Against Defanging Children’s Book Authors
This Week on the NewberyTart Podcast
Each week on NewberyTart, Jennie and Marcy, two book-loving mamas (and a librarian and a bookseller, respectively), read and drink their way through the entire catalogue of Newbery books, and interview authors and illustrators along the way.
In this episode, Marcy and Jennie talk about the 1983 Newbery Honor book, Doctor De Soto by William Steig.
From the episode:
Jennie: That’s something that I think we’ve maybe never talked about, but something that I find again and again. If someone creates children’s literature or pictures for children’s books, I feel like somehow society as a whole defangs them, like somehow makes them into affable, marshmallowy grandparent figures. But you have Steig and then you had Maurice Sendak. I’m not saying that they’re not good people by any means, but they’re not just little fluffy cloud people. They’re really funny—very cutting and funny and smart and shrewd.
Marcy: They have some bite.
Jennie: I think also, as you know, when someone becomes elderly, people seem to discount them, too. But in a lot of cases, these very witty children’s authors have kept their really biting wit. And kids respond to that. Kids love it, because there’s a little bit of a lack of a filter that kids respond to.
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William Steig (1907-2003) was a cartoonist, illustrator and author of award-winning books for children, including Shrek!, on which the DreamWorks movies are based; the Caldecott Medal-winner Sylvester and the Magic Pebble; The Caldecott Honor book The Amazing Bone; and the Newbury Honor Books Abel’s Island and Doctor De Soto. Stieg also published thirteen collections of drawings for adults, including The Lonely Ones, Male/Female, and Our Miserable Life.