The lives and works of children’s book creators can offer plenty of drama and intrigue even to the most grown-up of readers. Here we round up several recent and forthcoming titles that engage with the authors and illustrators behind classic children’s literature, running the gamut from a biography of Maurice Sendak, a memoir on the pleasures of reading children’s books as an adult, to a literary critique of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series.
David Wiesner and the Art of Wordless Storytelling
Earlier this year, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art held an exhibition of the work of Caldecott Medalist Wiesner. This book, a catalog from the exhibition, contains reproductions of his pieces, as well as an in-depth interview in which the artist discusses his influences and the importance of wordless picture books.
‘Over the Hills and Far Away’: The Life of Beatrix Potter
Dennison’s volume is a retelling of the life of Peter Rabbit creator Potter, complete with illustrations. The book is aimed at adults as it goes into the themes of her books and how they related to significant events in her life.
There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak
In a unique take on a biography, journalist Cott draws on his real-life friendship with Caldecott Medalist Sendak. Cott traces the illustrator’s childhood and his life’s work, while also offering a unique angle on the man himself.
My Mother, the Bunny, and Me
Davis, the daughter of Pat the Bunny author Dorothy Kunhardt, offers a memoir that reveals a life spent in the realm of children’s literature, from her upbringing in an artistic home, to her education at the Bank Street School.
Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books
Nel’s latest work of literary criticism engages with the thorny topic of racism—both implicit and explicit—in classic works for young readers. Nel argues that children’s literature is an ideal medium to begin the work of shifting systemic attitudes toward race.
Discovering the Hidden Wisdom of the Little Prince: In Search of Saint-Exupéry's Lost Child
In this work of literary history, Lassus goes behind the internationally bestselling children’s book, The Little Prince, to demonstrate the influence of both history and events in the author’s life that molded the story.
Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult
Handy, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, has written a historical perspective on the golden age of children’s books. Looking at the shift that occurred in books for young readers from the Dick and Jane era to more subversive works from creators like Beverly Cleary and Maurice Sendak, Handy offers his own takes on favorites, while sharing anecdotes from the lives of authors who devoted their lives to crafting books for children.
Darkness Visible: Philip Pullman and His Dark Materials
This is the second revised edition of Tucker’s book that explores the themes of Pullman’s bestselling trilogy. Covering everything from the influence of Blake and Milton, to the philosophical underpinnings of religion, to the comic books and radio plays that inspired the author, Tucker provides an account for readers looking forward to the Book of Dust companion series.
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder
Fraser’s historical biography offers fresh insight on the Little House on the Prairie author. Using never-before-consulted materials, including financial records, newly discovered letters, and more, Fraser examines the historical movements that shaped Wilder’s life to draw a portrait of the artist and her influential books.