Wild Things
An irresistible, nostalgic, and insightful and totally original ramble through classic children s literature from Vanity Fair contributing editor (and father) Bruce Handy.In 1690, the dour New England Primer, thought to be the first American children's book, was published in Boston. Offering children gems of advice such as Strive to learn and Be not a dunce, it was no fun at all. So how did we get from there to Let the wild rumpus start ? And now that we're living in a golden age of children's literature, what can adults get out of reading Where the Wild Things Are and Goodnight Moon, or Charlotte's Web and Little House on the Prairie?In Goodnight Nobody, Vanity Fair contributing editor Bruce Handy revisits the classics of every American childhood, from fairy tales to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and explores the back stories of their creators, using context and biography to understand how some of the most insightful, creative, and witty authors and illustrators of their times created their often deeply personal masterpieces. Along the way, Handy learns what The Cat in the Hat says about anarchy and absentee parenting, which themes are shared by The Runaway Bunny and Portnoy's Complaint, and why Ramona Quimby is as true an American icon as Tom Sawyer or Jay Gatsby.It's a profound, eye-opening experience to reencounter books that you once treasured after decades apart. A clear-eyed love letter to the greatest children's books and authors from Louisa May Alcott and L. Frank Baum to Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, Mildred D. Taylor, and E.B. White, Goodnight Nobody will bring back fond memories for readers of all ages, along with a few surprises.

Wild Things Details

TitleWild Things
Author
ReleaseAug 15th, 2017
PublisherSimon Schuster
ISBN-139781451609950
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Books About Books, Childrens, Adult, Criticism, Literary Criticism

Wild Things Review

  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
    January 1, 1970
    For a person who loves (LOVES, even) reading about children's literature like me, this book was a prized find at the Texas Library Association Conference. It was the first book I had to read when I got home.Handy is a knowledgable person about children's literature and he shares the wide research he did on the authors and books in Wild Things.It's an amazing read for those of us who know and love Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, C. S. Lewis, and others. You will get all the backst For a person who loves (LOVES, even) reading about children's literature like me, this book was a prized find at the Texas Library Association Conference. It was the first book I had to read when I got home.Handy is a knowledgable person about children's literature and he shares the wide research he did on the authors and books in Wild Things.It's an amazing read for those of us who know and love Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, C. S. Lewis, and others. You will get all the backstories. You will get all the details from the author bios you didn't know or suspect. It will be fun.But......if you are like me, Handy may be a tad too opinionated at times about some of your favorites. You may feel (I did) a twinge of irritation now and then. It's okay. Those little zips of annoyance are rare. For the most part, I loved this wonderful book about kiddie lit.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    Delightful! This was warm and accessible and funny. I didn't agree with everything the author says (HE DOESN'T LIKE ANNE!!!!!) but I forgive him. He gets children, and children's books, and Little House!!!! He opened a chapter that was mostly about Charlotte's Web with Sunday school-book excerpts from those awful holy-child-who-patiently-dies-young books. Fantastic book. If you like children, like to read to children, or have fond memories of the books you read as a child, you need this. Favorit Delightful! This was warm and accessible and funny. I didn't agree with everything the author says (HE DOESN'T LIKE ANNE!!!!!) but I forgive him. He gets children, and children's books, and Little House!!!! He opened a chapter that was mostly about Charlotte's Web with Sunday school-book excerpts from those awful holy-child-who-patiently-dies-young books. Fantastic book. If you like children, like to read to children, or have fond memories of the books you read as a child, you need this. Favorite quote: One thing I hope to convey is the sheer pleasure of reading children's books, not just to whatever children you have on hand but also for your own enjoyment and enlightenment. As Ursula K. LeGuin has written, "Revisiting a book loved in childhood may be principally an act of nostalgia; I knew a woman who read The Wizard of Oz every few years because it 'made her remember being a child.' But returning after a decade or two or three to the Snow Queen or Kim, you may well discover a book far less simple and unambiguous than the one you remembered. That shift and deepening of meaning can be a revelation both about the book and yourself." Having recently had an online argument with a woman who wanted there to be no young adult or children's books, and who bragged about skipping children's books as a child and going straight to adult books, I was especially glad to get this celebration of children's books by a well-read and literate author. The best children's books are magical for children AND meaningful for adults. My children did not always have exquisite taste, but I so remember the joy of sharing my favorites with them. I remember how hard it was to read that stupid book 100 times a week, and how pleasant it was to read the fine ones over and over. I sincerely hope I am never too old to delight in good books, no matter for whom they were originally intended.
