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The book continues marching through time with Fairy Tales and Maurice Sendak, then Beatrix Potter and talking animals in this, the author and I digress. I can agree with his scholarly take on why animals are book characters instead of people, but my take is much simpler. If an animal is the character they will all accept it.

I loved learning about Dr. Again, this is probably something to do with age. When given a book as a child that makes a huge impression on you, that book means something for the rest of your life. But he acknowledges people like me in his discussion. I would love a book dinner with this author. The bibliography alone is worth the price of the book.

Nov 09, Cheryl rated it liked it. I should have read the blurb more carefully: 'ramble' is indeed the correct word. The title would be more accurate as something like 'Things about Children's Literature that are more interesting to adults," you see. Whereas I was hoping for an argument to justify the Principle, the Broad Justification, of "reading children's lit as an adult. And I don't think I should have read the blurb more carefully: 'ramble' is indeed the correct word.

And I don't think I'll diss it, as some readers might indeed find more bits more interesting than I do. Some bookdart'd quotes: Otis Spofford , , features a working single mother, evoking Handy's admiration. I bet she's widowed; lots were in those days of fried breakfasts, martini lunches, and cigars after dinner.

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They are people, not a category. Now, I enjoyed that very old Newbery, but I agree that reluctant readers need more than one book! I need to find Mother Goose in Prose , by L. Frank Baum , in part because it was illustrated by Maxfield Parrish! The publisher thought it flat , so did I I do not enjoy writing 'moral tales' for the young, I do it because it pays well.

Detective were spoofs of Verne and Doyle, respectively. White said that Stuart Little is "[A] small guy who looks very much like a mouse, but obviously he is not a mouse. He is a second son. He might have said that only in defense of those squeamish about a mouse born to a woman. Or he might have wanted to be more biologically correct. He and Garth Williams had serious difficulty coming up with drawings of the spider Charlotte, as White wanted to be lifelike, realistic, and Williams wanted her to be attractive.

Well, those are the bits I found most interesting. Mostly it was a rather slow read for me. You might find different bits to interest you.


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If you bother with it. I can't particularly recommend that you either read or avoid it; you decide. There is an appendix of recommendations, a bibliography, and an index. Jan 26, Lydia rated it liked it Shelves: borrowed-from-the-library , non-fiction. This book is as American as apple pie.

It is wholesome, sweet and reminds me of all the comforts of home. This book overwhelms with its nostalgia. I found some of Handy's insights on some of the books he mentioned to be particularly interesting. I loved learning about Beatrix Potter and how she, at 18, would go to museums and art galleries and write in her journal that Michelangelo was an 'awful painter' and Raphael 'couldn't draw horses'.

She said, of Rubens, that his art 'lacked shadow, depth This book is as American as apple pie. She said, of Rubens, that his art 'lacked shadow, depth and was rather higgeldy-piggeldy. This book is a non-fiction examination of some childhood favourites.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Seuss, E. B White, C. Lewis, Shel Silverstein and more. Before reading this book, I would check the contents page to see if there are any books you don't want spoiled, because the author does pull passages from the books and invariably talk about their endings or spoil them in some way. I loved hearing about my favourite childhood books -- remembering old favourites and agreeing with Handy on many of his points. However, this book is so so so overwhelmingly white.

Apart from Shel Silverstein and Mildred D.

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Taylor who wrote Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, a newberry award-winning book that was a favourite of mine in and a few authors in the appendix, most of the authors mentioned in this book are white. I don't think that's necessarily Handy's fault, but it is a huge issue in publishing in general and deserves to be acknowledged. He does often refer to problematic content and, in one example, he actually gives an own voices recommendation instead of the book, which I really appreciated. But I did feel his privilege when he acknowledged some problematic content in books in a few sentences and then moved on.

It also became apparent that he really didn't like adaptations of most of the books he mentioned. Which is fine, but he spent a lot of time lamenting that his children preferred the Winnie the Pooh cartoon to the original stories. I feel like adaptations are just that -- adaptions.

And while many of the ones Handy spoke of were soaked in commercialism, pumped out because of their popularity, adaptions can bring new audiences to the original text. Adaptions may not render the text faithfully, but they don't always have to, and I think we need to relax about holding films and TV to the same standards which we hold books. She said, on a bookish website. And I don't necessarily think Handy dislikes adaptations, but that's just how it was framed in the text.

