The Paris Review Daily

Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’

Salty Language for Kids, and Other News

February 5, 2014 | by

children swearing

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The Golden Age of Soviet Children’s Art

July 18, 2013 | by

Inside the Rainbow: Russian Children’s Literature 1920–35: Beautiful Books, Terrible Times is a stunning compendium of illustrations from the twenties and thirties. As Philip Pullman writes in his introduction,

In the dark and dangerous world of revolutionary Petrograd, a group of Russian poets and artists, among the greatest of the century, came together to create a new kind of book for children about to enter a Brave New World.  These artists and writers dreamed of endless possibilities in a new world where children and grown-ups alike would be free from the bitterness of ignorance. For a time, when children’s publications still escaped the scourge of state censorship, their books became a last haven for learning, poetic irony, burlesque and laughter.

 

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In Memoriam: E. L. Konigsburg

April 26, 2013 | by

E. L. Konigsburg’s death last week, at the age of eighty-three, provoked a special kind of reaction. The loss of a collective piece of our childhood can be hard to articulate, because the connection is primal, the feelings and memories intensely personal. You remember the thrill of hearing From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler read aloud in fourth grade, and reading Father’s Arcane Daughter over the summer under a tree, or Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth in the school library. There is the delight of recalling her strong, interesting characters, many of them outsiders coping with realistic childhood situations. There is the unpreachy inclusion of history and culture. There are the shockingly uncommercial titles. And, of course, the bone-deep weirdness. (To anyone who disagrees, revisit Up from Jericho Tel. I did.) Like all great children’s writers, Konigsburg never patronized her readers. But she did even more than that: she not only encouraged breaking from the ordinary, but modeled it.

 

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Paula Fox and the Gift of Understanding

April 5, 2013 | by

paulafoxThis year our Spring Revel will take place on April 9. In anticipation of the event, the Daily is featuring a series of essays celebrating Paula Fox, who is being honored this year with The Paris Review’s Hadada Prize.

When I saw the film adaptation of The Hunger Games last year, I left the theater feeling uneasy about the shaky-cam, blurry, PG-13–sanctioned violence of kids killing kids. It was videogame violence, the sort that disappeared in the span of a moment, not the sort of savagery that hits you in the gut, makes you understand what the cost of violence can be. Weeks later, the film did not sit well with me, lingering as a mediocrity only made palatable by the endless soul of Jennifer Lawrence’s presence onscreen.

And after rereading Paula Fox’s The Slave Dancer, a 1974 Newbery Award–winning children’s novel, I wonder, seriously, what she would make of the glib work aimed at children these days, particularly the uneven aspects of the Hunger Games series—on book and film—a work that puts its characters in thrilling situations and often on the precipice of horrible choices that will define their humanity, but all too often stops and takes the easy way out, in the form of deus ex machinas and conspiracies that go all the way to the top.

Because here’s the thing about Paula Fox’s work: she never takes the easy way out. And in her work for children, she writes with evenness and truth, never lying to children about the horrors of the world. Rather, she gives them the chance to find some light on the other side. Read More »

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A Prize for Isol

March 27, 2013 | by

La Bella Griselda illustration

Argentinian children’s illustrator Isol has won the 2013 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, an international prize given by the Swedish government in memory of the Pippi Longstocking author. With a purse of five million Swedish kronor (almost $800,000), it is the world’s biggest children’s literature prize, and has been awarded in the past to Maurice Sendak, Philip Pullman, and Katherine Paterson. The stated mission is to expand interest in children’s books and causes and, somewhat more confusingly, to “safeguard democratic values.” However you interpret that, we can all agree that Isol’s work is terrific: whimsical, fun, and sinister in only the best ways.

 

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Happy Birthday, Lois Lowry

March 20, 2013 | by

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“Memory is the happiness of being alone.” —Lois Lowry, Anastasia Krupnik

 

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