Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an AdultBruce Handy
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...a charming, discursive encounter with classic children’s literature from the perspective of a parent ... For parents who are embarking on this phase of rediscovery, for those in the thick of it, and for those for whom it is a warm and recent memory, Wild Things will be a delightful excursion. Mr. Handy writes with zip, sincerity and good humor. He has a gift for witty phrasing ... engaging and full of genuine feeling.
In the Great Green RoomAmy Gary
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIf the measure of a good life story is the longing it leaves in the reader to have known the subject, this one more than succeeds ... what some readers may feel a weakness of the book: that only at the very beginning and very end of In the Great Green Room do we hear Brown’s own voice. Each chapter starts with a bit of her poetry, including some unpublished verses, which is something, but in following the events of her life, we are vouchsafed only Ms. Gary’s representation of her thoughts and feelings. Through a publicist, the author explains that she wanted to keep the reader 'in the moment with Margaret' and that the abundance of her sources made paraphrasing the best course. Still, we may feel a bit wistful, as we finish reading this fascinating account, that we weren’t able to get somehow even closer to the undoubtedly bold and brilliant Margaret Wise Brown.
There's a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice SendakJonathan Cott
RaveThe Wall Street JournalTheir perspectives on Sendak’s work, juxtaposed with Mr. Cott’s own exchanges with the artist, illuminate Sendak’s books and psyche to remarkable effect. Enriched throughout with images of Sendak’s art, the book will be catnip for those who already admire him. Non-enthusiasts who never warmed to his more discomfiting books as children or, as adults, to either his work or his irascible manner may find themselves surprised, sympathetic and enchanted ... In this riveting account of Sendak’s vision, Mr. Cott captures the pain and glory of the creative process: moments of soaring grandiosity and times of grinding struggle, of words and images that won’t come or that come in the wrong way.
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...[a] gripping, vivid and upsetting book ... The author also makes wonderful use in this book of what must surely be his most enchanting contribution to literature: the daemon...For the novelist, and for the reader, daemons add a rich textual dimension: betraying the dark heart of a smiling villain; creating the opportunity for dialogue when a person is otherwise alone; allowing a character to hear and see things that his human senses might miss ... 'I’m profoundly interested in religion,' Mr. Pullman has written, 'and I think it’s extremely important to understand it. I’ve been trying to understand it all my life.' That is the strange beauty, the fearful symmetry even, at the heart of his novels about Lyra. Philip Pullman is a Jacob, wrestling with an angel: He grapples and battles in the darkness, but he cannot let go.
Turtles All the Way Down
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIn Turtles All the Way Down, Mr. Green shows the same writerly panache, but there is a bruised weariness in his principal characters that creates a more subdued experience for the reader ... This being a John Green book, the dialogue is snappy and sophisticated, and the characters invested with a sensibility, articulateness and aspirational range of reference that are so appealing to intelligent young readers ... Having wept through The Fault in Our Stars in both its book and movie versions, enthusiasts will want to know: Does Turtles All the Way Down offer the same sort of cathartic transport? It doesn’t, but perhaps it couldn’t. While there is tenderness and wisdom here, and a high quotient of big ideas, too, the stakes are lower, and so the drama is somewhat diminished ... There is arduous and unhappy turmoil aplenty in Turtles All the Way Down, but by the end readers ages 14 and older will find themselves, like Davis and Aza, in a place of hopeful ambiguity.