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Pickle Me This

January 10, 2011

The Bob Dylan of children's authors

“This may sound disingenuous, but here’s the thing: When you are a small child besotted with books, the books themselves– especially the ones you love the best–are autonomous things, concrete yet abstract, like the stuffed animals and building blocks that help you travel to places where only you can go. At bedtime, you don’t ask your mom, “Read me some E.B. White.” You ask for Stuart Little, or Charlotte and Wilbur. You ask for a dog story; for Pippi, Babar, or–nowadays–Toot and Puddle. Your favourite characters–you know them. From a mile away, you could spot the Man in the Yellow Hat, Mrs. Mallard, Olivia or Ferdinand the bull; but H.A. Rey, Robert McCloskey, Ian Falconer, and Munro Leaf–who the heck are they? Authorial celebrity is sabotaged yet further when picture books lose their jackets… they shed their authors’ biographies as well. Many prolific children’s authors are also prone to changing dance partners–that is, illustrators– making their books even harder to see as distinctly their own. (Dr. Seuss may be the exception to this rule. Children become aware of him as a uniquely creative individual, perhaps because they hear their parents call the guy “a genius”. He’s the Bob Dylan of children’s authors, too eccentrically, definitively… well, Seussian… to be confused with anyone else.) “– Julia Glass, “Roar and More” from Bound to Last: 30 Writers on their Most Cherished Books.

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