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  • Jeffrey
    January 1, 1970
    Don't bother with this tedious, critically vapid and utterly stupid book - Handy is an appallingly bad reader and I can find nothing good to say about this book at all - it is joyless, trivial and given the state of children's literature shows no understanding of the field or the texts - Handy doesn't have any insights at all into this fascinating genre worth listening to and his book is a total waste of timeThis would be a perfect book to use with undergraduates to show how not to read children Don't bother with this tedious, critically vapid and utterly stupid book - Handy is an appallingly bad reader and I can find nothing good to say about this book at all - it is joyless, trivial and given the state of children's literature shows no understanding of the field or the texts - Handy doesn't have any insights at all into this fascinating genre worth listening to and his book is a total waste of timeThis would be a perfect book to use with undergraduates to show how not to read children's literature but really Handy tells us far many times that it took him six years to write this book - this is a very poor return - if this is a clear eyed love letter to children's literature, God help us all
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  • Rose Ann
    January 1, 1970
    The author lost me when he stated that he could not get more than 30 pages into "Anne of Green Gables" and yet he had the nerve to make a snarky remark about Anne later on in the book! Hello? What a gasbag!
  • Denice Barker
    January 1, 1970
    I am a reader. I read books. I read book reviews and I read about books. Reading books to children is golden. Perhaps it was with this in mind that when Mr. Handy revisited children’s literature when reading to his own children, he had a different perspective on what he remembered as a child. That is only logical and perhaps this is what sparked the idea for this book. I was allowed to read an advance copy of Wild Things and put everything aside to read it when it arrived. Mr. Handy introduces I am a reader. I read books. I read book reviews and I read about books. Reading books to children is golden. Perhaps it was with this in mind that when Mr. Handy revisited children’s literature when reading to his own children, he had a different perspective on what he remembered as a child. That is only logical and perhaps this is what sparked the idea for this book. I was allowed to read an advance copy of Wild Things and put everything aside to read it when it arrived. Mr. Handy introduces this book by introducing us to the first book published specifically for children in 1690. It reads pretty much like an adult shaking a finger in a child’s face while saying: Strive to Learn. Use no ill words. Tell no lies, etc. Our children are so lucky! Wild Things is presented chronologically, beginning with Goodnight Moon, a book he adores and which was definitely not a favorite with my children. But reading this, I learned a lot about what we missed and why we should have liked it. I thought right here, at the very start, that looking at a book written for a child and read to a child would look very different as an adult. And it was with this book that the author introduced us to how he was going to handle this book. We would be given the back story of the story and the author. We would learn a lot about the authors. I loved that. 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. You can give a book with a boy as the main character to a girl and she will accept it but generally, you can’t give a book to a boy about a girl and expect him to read it. Even Kindergarteners will groan if you pull out a “pink” book for storytime. If an animal is the character they will all accept it. Right or not, that’s been my experience.) I loved learning about Dr. Seuss, Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, and was very disappointed that the one book that never left me, Little Women was one he couldn’t find many good things to say about. He didn’t like it, I loved it. 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. This book was funny, thoughtful, truly celebrates how lucky children today are to have the literature they have available to them, admonishes us to read children’s literature again for ourselves, and it was much too short. I would love a book dinner with this author. I probably couldn’t keep up with him on a scholarly level, but on the emotional level, I could. The bibliography alone is worth the price of the book.
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  • Trin
    January 1, 1970
    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. 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 was equally entertained and delighted by Handy's biographical sketches, criticism, and analysis. 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 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.
