Finding MORE Children’s Literature in Unexpected Places
Not long after starting my new job with the Evanston Public Library system I wrote a post called Unexpected Jolts of Children’s Literature in Rather Adult Places. The impetus came from the fact that within the capacity of my new job I see quite a bit more adult literature than I ever did back at NYPL. But like some perverse kidlit dowser I can’t turn off my continual need to find children’s literature references in everything I see. Here are some more books that owe a great deal of credit to books written with young people in mind.
Mostly I’m just happy because this is a mystery set in my old stomping grounds but there does appear to be at least one children’s literature connection. In this tale a woman is murdered in Bryant Park and another elsewhere. Kirkus goes on to say, “What was the killer of the two women looking for? The leading candidates are a priceless 1507 map that the library didn’t even know it had and an edition of Alice in Wonderland that’s not suitable for children. The exact identity of the murderer’s target, however, is less interesting than the incestuous web of relations among the library’s trustees…” Library Journal added that the detectives’, “investigation leads them to the New York Public Library, where they discover the magnificence and secrets that lie within this historic landmark. As they travel through hidden passages, marvel at rare antiquities, and uncover decades-old secrets, their adventures are reminiscent of the quests of Indiana Jones or National Treasure.” I’m still wondering about that unsuitable edition of Alice in Wonderland . . .
Apparently this book contains the question, “Why read The Wind in the Willows when you can be Ratty or Mole?”
As Kirkus responded, “It’s not quite on the order of ‘because it is there,’ but it’s a good enough rationale for adventure and a fine note on which to begin.”
Admittedly, this one’s more on the YA side of things. Now we’ve seen a LOT of Peter-Pan-as-bad-guy books and television shows lately. It’s not a particularly new idea, but it gets the job done. This is the first in a series, apparently, and a gory one at that. And speaking of gory . . .
I sort of love this one , mostly because PW in a bit of inspiration described it as, “it’s as though Brian Jacques and Quentin Tarantino went drinking one night.”
To be fair, check out the author on this one. Yep. Catherynne M. Valente. The description from the publisher reads, “A New York Times bestselling author offers a brilliant reinvention of one of the best-known fairy tales of all time with Snow White as a gunslinger in the mythical Wild West.” Sort of resembles an adult companion to Rapunzel’s Revenge, doesn’t it? Well, have no fear. She gets her own adult book too.
This last one is my favorite, by the way.
Admittedly I was kind of hoping that this would be a story about Scrooge opening up his own detective agency with the help of his ghostly friends (whom he can now see). It’s not quite that, but I wasn’t disappointed. Check out the publisher description:
“Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol investigates a shocking murder—before he becomes the next victim—in this playful mystery in a new series from aNew York Times bestselling author.
Scrooge considers himself a rational man with a keen sense of deductive reasoning developed from years of business dealings. But that changes one night when he’s visited by the ghost of his former boss and friend, Fezziwig, who mysteriously warns him that three more will die, and ultimately Ebenezer himself—if he doesn’t get to the bottom of a vast conspiracy.
When he wakes the next day, Scrooge discovers that not only is Fezziwig dead, but he’s under arrest as all evidence points toward himself: Scrooge’s calling card was found in the cold, dead hand of Fezziwig’s body, and someone scribbled “HUMBUG” in blood on the floor nearby.
Now, Scrooge must race against the pocket watch to clear his name, protect his interests, and find out who killed his last true friend—before the “Humbug Killer” strikes again. Joining Scrooge in his adventures is a spunky sidekick named Adelaide, who matches his wits at every turn, plus the Artful Dodger, Fagin, Belle, Pickwick, and even Charles Dickens himself as a reporter dealing in the lurid details of London’s alleyway crimes.”
When I was a kid my family saw what, to this day, can only be described as the most wonderful/horrible version of A Christmas Carol of all time. About ten of the parts were all played by the same guy doing some pretty half-hearted quick changes, but my heart was won when, at the beginning, Fagin (Fagin?) appears on the stage and he and his kids (including an “Olivia”?) sing a rousing rendition of “Consider Yourself” to start the show. Reading the description of this book, I’m experiencing flashbacks.
Extra points for Adelaide, the “spunky sidekick”.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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