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Wild Things: The Joy of Reading…
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Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult (vuoden 2018 painos)

– tekijä: Bruce Handy (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
2191693,116 (3.79)15
"An irresistible, nostalgic, and insightful--and totally original--ramble through classic children's literature from Vanity Fair contributing editor (and father) Bruce Handy. 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, Vanity Fair contributing editor Bruce Handy revisits the classics of every American childhood, from fairy tales to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and explores the back stories 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 are shared by 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"--… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:LibrarianRyan
Teoksen nimi:Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult
Kirjailijat:Bruce Handy (Tekijä)
Info:Simon & Schuster (2018), Edition: Reprint, 336 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult (tekijä: Bruce Handy)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 16) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
This was the perfect book for me at exactly the right time, and I loved every page. Bruce Handy is a writer who has contributed to such publications as Vanity Fair, Time, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and others. This is an exploration of books he read and loved as a child, books he revisited when reading aloud to his children, and the experience of reading children's books in general. He covers the moralizing primers of previous centuries, the Dick and Jane books, fairy tales, fantasy, animal fiction, coming of age fiction, and explores the books, artwork, and lives of various authors such as Dr. Seuss, Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak, Beverly Cleary, C.S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Beatrix Potter, and more. The book is laugh-out-loud funny, frequently introspective, and acutely aware of its 21st century lens. Like Mr. Handy, I have cringed when I revisit old favorites that don't age well, and have been overjoyed when revisiting those timeless classics still as beloved to me in my 40s as when I was 8. And there are no joys quite like sharing those beloved stories with my own girls.

This is not an exhaustive thesis; the chapters should be read as essays rather than works of academia or journalism. Handy never hesitates to share his opinions and reactions, with which readers may agree or passionately disagree. It is liberally (and at times hilariously) footnoted. It almost exclusively focuses on literature from the mid to late 20th century as he traces the rise of the children's literature publishing industry (and if you love children's literature, then you know that the 21st century is something of a golden age for children's and YA literature). As with any book, the age of the intended reader matters, and I found myself appreciatively chuckling when he asserts that he doesn't love something but then again, he's not four. But the books that stand up to countless daily rereadings across the decades are rightfully lauded, and I love those as passionately as I ever did. His adult readings of classics he missed as a child are a mixed bag: he devoured the [Little House] series and regretted the reluctance by boys to read "girl" books, but had to skim [Little Women] and set aside [Anne of Green Gables] altogether. But those books were never written for the 50-something male, and I think there is something to certain books needing to be read at certain times of life. But when they are, and then are still as wonderful to an adult of any age, then they are something magical and joyful indeed.

Highly recommended, especially if you still love children's literature.

And that cover... is it brilliant in its simplicity and its instant evocation of an absolute classic, or just awful? I can't decide.
  AMQS | Mar 28, 2020 |
A fun and easy-to-read wander through some of the most iconic children's books, and why they still hold so much power and nostalgia in our collective culture. Handy does a good job at addressing some of the big 'themes' of kids' lit throughout several generations: the chapters each cover a broad concept children encounter in fiction like death, spirituality, adolescence, or animals and the natural world and link one or two authors to them. Although he spends a lot more time on books that were already fairly classic in his own childhood than on anything modern, he does throw a few contemporary mentions and recommendations in when relevant.

I enjoyed the 'heart' of this book a lot--the concept that books for children are by no means less complicated, important, or powerful because of their intended audience. The books we read when we're young often shape us immeasurably, whether we can look back and know it or not. Many of the stories Handy covers are ones I remember very fondly (Goodnight Moon, Beverly Cleary's books, the Little House series, and Narnia among others), and his exploration of them makes you see new power, depth, and importance in each work. Not necessarily that they are somehow overlooked works of writing genius, but more that they do their work of entertaining, enlightening, and teaching children in a way that doesn't condescend to their experiences or their needs extremely well. Which in its own way is kind of awe-inspiring, and definitely worth studying in my opinion. The way fiction shapes our lives is fascinating to me and always has been.

The only drawback of the book (and maybe unavoidable when you're reading one columnist's viewpoint) was a couple strong disagreements I had with Handy's takes on one or two titles, both of which were thankfully only brief asides/footnotes (his disdainful dismissals of L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and of Pullman's His Dark Materials if anyone is curious; both series were utterly foundational to me as a person, and his criticisms of them were too brief for me to get an idea of why he felt that way, leaving kind of a bad taste and wondering why he'd bother to mention them at all). At least Handy is very honest about his personal lens on the subject and mostly owns his opinions as opinions throughout the book.