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  • Chel
    January 1, 1970
    What a delicious book! I paid full price for the epub version (something I rarely do these days) based on Jennifer Senior's mixed-opinion NYTimes review, in which she complains about its being too clever and glib. That review made me want to decide for myself. I do not share her complaints, but I was not reading it as a children's librarian or a teacher selecting titles for a book list. I was reading it in the sense in which I believe Bruce Handy wrote it--for pleasure. (Well, he did have a cont What a delicious book! I paid full price for the epub version (something I rarely do these days) based on Jennifer Senior's mixed-opinion NYTimes review, in which she complains about its being too clever and glib. That review made me want to decide for myself. I do not share her complaints, but I was not reading it as a children's librarian or a teacher selecting titles for a book list. I was reading it in the sense in which I believe Bruce Handy wrote it--for pleasure. (Well, he did have a contract and I trust he gets paid, but if he makes money, he deserves it.) The book is something like taking a tour through a country that you visited long ago in companionship with someone who is more recently familiar and can tell you what you have forgotten, didn't notice, or background information and subsequent developments since last time you were there. He can tell you what his own kids enjoyed most on their last visit and fill in the dirt about why Fodor's left a certain byway out of their most recent travel guide. The conversation is fun, even if you don't always agree with your companion's tastes, and even though you don't have time to go everywhere you want to revisit. I was disappointed that he left out Roald Dahl, E. Nesbitt, and a number of other favorites (he apologizes for this), but you can't go everywhere. The footnotes are some of the best parts.
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  • Janis
    January 1, 1970
    For those of us who love children’s books, Bruce Handy’s Wild Things is a pure pleasure! He revisits classics from Margaret Wise Brown, Sendak, Potter, Seuss, and many others, offering biographies and comparisons and often-offbeat analysis (he totally had me when he compared The Runaway Bunny to Portnoy’s Complaint). Read it and smile!
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  • Sarah Harrison Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Bruce Handy is such a funny, smart writer that I whipped through this in two sittings. He doesn't try to cover the entire history of literature for kids -- acknowledging that much of the early stuff is awful -- but looks carefully at what he chooses to focus on. I loved his chapter on Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder especially, and he's spot on about Beverly Cleary, whom he compares to Henry James (with shorter sentences). You may disagree with his opinion of "The Giving Tree," or "Oh Bruce Handy is such a funny, smart writer that I whipped through this in two sittings. He doesn't try to cover the entire history of literature for kids -- acknowledging that much of the early stuff is awful -- but looks carefully at what he chooses to focus on. I loved his chapter on Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder especially, and he's spot on about Beverly Cleary, whom he compares to Henry James (with shorter sentences). You may disagree with his opinion of "The Giving Tree," or "Oh, The Places You'll Go" but if you like children's books, you'll love "Wild Things." Please see my full review: http://www.omnivoracious.com/2017/08/...
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  • Marty Suter
    January 1, 1970
    Really enjoyed this romp through many of my favorite children's lit, reminiscing about reading many of these titles to my own kids (Goodnight Moon, Ramona the Pest, Where the Wild Things Are..., among others). Although I didn't agree with Handy's take on all the books (I actually liked Anne of Green Gables), he billed it not as a best of list but a review of simply his favorites. Great background info on the authors and illustrators of these classics! And I'm sure I'll go back and re-read many o Really enjoyed this romp through many of my favorite children's lit, reminiscing about reading many of these titles to my own kids (Goodnight Moon, Ramona the Pest, Where the Wild Things Are..., among others). Although I didn't agree with Handy's take on all the books (I actually liked Anne of Green Gables), he billed it not as a best of list but a review of simply his favorites. Great background info on the authors and illustrators of these classics! And I'm sure I'll go back and re-read many of these titles (and even some I haven't gotten to). Highly recommended...
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  • Laura Beasley
    January 1, 1970
    Lovely. I agree with many of his observations. As a grandmother, I have read many of these books. This would be a great book for an expectant parent or new parent. Fun gift for a baby shower. I always give books at baby showers!
  • Maryallyn
    January 1, 1970
    This "appreciative" paean to children's literature is itself a joy to read. Bruce Handy's love of his subject is evident on every thoughtful page. The book is a subtle recommendation for having kids, if for no other reason than the license that gives one to savor once more as a grown up the joy to be found in reading children's literature, both familiar and new.Although this is a small thing, I must say how much I loved Handy's placement of his footnotes at the bottom of each page. That techniqu This "appreciative" paean to children's literature is itself a joy to read. Bruce Handy's love of his subject is evident on every thoughtful page. The book is a subtle recommendation for having kids, if for no other reason than the license that gives one to savor once more as a grown up the joy to be found in reading children's literature, both familiar and new.Although this is a small thing, I must say how much I loved Handy's placement of his footnotes at the bottom of each page. That technique enhanced my reading pleasure and proved to me the ultimate sincerity of Handy's joy in reading children's literature as an adult and in passing the torch to a new generation by doing so.
