I haven’t posted a passage of the week in some time, but it turns out that’s okay. Yesterday, at my local bookstore, I accidentally happened upon the passage of the month, of the year — and maybe even of the century. I found it at the front of a book that I randomly pulled off a shelf. It’s title? Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature. Never before have I come so close to calling in sick to work so I could spend the day reading. As it was, I only had time for a quick flip-through. But that’s all I needed, because within just a couple pages, I found these three lovely sentences from the great Maurice Sendak:
You must tell the truth about a subject to a child as well as you are able, without any mitigating of that truth. You must allow that children are small, courageous people who deal every day with a multitude of problems, just as adults do, and that they are unprepared for most things. What they yearn for most is a bit of truth somewhere.
It’s not at all surprising that such sentiments came from the mouth, heart, and mind of a man such as Sendak, but to find one of your deep feelings or strong beliefs captured so accurately by somebody else is always a joy. The experience also brings about a kind of relief. And I’m relieved, too, that I reached for this book and pulled it off the shelf. While I’m sure it was only a matter of time before I came across Wild Things!, I’m glad I didn’t have to wait another day.
Having had some time last night to sit down and actually start reading the book, I can now rightfully recommend it. I doubt anyone who visits this blog regularly will need much convincing to go pick up their own copy, but I should add that Wild Things! is written by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta — a trio who, all together, currently wear or have worn in the past about fifty different children’s literature-related hats. They’ve written previous books, penned reviews, maintained hugely (and justly) famous blogs, worked as children’s librarians, teachers, interviewers, and more. In this new collaborative project, the team shares a heap of wonderful information, offers countless profound insights, and generally enriches the reading of, writing of, and conversation about children’s literature.
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For more thoughts on the importance of respecting young readers, click here.