All in all, I'd love to see and read more conversational 'meta' books like this that explore the importance of fiction to our collective values, culture, and even our lives and personalities. ( )
  booksong | Mar 18, 2020 |
This book is as American as apple pie. It is wholesome, sweet and reminds me of all the comforts of home. This book overwhelms with its nostalgia.

I found some of Handy's insights on some of the books he mentioned to be particularly interesting. I loved learning about Beatrix Potter and how she, at 18, would go to museums and art galleries and write in her journal that Michelangelo was an 'awful painter' and Raphael 'couldn't draw horses'. She said, of Rubens, that his art 'lacked shadow, depth and was rather higgeldy-piggeldy.'

SAVAGE, Beatrix.

This book is a non-fiction examination of some childhood favourites. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Dr. Seuss, E. B White, C. S. Lewis, Shel Silverstein and more. Before reading this book, I would check the contents page to see if there are any books you don't want spoiled, because the author does pull passages from the books and invariably talk about their endings or spoil them in some way.

I loved hearing about my favourite childhood books -- remembering old favourites and agreeing with Handy on many of his points. However, this book is so so so overwhelmingly white. Apart from Shel Silverstein and Mildred D. Taylor (who wrote Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, a newberry award-winning book that was a favourite of mine in 2017) and a few authors in the appendix, most of the authors mentioned in this book are white.

I don't think that's necessarily Handy's fault, but it is a huge issue in publishing in general and deserves to be acknowledged. He does often refer to problematic content and, in one example, he actually gives an own voices recommendation instead of the book, which I really appreciated. But I did feel his privilege when he acknowledged some problematic content in books in a few sentences and then moved on.

It also became apparent that he really didn't like adaptations of most of the books he mentioned. Which is fine, but he spent a lot of time lamenting that his children preferred the Winnie the Pooh cartoon to the original stories.

I feel like adaptations are just that -- adaptions. And while many of the ones Handy spoke of were soaked in commercialism, pumped out because of their popularity, adaptions can bring new audiences to the original text. Adaptions may not render the text faithfully, but they don't always have to, and I think we need to relax about holding films and TV to the same standards which we hold books. (She said, on a bookish website.)

And I don't necessarily think Handy dislikes adaptations, but that's just how it was framed in the text. After that chapter, decrying his children preferring a cartoon of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to the original, Handy then proceeds to say that he fell in love with the Wizard of Oz the film, then went on to read the books.

He adds that Judy Garland's Dorothy adds much more to the character, whereas Baum's is more of a tabula rasa, a window for the audience.

... do you see how this works, Handy? Do you see how someone can enjoy a film adaptation and end up reading the book?

ANYWAY. I think my issues are with the author more than the actual text. He called Donald Trump a con artist, which is relevant and gratifying, but a few pages later he said he couldn't get through Anne of Green Gables so I'm feeling a little conflicted on the man himself at the moment.

But I did love learning about some of my favourite children's lit authors. It was obvious that a lot of research went into this and looking at the appendix was an absolute joy, because of all the book recommendations. I'm really looking forward to using this book in my YouTube children's lit video series. c: ( )
  lydia1879 | Feb 1, 2020 |
7 stars: Good
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From the back cover: Like many avid readers,Bruce Handy had fond memories of iconic books by Dr. Seuss, Beverly Cleary, Maurice Sendak, and other children's authors. But when he became a parent himself, revisiting the kids books he'd been raised with, Handy realized that there was much more to them than originally met the eye.... Along the way, Handy learns what The Cat in The Hat says about anarchy and absentee parenting, which themes are shared by The Runaway Bunny and Portnoy's Complaint, and why Ramona Quimby is as true an American icon as Tom Sawyer or Jay Gatsby. Profound and eye opening, Wild Things is a love letter to the stories and authors who have shaped countless children and parents alike.

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I liked, but didn't love this book. I particularly found many of the first chapters to be a bit slow and his grouping of various books together didn't always make sense to me. having said that, upon completion I found that I had highlighted quite a few points, and want to keep for his remembrances and insights on various reads. I have myself read about 80% of the books mentioned, though there were a few I hadn't. In particular, I was fascinated by a picture book called "The Dead Bird" he mentions--it seems a perfect way to teach young children about death (in the book, a group of children find a very recently deceased bird, bury it, hold a funeral, and visit its grave regularly. I also particularly liked the chapter he did on Narnia--his love, hate, back to love relationship with the books roughly tracks mine as well. Definitely not the best book I read, yet I'm keeping it for now, so that does say something...

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Some quotes from within I'd like to remember:

"As we will see, the mother in "The Cat In the Hat" is so loopy she leaves her children in the care of a fish; hers will be the house where all kids go to smoke weed in high school."

"Anyone who read The Catcher in the Rye or The Outsiders as an adolescent will remember how those books crystallize the conflicting emotions, the yearning for security and the need to rebel, so endemic to that stage of life."