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  • Lisa Wright
    January 1, 1970
    This book is just a pure pleasure to read if, like me, you love kids books. Handy has an easy, friendly voice and a wealth of information, but mostly it is just fun to follow him as he passes from personal memory to parental memory. He talks about his surprise when he discovered that the Little House books were NOT girl books, but adventure packed stories that boys would love if not for the wussy covers (though not so with Anne of Green Gables, those really ARE girl books.)
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Monica Edinger
    January 1, 1970
    (FYI I did not read this twice. No idea why goodreads wants to say I did --- can't seem to get rid of it. Oh well.)Handy has an elegant writing style and wry sensibility that made this an easy and enjoyable read. Yet upon reflection I do wonder about his choices --- all very familiar and traditional ones. He touches here and there on other books, but only in passing. For example, he spends a lot of time with the Wilder books and then touches upon Mildred Taylor's series. So, for all that I enjoy (FYI I did not read this twice. No idea why goodreads wants to say I did --- can't seem to get rid of it. Oh well.)Handy has an elegant writing style and wry sensibility that made this an easy and enjoyable read. Yet upon reflection I do wonder about his choices --- all very familiar and traditional ones. He touches here and there on other books, but only in passing. For example, he spends a lot of time with the Wilder books and then touches upon Mildred Taylor's series. So, for all that I enjoyed his commentary (even while often disagreeing with him), I do think this was a lost opportunity to broaden the canon by exploring more deeply titles like Taylor's. Or how about some by Woodson, Myers, and Erdrich?
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    4.5* I could have used a little more analysis and a little less about each author's personal background, but this was such a great nostalgia read. I've read and enjoyed nearly every book the author discussed, and reading this book was a pleasurable reminder of how great those books are. The author's writing is very smooth and engaging as well. Recommended to people who love books.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting thoughts about our childhood books and stories about the authors.
  • Robin Tierney
    January 1, 1970
    Notes - not a review:Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature As an AdultBruce HandyMargaret Wise Brown, Goodnight MoonSophisticated, cafe society, carried a surprise like a basket with a kitten.Experience life, fresh springs of imagination, through new eyes, new ears.20 minutes first draft, 2 years polishing.A flirtation with painting….not want to teach kids but learned she liked their stories.Stories like Dick and Jane did not prepare us for adult society.She wrote The Runaway Bun Notes - not a review:Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature As an AdultBruce HandyMargaret Wise Brown, Goodnight MoonSophisticated, cafe society, carried a surprise like a basket with a kitten.Experience life, fresh springs of imagination, through new eyes, new ears.20 minutes first draft, 2 years polishing.A flirtation with painting….not want to teach kids but learned she liked their stories.Stories like Dick and Jane did not prepare us for adult society.She wrote The Runaway Bunny on the back of a ski lift ticket.Great illustrators.The book covers passage of time and takes readers from indoor to outdoor world. About noises.Hurd the GM illust studied with Fernand Leger. Brown’s art instructions attached reproduction of Goya’s Boy in Red. Died: can can kick in hospital to demo her recovered robustness dislodged blood clot.Maurice Sendak’s brilliant book resulted from a practical concern: Where the Wild Horses Are...he couldn’t draw equine anatomy.The Runaway BunnyAttachment, newborns don’t differentiate between self/beingness and otherness.Renderings of figures with Botero heavinessDisney domesticated the fairy tale.Snow White a simp.Grimm tale The Juniper Tree: stepmom kills son, feeds to dad in brothTalking animalsAesopBeatrix Potter - code writing criticize classic ptgs -wouldn’t give a tuppence - just a curiosity. She didn’t like trousers on animals, worked up innovative color schemes. Mr Rabbit ‘put’ in a pie. No fear of traumatizing young readers. Tug o war between civility and beastly urges.She looked down upon Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows, she wouldn’t put pants on a toad.Aflac duck, Geico gecko, New Yorker and edit cartoonsGeorge Orwell’s anti-Stalin allegory 1945 Animal Farm.Black Beauty 1877 Anna Sewell told story in horse’s own voice, suffering, details of a=carriage bondage.The Call of the Wild, Watership Down.BambiLassie Come HomeAesop may not have been 1 person. Fables