After that chapter, decrying his children preferring a cartoon of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to the original, Handy then proceeds to say that he fell in love with the Wizard of Oz the film, then went on to read the books. He adds that Judy Garland's Dorothy adds much more to the character, whereas Baum's is more of a tabula rasa, a window for the audience. Do you see how someone can enjoy a film adaptation and end up reading the book?

I think my issues are with the author more than the actual text.

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He called Donald Trump a con artist, which is relevant and gratifying, but a few pages later he said he couldn't get through Anne of Green Gables so I'm feeling a little conflicted on the man himself at the moment. But I did love learning about some of my favourite children's lit authors. It was obvious that a lot of research went into this and looking at the appendix was an absolute joy, because of all the book recommendations. I'm really looking forward to using this book in my YouTube children's lit video series. May 28, Jonathan Maas rated it it was amazing.

Namely, he took on the entire genre of Children's Literature. He starts with the very first Children's books, in the 18th century or so, which are little more than directives from 's The Primer: Cheat not in your play. Strive to learn. Play not with bad boys. Be not a Dunce. And yes, he starts with perhaps the greatest Children's book of all time, Goodnight Moon. What made Goodnight Moon, and other books, so great? If I could get one insight from Handy's book - and there quite a few - it would be this: the best children's book authors like Margaret Wise Brown write from the perspective of children.

There are talented writers out there, and there are writers who love what they do, but a good children's author? They need the talent and the love, but also the ability to write from the perspective of their target audience. Goodnight Moon's Margaret Wise Brown would spend a few hours writing her first draft, and then 1 to 2 years rewriting it. She would crouch down in fields and peek through grass to feel what it is like to be seeing the world from a child's eye again.

So a good writer would begin Goodnight Moon 'There once was a bunny who was very, very tired. In the great green room There was a telephone And a red balloon And a picture of The cow jumping over the moon That's how children see things - great green rooms, with balloons and pictures of cows jumping over the moon. If they are a bunny, or the woman in the room is a bunny, hey - that's the way it is. It need not be mentioned, because the child is four years old and accepts such things.

These authors didn't always have or even like children, but they expressed their love for children through their books Often times the greats didn't have children, or even particularly like children. But they loved their target audience, and would do everything for them.

I recall another character, not related - but quite parallel. He was a friendless, unlikeable fellow who was rather curt to everyone, to the point of rudeness. Oh, and he also strode right into the worst hit areas by cholera of the s, mapped everything out, told everyone else they were wrong about it being transmitted through foul air, and then demanded the water pumps in infected areas removed. Because John Snow was such a monumental prick, England never had another cholera epidemic again. My point is - people can express their love for humanity in different ways. Some give kids hugs. Some tell the powers that be off, and hrumph their way to saving millions of lives.

And some, like Margaret Wise Brown, kept away from children and bounced around in fields by themselves until they brought something to the world that helped out generations of children. And of course, Clement Hurd 's great illustration found a way to bring it all together. But back to Bruce Handy - this is but one of countless insights he brings to the table No spoiler alert here, because he gives a hundred insights, but here are a few insights I gleaned from this book.

The tales we like change while our needs change From this passage by Bruce Handy - Also, what we need from stories changes as we age. When we are very young, what we need are our parents. When we are older, what we need is to pull away from their gravitational field, or at least to try, and in the process kick up a little ruckus. In children's books, all parents are good, because we need them then. In YA, at least some are almost always bad because that is when we break away from them - even parental figures like the president in The Hunger Games. In older literature - parents get a more robust analysis - because we see them as a whole.

But on to this thought - I couldn't help but think of the works of old - Beowulf , Inferno , A Christmas Carol and virtually every book. They reflect what the society needs at the time. The world progresses in the s? Boom, we need Science Fiction, and here comes Jules Verne. Tolkien took the Fairy Tale back from the nursery Aesop's tales were the way to go, and then they went to be for children only.

Tolkien and a few others took them back, and for that we should be thankful. Frank Baum 's Oz held no hidden message - and that's what made it powerful Baum made his books from The Wizard of Oz series from pure imagination, and that was about it.

