Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult (Hardcover)

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Some children's books never lose their magic; in Wild Things, Bruce Handy revisits these classics for a fresh look. With warmhearted ease, Handy journeys through a brief history of children's literature, from Aesop and the Brothers Grimm to Cleary, Sendak, and more. He illuminates not only the development of language and craft within the genre, but also the shifting cultural context around the stories themselves. Handy's writing is engaging and natural, a perfect fit for his subject. For those of us who never lost our affection for the stories of our youth, this book is a welcome guide to a return voyage. -Julia

— From Fall Booknotes 2017


An irresistible, nostalgic, insightful--and totally original--ramble through classic children's literature from Vanity Fair contributing editor (and father) Bruce Handy.

"Consistently intelligent and funny...The book succeeds wonderfully." --The New York Times Book Review

"A delightful excursion...Engaging and full of genuine feeling." --The Wall Street Journal

"Pure pleasure." --Vanity Fair

"Witty and engaging...Deeply satisfying." --Christian Science Monitor

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 Wild Things, Bruce Handy revisits the classics of American childhood, from fairy tales to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and explores the backstories 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 link 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, Wild Things will bring back fond memories for readers of all ages, along with a few surprises.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781451609950
ISBN-10: 1451609957
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 15th, 2017
Pages: 336
Language: English