first written 300 BCE: Morals, human foibles represented by greedy Dog and his Reflection, The Fox and the Grapes spite, Humble virtues like The Tortoise and the Hare (slow and steady wins the race)....Olivia the PigDr Seuss - middle name zoyce pronounced.Antisocial behavior rampant in children’s books, such as one with animals balancing apples and such on their heads on tightrope and others running for them with baseball bats, racquets, tire irons.Suess:Moral underpinningsVerbal inventions.Mothers absent, neglected children alone with doors open.His mother: My mother over-indulged me. Saying: Anything you do is great, just go ahead and do want you want. Which seems like a recipe for raising either a genius or a monster.Hollywood Army Signal Corps frank capra, treatment for Rebel without a cause.Heroic flights of fancyTrouble with anatomy, did his way, by late 1950s $200,000 on brat booksIllustrating for mags, one: Goah, dissolute brother of Noah, imagined genial characters boarding in pairs like drunken stupor. Among early cartoons riffing on the dt’s delirium tremens.Recombinant pet menagerie of Yertle the Turtle, Horton.Revolutionize teaching reading: Dick and Jane poor boys stuck with hanging at home with 2 girls. Suess fantasy and fun ills and language.Dickensian (child) crueltyGreen Eggs and Ham - copublisher Bennett Cerf dared him to write a book with only 50 words. Sam I am I am, rhyme, alliteration.Oh the Places You’ll Go last book 1991, as if ghost-written by Mitch Albom.Beverly Cleary, Ramona, Henry Huggins, lives about ‘go out and play,” uncomplicated age before ritalin.Ramona the Pest - masterpiece, gets inside of protagonist’s head.tantrums, dark moods, Parallels with Adventures of HuckFinn.Kids being kids.Louis Darling, also illstratged Silent Spring.All of books are her favorites, or she woiuldn’t have written them.Newbery and Calidicott awards“The day was perfect -- well, not really, but close enough.”C.S. LewisThe Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Chronicles of NarniaGod faith interwoven, real to fantasy worlds. Mirror.Aslan Bambi expose to major character’s death. Resurrection.The Last Battle: Christian allegory to Book of Revelations: beast, false prophet, clash of civilizations, end of world, rebirth.Wizard of Oz, Baum, Judy Garland imbued Dorothy with longing, pluck, forthrightness (George Cukor told her “Be yourself”)Baum churns out marvel after marvel, travelers united on a journey through wonders and surprises, obstacles, fears, overcome. Seeking their missing pieces: tin woodsman ….Scarecrow ...lion courage….. Dorothy home. Compares to Henry Ford of children’s fantasy.Parallel Oz to Monticello Thomas Jefferson.Trump PT Barnum of presidents/leaders.Little Women Louisa May Alcott…Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls WilderResourceful dad, violent past, Indians….Peter Pan JM Barrie, never grow up, like holden Caulfield, any seth rogan will ferrell jonah hill movie scriptPuberty between juvenile and adultery.THe Dead Bird - Margaret Wise Brown - not fly or sing anymore, children funeral sing, visited grave every year, until they forgot. No corny platitudes.Charlotte’s Web, death dignified.Noone was with her when she died.Her babies were born. Wilbur befriends them. EB White. (wrote for Harold Ross, The New Yorker)He intended the tale to celebrate life, and not be a moral tale, animals amoral. Weept but enjoy.“An appreciative tale.”Maurice Sendak - fan mom wrote him: little boy liked your letter so much he ate it, the ultimate compliment.Little people are primal, passionate.So many children’s book authors were childless.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    After reading Wild Things, I cannot wait to read and in most cases re-read some of the children's books he detailed. Wild Things must have been a joy to write. Handy talks about the books he had read as a child and has read to his own children with such regard for both the story and its author. It is very obvious that this book is well researched, but Bruce Handy's own opinions are incorporated as well. I do not agree with all his views (I loved Anne of Green Gables), but each story means someth After reading Wild Things, I cannot wait to read and in most cases re-read some of the children's books he detailed. Wild Things must have been a joy to write. Handy talks about the books he had read as a child and has read to his own children with such regard for both the story and its author. It is very obvious that this book is well researched, but Bruce Handy's own opinions are incorporated as well. I do not agree with all his views (I loved Anne of Green Gables), but each story means something different to each reader. For me, I am going to first re-read A Wrinkle in Time...Last Stop on Market..Charlotte's Web..Anne of Green Gables..Ramona the Pest...Green Eggs and Ham..The Dead Bird..The Birchbark House..Fantastic Mr. Fox.....
