Do you know the 18th century brother and sister writing duo whose classic is still in print despite her murdering their mother?* How about the Unitarian minister, defrocked for molesting boys in his parish, who went on to pen a smash series of books about boys who are guided to wealth and respectability by caring older gentlemen?** I just finished reading Wild Things:Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta where you’ll find these steamy tidbits as well as hundreds more, funny, amazing, and outrageous.
Wild Things reminds us that, for all the “fuzzy bunny” world we imagine and want children’s books to be, they are written, illustrated, sold, and reviewed by adults, with all their normal, adult human foibles. When the reality smacks up against the fantasy, some are rewarded, some slapped on the wrist, some ruined, and some ignored.
Where did Max come from? What’s wrong with celebrities writing picture books ( particularly you, Madonna)? What are some of the delicious hidden “messages” in some popular books? How did Harry Potter hit so big ( and what did the series earn for J.K. Rowling)? How did the 60’s change children’s lit?
If these and similar questions make your curiosity antennae start twitching, you are the reader this book has in mind.
* Charles and Mary Lamb Tales From Shakespeare
** Horatio Alger
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