cover image Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature As an Adult

Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature As an Adult

Bruce Handy. Simon & Schuster, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4516-0995-0

In an article about why he chose to write for children rather than adults, Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, acknowledged the “low pay, low status” accorded his profession. As if to redress this state of affairs, Handy, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, does his part here to give the iconic authors of children’s literature their due in his spirited, perceptive, and just outright funny account of reading childhood favorites through adult eyes. He takes readers from the first books of childhood—such as Margaret Wise Brown’s classic Goodnight Moon, Maurice Sendak’s surreal Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, and the dizzy, euphoric invention of Dr. Seuss’s works—to the chapter books of Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and E.B. White. He asserts that these works represent a shift from the dull realm of the Dick and Jane storybooks to more complex and idiosyncratic material. Biographical sketches of the authors complement thematic analyses of their works. Interestingly, most of the authors profiled here had no children of their own, but nonetheless had a great understanding of children’s feelings and viewpoints. Handy’s breezy, friendly style lends the book a bright feeling, as of old friends discussing old friends, and this book will surely leave its readers with a new appreciation for childhood favorites. [em]Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Talent. (Aug.) [/em]