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He made them like an assemblyman from Ford's factory - he just pushed them out in a regular, efficient way. Baum was no C. Lewis with Lewis's allegories about religion. Baum was here to entertain, and that's about it. But somehow - that straightforward feel made him more powerful.

There is meaning in real entertainment, and Baum's tales, which were good for their own sake, had a great deal of meaning. But in short - this is an incredible analysis, and just makes you appreciate the tales more I love Bruce Handy's contemporary Dani Shapiro and Joan Didion , but their insights aren't always easy.

Shapiro talks about her marriage and life, and she writes about the difficulties so well that you begin to second guess your own. Didion gets to the heart of why the South isn't that great to visit, and then you don't want to visit the South. But there is no such price to pay with Bruce Handy's work. You love the tales, he explains why you should love them more, and then you love them more. He balances his memories of reading them as a child with readings as an adult - and there is no pretentiousness, no difficult to read analysis - just pure insight, delivered to you in the best way possible.

In short, he set the bar high when taking on an analysis of an entire genre, and he surpassed it. Like the books he covers, there is a universal positive impact on every page of this book, and I recommend it to anyone. I liked this book. The target audience will probably love this book. I read a lot of juvenile literature. Just tons of it. I've reread all my childhood favorites and now I'm working through the books that I didn't know about when I was a kid. BUT, that's why I'm not the target audience. This book is best suited for someone who hasn't gotten around to rereading all their childhood favorites yet OR for someone who didn't read many of the children's classics while growing up.

If you are a rational p I liked this book. If you are a rational person I'm really not you could also skip the chapters you just don't enjoy and then have a great reading experience. I insisted on reading the entire thing and such was my mistake. Chapters 1, 2, 9 and 10 were my favorites and are worth getting the book just for those. The rest of the chapters were mostly likable, but I could have enjoyed the whole book if I had skipped the Sendak chapter entirely.

This is simply because when you work around children's books, you end up discussing Sendak. I could go my whole life happily never discussing Sendak again. The problem with Sendak is that you'd be hard-pressed to find a child who actually enjoyed Sendak's most popular books. The ones that are more likable by children, like "Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters" just don't get very much discussion. Though, I will say that Pierre did get mentioned in this book, so that was a good thing.

I definitely recommend this to people who are thinking about rereading some juvenile fiction. You are the target audience. If most of what you read is juvenile fiction, then this book will feel like just more of the same. In that case, you can still read it if you don't insist on reading every chapter. I should have skipped the Sendak chapter. Apr 24, Trin rated it it was amazing Shelves: s , american-lit , booksaboutbooks.

Such a warm, funny, well-researched, and thoughtful as the author puts it appreciation of the best of 19th and 20th Century children's literature. I was equally entertained and delighted by Handy's biographical sketches, criticism, and analysis.

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It helps that his taste is impeccable. Handy's critique of Philip Pullman is much harsher than mine would be, but I can't say he's wrong. I'm an adult technically who buys children's books for a living, so for me there's the added bonus of this boo Such a warm, funny, well-researched, and thoughtful as the author puts it appreciation of the best of 19th and 20th Century children's literature.

I'm an adult technically who buys children's books for a living, so for me there's the added bonus of this book being a wonderful celebration of the things that make my job worthwhile, and of the perennial favorites it still gives me a rush of pleasure to put into eager new hands. Oct 11, Kirsten rated it it was amazing Shelves: my-recommendations , non-fiction. Bruce Handy provides fascinating back stories for many of our favorite books that we adults read as children, as well as a healthy dose of the importance and joy of reading to our kids.

Completely delightful. This book helped me realize exactly why I love my job as a children's librarian--Beverly Cleary, Margaret Wise Brown don't miss her story! And now, so many books I loved as a girl that I'm going to add to my "to read" list. Oh, and that othe Bruce Handy provides fascinating back stories for many of our favorite books that we adults read as children, as well as a healthy dose of the importance and joy of reading to our kids.