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  • Stacy
    January 1, 1970
    I truly enjoyed this discussion of the world of children's lit. I love YA, but the author discusses Charlotte's Web, Little a Women, and such in ways I had not previously considered. Also, it's funny (The mother in The Cat in The Hat, who leaves her kids in the care of a talking fish, is described as "the mother whose house all the kids would go to to smoke weed In high school.").
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  • Lisa Houlihan
    January 1, 1970
    So far (p. 37) this is about books and their authors and less about the joy of reading children's literature as an adult. So the subtitle is inaccurate, but I'm enjoying the book.
  • Grace
    January 1, 1970
    A book that appealed to the strong nostalgia I have for the books of my childhood (as evidence are my two largest Goodreads shelves that are just books from my childhood, organized by picture books and chapter books, which I continually add to whenever I remember another book I loved). This was a meandering and mostly fun book about some classic children's books and their authors. There were a few chapters that I felt were too disjointed and didn't flow very well (and there were way too many foo A book that appealed to the strong nostalgia I have for the books of my childhood (as evidence are my two largest Goodreads shelves that are just books from my childhood, organized by picture books and chapter books, which I continually add to whenever I remember another book I loved). This was a meandering and mostly fun book about some classic children's books and their authors. There were a few chapters that I felt were too disjointed and didn't flow very well (and there were way too many footnotes for my liking), but it eventually picked back up and read very quickly. There was a lot of interesting details about authors I never gave too much in depth thought to, like Margaret Wise Brown and Maurice Sendak (who sounds hilarious, by the way). This was not a complete accounting of the most popular children's books; Handy picked ones that had more personal meaning to him, as I think anyone would when writing a book like this. This also got me feeling so nostalgic that I'm finally starting my picture book library (thanks to Thrift Books).
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  • Emily Myhren
    January 1, 1970
    This book is far above any of its kind. I've read many books about children's literature that were informative, but not very entertaining. This is both. I especially enjoyed the Beverley Cleary chapter. I've read both her memoirs multiple times and many articles on her, and I was still able to learn something new. Thank you for writing this gem.
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  • Joann
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this book! It's full of interesting facts, it's easy to read and it's laugh out loud funny in parts. Made me want to reread favorite books and read ones that I missed reading. I especially appreciated the information about some of the children's book authors. I'm now going to read a biography of Margaret Wise Brown who sounds like a fascinating character.
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    Looks like it would just be a lot of fun to read!
  • Hanna Fogel
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars
  • Christa Sigman
    January 1, 1970
    I very rarely give a book five stars. I read all of the time and a book really has to impress me to get five stars. I have wanted to read this book since I read a review of it before it was even published. I have waited patiently for Queens Public Library or the NYPL to get copies into circulation and neither system has done it. I finally couldn't stand it any longer and actually purchased this book. I purchase books even less often than I give five star ratings. I was terrified I was going to b I very rarely give a book five stars. I read all of the time and a book really has to impress me to get five stars. I have wanted to read this book since I read a review of it before it was even published. I have waited patiently for Queens Public Library or the NYPL to get copies into circulation and neither system has done it. I finally couldn't stand it any longer and actually purchased this book. I purchase books even less often than I give five star ratings. I was terrified I was going to be disappointed by this book and then be mad that I spent money on it. I can say without any hesitation that if ten stars was an option that is what I would give this book. Mr. Handy, not to be creepy, but I found myself wishing we could sit down over a cup of coffee or a drink and discuss these books (and probably dozens you didn't have room to cover). I have been a fan of children's literature since before I could read. My wonderful husband started a picture book collection for me before we ever had children. I still pick up juvenile and young adult chapter books to intersperse with all the "Grown Up" books I read. Reading this book gave me so much insight into the authors, the background, and Mr. Handy's own perceptions. While I didn't necessarily agree with all of them (that would be boring), I definitely was immersed in the worlds of these stories through his eyes. Even more rare the five stars, or buying books, is me digging in my bag on the subway to find a pen so I can mark a certain passage. I even dog-eared a few pages (GASP). I would love to see another volume covering even more stories. I have added so many books to my "to read" list - either re-reads of favorites I haven't visited in a while, or books discussed in this tome that I just have to read! This was money well spent. I just wished I had a signed copy.
