Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is really “Top Ten of the Most Unique Books I’ve Read”, but I find it hard to define what I consider unique, since it’s all relative anyway. So I’m doing ten books I love from a particular shelf in my personal library – the children’s lit criticism – because I recently went to one of my favourite bookstores to find that it closed down, and another of my favourite bookstores to discover that they had two whole columns dedicated to children’s lit criticism, and it made me think about all of the books I haven’t read/owned.
Today, instead of worrying about that I decided to celebrate the books I already have, and love:
The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy by Leonard S. Marcus
This book contains interviews with thirteen of the best writers of children’s fantasy, ranging “widely over questions of literary craft and moral vision… their pivotal life experiences, their literary influences and work routines, and their core beliefs about the place of fantasy in literature and in our lives.”
Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood by Jane Yolen
This book is made up of a small collection of essays that I’ve really, really taken to heart. I’ve read many books on the functions of myth and folklore since my first encounter with this book, but this is still the one I find to be most insightful, and the truest.
Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: The Subversive Power of Children’s Literature by Alison Lurie
This collection of essays is more uneven, but still, this is one of my favourites to turn to. And the subversion of adult values in children’s lit? That’s one of my favourite things to read about.
Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children’s Literature by Leonard S. Marcus
There will be quite a few Leonard Marcus books in this list. This one, I’ve mentioned in my last TTT post – a book on Children’s book publishing, and all the booksellers, educators, librarians, and editors that shaped it until it became what it is today. This book is very US-centric, which is unfortunate, but the fact that it exists at all is amazing to me – maybe it makes me such a Hermione, but it’s one of my favourite reads.
Caldecott and Co.: Notes on Books and Pictures by Maurice Sendak
This is a collection of essays by Maurice Sendak, who is mostly known for his picture book Where the Wild Things Are. This book is divided in two parts – the first containing writing about artists and illustrators Sendak admired or was inspired by, and the second containing essays/speeches/articles/etc by Sendak about writing and illustrating children’s books.
Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom by Leonard Marcus
Collected/curated by Leonard Marcus, this book is basically what its subtitle says it is – the letters of Ursula Nordstrom. Ursula Nordstrom was the Director of Harper’s Department of Books for Boys and Girls (1940-1973) and is a legend in children’s book publishing. She had discovered/nurtured/worked with many of my favourites, from Maurice Sendak to Shel Silvertein, Margaret Wise Brown and Louise Fitzhugh.
So Much To Tell by Valerie Grove
A biography of Kaye Webb, founder of the Puffin Club. I think I’ve written about this book before – I am somewhat obsessed with Puffin books, The Puffin Post, and the Puffin Club, after all. Because Puffin was just one part of her life, it didn’t even take up half of the book, but the rest of it made for interesting reading anyway.
Drawn from the Archive: Hidden Histories of Illustration by Sarah Lawrance
A collection of behind-the-scenes stories and art of some of the best picture books and their creators. This book includes artists from Edward Ardizzone to Judith Kerr, so this is one of my favourites to just flip through every time I need to cheer up.
100 Great Children’s Picturebooks by Martin Salisbury
This is a recent addition to my shelves, but it’s already one of my favourites, especially because it is SO VERY GORGEOUS, and it includes やこうれっしゃ, one of my favourite picture books in it. (Most of my favourite picture books are included in various collections, but this is the first time I found やこうれっしゃ in one!) The range covered in this book is very broad, which makes it very good reference material too.
Four British Fantasists: Place and Culture in the Children’s Fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones and Susan Cooper by Charles Butler
This book is such a delight, although I guess many would consider it too academic. I read only the DWJ bits first, then went back to the beginning and read the whole thing. And now that I’m thinking about it, I feel like re-reading it again…