(Maurice Sendak observed the following) Disney has often been condemned for corrupting the classics, and he has, to be sure, occasionally slipped in matters of taste and absolute fidelity to the original. But he has never corrupted. If there have been errors, they are nothing compared to the violations against the true nature and psychology of children committed by some of the so-called classics."

"If kids are going to learn to read, they have to *want* to learn to read, which means they need stories worthy of their attention and sympathetic to their sometimes outre' tastes. One of Dr. Seuss' many gifts is that he shared those tastes... the hell with propriety. The hell with sentence structure. he hell with how it ought to be. Let me show kids what they already know, which is how cuckoo their world really is."

(As quoted by Louis Menard) "Every reader of The Cat in the Hat will feel that the story revolves around a piece of withheld information: what private demons or desires compelled this mother to leave two young children at home all day, with the front door unlocked, under the supervision of a fish."

"By all accounts [Dr. Seuss] liked kids fine but wasn't particularly natural around them or even very interested in them. he had no children of his own. His boilerplate response when asked about that: you have them, I'll amuse them."

[Discussing the ending of Cat in the Hat, where the kids contemplate whether to tell their mom what happens, and ends 'What would YOU do if your mother asked YOU?' ] "That Geisel leaves the question hanging--that he allows for the possibility that the kids might not tell their mom about the Cat..that they might LIE, could be this books most radical moment."

"Thus the dismay, even anger I felt when, while rereading "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe' for a children's lit class in high school, I now understood the whole enterprise as a Christian Trojan Horse. What had been rich and mysterious, strange and thrilling was revealed, in the unforgiving glare of teenage enlightenment, as phony and tawdry--as kiddie propaganda, lollipops spiked with dogma." [I just love that description!!].

"But the biggest surprise was finding myself charmed and persuaded by the religious undercurrents of Lewis' tales--in the sense that I am moved and persuaded not by the theology itself but rather by Lewis' ability to convey in tangible, organic terms what his religion means to him, what Christianity feels like for him. "

[Discussing Susan's exile from Narnia, for being 'grown up' and into 'girlish pursuits, which is described by Handy as being "the one sour note in the rapture"]. Lewis takes a preemptive swat at those who would argue that religious belief is childish, in the pejorative sense, when another character dismisses Susan with a huffy 'Grown up, indeed. I wish she would grow up.' The idea seems to be that adult concerns-lipstick, and ew, boys--are a distraction from the true wisdom that childhood itself is a higher plane of being. How patronizing it seems to me, and how sentimental."

"What does it say about the nation's psyche that in an age of terror, interminable war, and blue state-red state polarization, our superheroes have become so conflicted, tortured, and angry?"

[Anne of Green Gables] is here revealed as an early, prophetic version of the manic pixie dream girl archetype that would proliferate in the independent cinema of the early 21st century.

"On the subject of death I'm ignoring altogether the YA lists, where series such as The Hunger Games boast body counts that rival Shakespeare's or Thomas Harris's." ( )
  PokPok | May 27, 2019 |
This is one of those rare books that I love so much, and it was such a pleasure to read, that I'm legit surprised it didn't get 5s across the board from everyone. And I love Anne! (Apparently the determining factor for liking this book is whether you can accept that Mr. Handy didn't manage to get through Anne of Green Gables, comparing her to an early example of the manic pixie girl archetype, which, to be fair, he pretty much nailed.)

My dad's dying in the hospice, and I wanted comfort reading ... turns out reading about children's lit is even more comforting than reading the children's lit itself. And it doesn't hurt that (Anne aside) I'm with him on 98% of his opinions, to the point that I've talked myself into seeking out anything he's fond of that I'm not acquainted with.

One quibble: I'm not actually sure the subtitle is the correct one. I think the joy is expressly implicitly. It's mostly biography, a bit about what makes the book(s) great, and then on to similar authors--but so well expressed, so perceptive, and with just the exact-right-references ... really, it was a pleasure.

One other quibble: apparently without my noticing the "young adult" book market has embraced everything down to 12 (I still thought it was older teens) so by eschewing young adult fiction he's limited the conversation to books I read prior to age 8 (I was precocious), very junior fiction indeed. I'm hoping for a sequel that could include Diana Wynne Jones, Norton Juster, E.L. Kongisburg, Madeleine L'Engle, Ursula K. LeGuin, etc.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Sep 19, 2018 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 16) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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"An irresistible, nostalgic, and insightful--and totally original--ramble through classic children's literature from Vanity Fair contributing editor (and father) Bruce Handy. 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, Vanity Fair contributing editor Bruce Handy revisits the classics of every American childhood, from fairy tales to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and explores the back stories 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 are shared by 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"--

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