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you!I was very disappointed with this book. I was hoping for a well-written, interesting book about children's literature and how enjoyable it is to reread favorite works as an adult, as a parent, teacher or student. But this is not that book.While I agree with Handy's opinion of Margaret Wise Brown, I really don't agree with most of his other conclusions, especially that of C.S. Lewis and the Narnia series. A good reviewer should not let his p I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you!I was very disappointed with this book. I was hoping for a well-written, interesting book about children's literature and how enjoyable it is to reread favorite works as an adult, as a parent, teacher or student. But this is not that book.While I agree with Handy's opinion of Margaret Wise Brown, I really don't agree with most of his other conclusions, especially that of C.S. Lewis and the Narnia series. A good reviewer should not let his personal theological beliefs color a review of any work, and here Handy lets loose on Lewis calling him an apologist and criticizing the works because surely anyone who has religious beliefs cannot be taken seriously as a writer. While I understand that a 260 page book (that took 6 years to write) cannot cover all of children's literature, but to leave out wildly popular authors like Carolyn Keene, Brian Jacques, Madeline L'Engle, Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry, for whatever reason, is just not understandable. There are so many fantastic books for children, I know that not every one can be mentioned, yet Handy's choices are random and without an obvious plan. He states that he had not read the Little House books until he was writing this book, so it obviously is not a book about rereading childhood favorites. I also note that the writing is generally quite dull and littered with smarmy asides, which left this reader cold.One star only because of Margaret Wise Brown. And I do agree about the terriblness of books written by celebrities. Maybe I should give him another star because of that advice.
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  • Allison Parker
    January 1, 1970
    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... and don't buy books with sparkles on the covers." I'm assuming that B. J. Novak of The Book with No Pictures counts as a celebrity, and Bob Shea's clever Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great has sparkles GALORE, but I guess they are tongue-in-cheek sparkles, so 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... and don't buy books with sparkles on the covers." I'm assuming that B. J. Novak of The Book with No Pictures counts as a celebrity, and Bob Shea's clever Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great has sparkles GALORE, but I guess they are tongue-in-cheek sparkles, so that's likely not what Handy's referring to. I would change that advice to "don't buy books that promise 'STICKERS INSIDE!'", but I'm a children's librarian who must be at least a bit concerned with the practicality of processing and circulating books with disposable parts, or as I privately call those wretched 8x8" paperback TV-show-tie-ins, "garbage books." ANYWAY, I'm certainly quibbling unnecessarily at this last point! 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.
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  • Kristine
    January 1, 1970
    Confession. I mostly skimmed this book. Too many other books vying for my attention and I kept being pulled away and now this one is due back to the library. I volunteer at the library, mostly shelving kid's book. I often stop mid-shelving to reread a favorite that I once upon a time read to my daughters. I often stop and read the new kid's books that have arrived hot off the press. I buy favorites for newborns. And most often gift books for kid birthdays. Sometimes I've even thought that the 'b Confession. I mostly skimmed this book. Too many other books vying for my attention and I kept being pulled away and now this one is due back to the library. I volunteer at the library, mostly shelving kid's book. I often stop mid-shelving to reread a favorite that I once upon a time read to my daughters. I often stop and read the new kid's books that have arrived hot off the press. I buy favorites for newborns. And most often gift books for kid birthdays. Sometimes I've even thought that the 'best' kid books are really written for adults. The parts of this book I read were fascinating. I find Mr Handy to be a kindred spirit. But....how could he have neglected to mention the original Bemelman Madeline books? I do believe I can recite them from memory...from my own childhood readings and the ones to my daughters.
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