Sunday Reading: Children’s Literature | The New Yorker


In 2008, Jill Libor published The Lion and the Mouse, a captivating essay on the mid-century controversy that helped reshape children’s literature. Lepore describes how the publication of EB White’s classic “Stuart Little”, about an adventurous “child rat” born into a family in Manhattan, caused a stir among critics and librarians because of its unconventional (at the time) mix of fantasy and fantasy. reality. White’s book raised questions about which adults should decide what is appropriate for children (parents, librarians, or editors?), Or whether this responsibility rests with the children themselves. One way to read Stuart Little, Lepore notes, is “as a condemnation of the childhood of children’s literature and events of American culture.”

This week we bring you a selection of pieces about the vibrant world of children’s literature – which, at its best, always challenges genre norms and the expectations of young readers and their parents. In Between the Wild Things, published in 1966, Nat Huntoff explores the radically innovative literary style of author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. (“The young people in your support books – especially the books he writes himself – are sometimes confused and lonely. They slip easily into delusions and out of them, and sometimes they are wild and stubborn”). Angel’s creative vision and examination of the lasting impact of her popular novel, Wrinkles in Time, and her follow-ups. In Far From Good, published in 1928, Dorothy Parker reviews AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh series and provides a scathing critique of “The House at Pooh Corner.” In Beatrix Potter, novelist Laurie Colwin writes about the naturalistic approach of the author of the classic Peter Rabbit series. (“The book began as a letter to a young boy named Noel Moore, who was recovering from an illness.” Dear Noel, the letter begins. “I don’t know what to write to you, so I’m going to tell you a story about four little bunnies whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter.”) In Judy Bloom’s Wonderful Girls, Anna Holmes describes how Bloom revolutionized both youth and adult stories by clearly presenting the inner lives of her female protagonists. Finally, in “How Gyo Fujikawa Directed Freedom in Children’s Books,” Sarah Larson narrates how the Japanese-American artist, who sent his parents and brother to concentration camps in 1942, became one of the nation’s most beloved children’s illustrators. (“Fujikawa’s illustrations depicted children of all kinds, on adventures of all kinds.”) Collectively, these pieces offer unique insights into this wonderful genre; We hope they add a little bit of glamor to your weekend getaway.

– Erin Overby, archive editor

Image via Sam Falk / The New York Times / Redux

Maurice Sendak’s Wonderful Imagination.

Truth and Fiction Books by Madeleine Langer.

Photography by Lyon Neal / AFP / Getty Images

Our recurring hero Winnie the Pooh.

How the famous children’s book author revolutionized the imagination of young people.

Drawing by Ian Falconer

The battle that reshaped children’s literature.

Text / Illustration by Gyo Fujikawa / Courtesy Sterling Publishing Co.

The artist, whose career blossomed even while her family was imprisoned during WWII, remained in tune with the child’s way of seeing the world and found a way to paint a better picture.

Peter Rabbit was never written for her young readers and nature has not bleached for them.

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