Oh, and that other thing about not wanting to let go of your grown children's childhoods--I came to the same conclusion. In the library, their childhood is all around me. Nov 14, Christie Angleton rated it liked it. Many of these essays are delightful, but Handy is a little too apologist when it comes to Dr Seuss. Oct 27, Lindsay rated it it was ok. I really am not exactly sure what to say about this book. I read it as part of a educator book club, and I was really hoping it would be a fun read that would focus mainly on how picture books can be meaningful, even for adults and older kids.

I guess it kind of touched on that, but it ended up being more of a hodgepodge of the author's endless opinion ramblings and verbosity combined with some trivia about the authors of famous, older children's books. I was left feeling like I learned some ra I really am not exactly sure what to say about this book. I was left feeling like I learned some random facts- some of which were interesting, some less so- and read a lot of academic jargon, but little else.

The author is obviously passionate and knowledgeable on this subject, but so much of this is his opinion that it's easy to tale with a grain of salt and discount. He waxes on about certain authors to the point of being overdramatic, even giving Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon credit for establishing a genre of comedy that led to Monty Python and David Letterman.

Yeah, still not buying that. He seems to have gained a major appreciation for Maurice Sendak that I just can't relate to. Some chapters were better than others to get through, mainly because the subject was more interesting Dr. Seuss or I shared in his enthusiam Beverly Cleary. There was a large section about older fairy tales that I thought didn't quite fit the rest of the book since they aren't often read in their original forms by children anymore. The titles he chose are definitely aimed at Gen X and older adults, since many of the books are fading in popularity with the younger set. All in all, this was kind of a big "meh".

It didn't help me as a teacher, and my limited time as an adult reader could have been better spent reading something I really wanted to read. Aug 30, Janis rated it it was amazing. Read it and smile! Jul 30, Susan rated it it was amazing. A must read! Makes you see and appreciate your childhood - and grownup - reading in a whole new way.

Such a cerebral but delightful blend of biography, criticism, history, and memoir. I am in awe of my brother Bruce. Jan 03, Tiffany Hough rated it really liked it. A worthwhile, enjoyable read. I will forgive the author for not appreciating Anne of Green Gables.

Dec 17, Elizabeth rated it it was ok. Not quite the book I was expecting. I wanted to give up many times but the last two chapters covering the Little House series and Charlotte's Web were the best. Sep 18, Allison Parker rated it it was amazing Shelves: nonfiction , adult. This was, indeed, a joy to read. I would call it a perfect reading experience, except for the "two final pieces of consumer advice," both of which I've found terrific counterarguments for: "Don't buy children's books written by celebrities Handy is funny, thoughtful, warm, and not overly nostalgic in his remembering, re-reading, researching, and critiquing of classic children's literature.

I was absolutely delighted by his voice and perspective. The spot illustrations by Seo Kim were a charming touch. This is one book I plan to buy and revisit again and again. Aug 05, Katherine Varga rated it liked it Shelves: I liked learning about how many children's book authors were gay!

This was a fun ramble through my childhood - I got to reminisce over the books I read a million times as a kid Beverly Clearly and peek inside the books I always saw on the shelf and ignored the Little House series. Handy's voice is playful but erudite, betraying a love of fancy words without trying to be too academic. It was fun to get more context about the authors and the writing of the books, although I wish Handy leaned a I liked learning about how many children's book authors were gay!

It was fun to get more context about the authors and the writing of the books, although I wish Handy leaned a little more heavily into a discussion of whiteness.

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He'd point out racism and then set it aside and move on. Mar 21, Heather rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , new-reads I enjoyed Wild Things tremendously -- it was like a really satisfying conversation with an old friend. BH and I agreed about nearly everything and our slight differences weren't enough to ruin my pleasure in the conversation. His writing style is conversational -- sometimes chatty -- but also incisive. He's a smart literary critic and also smart enough to avoid, mostly, writing like one. I'm also very excited by the bibliography and book lists in the back.

If I have one critique, it's that his bo I enjoyed Wild Things tremendously -- it was like a really satisfying conversation with an old friend.

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If I have one critique, it's that his book favors the old standbys. He's clearly appreciative of newer authors, but still ended up writing a book about Oz, Narnia, Goodnight Moon, and the March sisters. I want to hear about BH has to say about authors who don't have the same name recognition as Lewis and Baum. Nearby restaurants. Menemsha Fish Market. Larsen's Fish Market. Menemsha Galley. Aquinnah Shop.

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