Unexpected Jolts of Children’s Literature
Even after all these years of purchasing adult materials for my library system, I still find it strange that I don’t buy books for kids anymore. Fortunately, I just can’t help but love finding references to children’s books everywhere I go. Today I return to an old series where we look at titles written for adults that have some connection to the wide and wonderful world of books for kids. There are some true beauties on the roster today, so let’s dive in!
First up . . .
Murals of New York City: The Best of New York’s Public Paintings from Bemelmans to Parrish by Glenn Palmer-Smith, photos by Joshua McHugh
This book sounds like a mural version of my Complete Listing of All Public Children’s Literature Statues in the U.S. You know, I missed the Parrish when I lived in NYC, but I did at least make it to the Bemelmans Bar once while there. Back in 2012 when I conducted the 100 Picture Books Poll, I wrote the following on my Madeline post:
There are many fine and fancy places to visit here in New York, but one of the finer establishments would have to be the Bemelmans Bar. Bemelman painted it himself and the bar’s website has this to say about the arrangement: “Bemelmans transformed the bar with clever, whimsical scenes of Central Park (including picnicking rabbits). Instead of being paid for the art, Bemelmans exchanged his work for a year and a half of accommodations at The Carlyle for himself and his family.”
The Swallowed Man by Edward Carey
One of these days I need to bite the bullet and just read an Edward Carey novel. The man has a tendency to vacillate between writing for children and for adults and sometimes the two get a bit mixed. Case in point, his latest.
Now if any of you reading this are (A) parents and (B) parents that tried to read your children the original Pinocchio, you may understand my ambivalence towards that particular classic. That puppy is wuh-eird (though I harbor a great love for the Kate McMullan/Pascal Lemaitre version). Now Mr. Carey has written a book for adults from Geppetto’s p.o.v. And if you know the original tale, it isn’t going to be a laugh riot.
The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin
Kirkus dismissed it and called it “disappointing”. Library Journal called it “absorbing” and gave it a star. My opinion? Haven’t read it myself, so I’m not sure what to think of it. Here’s the plot:
“Cinderella married the man of her dreams–the perfect ending she deserved after diligently following all the fairy-tale rules. Yet now, two children and thirteen and a half years later, things have gone badly wrong and her life is far from perfect. One night, fed up, she sneaks out of the palace to get help from the Witch who, for a price, offers love potions to disgruntled housewives. But as the old hag flings the last ingredients into the cauldron, Cinderella doesn’t ask for a love spell to win back her Prince Charming.
Instead, she wants him dead.”
Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology by Jess Zimmerman
At first I was confused about why I included a book that takes its basis in Greek myths. Then I read the fact that “Electric Literature editor-in-chief Zimmerman blends memoir and cultural criticism in a wide-ranging feminist analysis rooted in her youthful love of D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths.” Oooooh! This is a book that, as Library Journal said, “examines misogyny through the framework of Greek mythology.” And when it comes in I’ll be sure to check out
Parent Like It Matters: How to Raise Joyful, Change-Making Girls by Janice Johnson Dias
Remember Marley Dias, the girl that launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign? Well, her mom just wrote a book with a one-two punch of an introduction by Jackie Woodson and a blurb on the cover by Kwame Alexander. It’s a parenting book, and one that’s been getting multiple starred reviews.
The Life She Wished to Live: A Biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Author of The Yearling by Ann McCutchean
Hard to remember now but when The Yearling was published it won a 1939 Pulitzer Prize. Not too shabby for a children’s book. In this bio we learn how Rawlings chucked convention (and her mom) and went off and bought an orange grove all for herself. I think some of us can relate.
The Hummingbirds’ Gift: Wonder, Beauty, and Renewal on Wings by Sy Montgomery
And just to round it all off, I am pleased to report that there’s a new Sy Montgomery book for adults on the horizon. I only really ever read her children’s books, but I can attest that her adult fair, like The Soul of an Octopus, gets a LOT of attention from my patrons.
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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