentice-Hall, $8.95; ages 8-12). This novelty book combines an intelligent text with illustrations which can be punched out and made into models of prehistoric beasts. These vary in complexity from a simple fold-over Iguanodon to a Triceratops in three parts. There are also punch out bushes, trees, and, most importatnly, plinths for mounting the monsters. When the dinasaurs have all been punched out and made, from the outside halves of each page, the cover folds over and you're left with a neat little book. A good choice for a rainy day. NONFICTION
Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, resident-Elect, 1890-1952 and Eisenhower the President, by Stephen E. Ambrose (Touchstone, $12.95 each). How a small-town boy from Kansas became generalissimo of a grand alliance that toppled Adolf Hitler's Thousand-Year Reich and how, later, as president he resisted all schemes to engage in a shooting war in Asia, or use nuclear weapons in support of the French in Indochina, though later, as an ex-president, he counseled President Lyndon Johnson to go all out for victory in Vietnam. The definitive life, somewhat plodding, though scrupulously fair.
The Silicon Jungle, by David H. Rothman (Ballantine, $3.95). Here is a grab bag of computer lore: the history of Kaypro, an anecdotal account of the invention of WordStar, tips from hackers, studies of how corporations, people and computers interact, surveys of software, computers in management, and more. Sprightly, thorough reporting on a fast-changing industry. Those fascinated with computers might also check out Engines of the Mind, by Joel Shurkin (Washington Square, $4.95) for a history of such calculating machines, from Babbage to von Neumann.