Posts Tagged ‘Children’s literature’
March 11, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
The other day I visited with a four-year-old friend; we read a book called Manners. As the title implies, this is a guide to basic children’s etiquette, with an emphasis on consideration for others, and it was cute and instructive. But I couldn’t help thinking that it didn’t have quite the élan of The Goops.
Created by the humorist Gelett Burgess (also inventor of “the blurb”) in the late nineteenth century, the Goops were humanoid characters with enormous round heads who behaved disgracefully—children could profit from their example and get an illicit thrill from their antics. “The Goops” comic strip was a recurring feature in the children’s magazine St. Nicholas. The book, Goops and How to Be Them: A Manual of Manners for Polite Infants Inculcating Many Juvenile Virtues Both by Precept and Example, with Ninety Drawings, came out in 1900 to instant acclaim. I can still remember the opening lines:
The Goops, they lick their fingers,
and the Goops, they lick their knives;
They spill their broth on the tablecloth,
Oh, they lead disgusting lives!
March 7, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Because completion is for rubes—twelve books that end in the middle of a
- A new app promises to help you speed-read. The technology is compelling, even if its name, Spritz, reminds one of cheap perfume and poolside wine cocktails.
- Remembering, or simply remembering to notice, the arches of New York: “These structures were also marvels of artistic engineering, combining intricate brickwork with functional arrays of vaults and pillars, all leading to a kind of Mediterranean dreamworld of colonnades.”
- “Britain’s best loved writers and storytellers have transformed themselves into the characters they most loved as children.” There’s Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and, perhaps best of all, there’s Malorie Blackman as the Wicked Witch of the West.
- “Everything about the Vikings was designed to stress their individuality … They were a bit like today’s punks or Hell’s Angels.”
January 14, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
It’s Nice That, the art and design site, directed our attention to this assortment of vintage Ladybird Books, a British children’s imprint known in its heyday for pocket-size hardbacks on an exhaustive array of topics. Your average Ladybird is accessible, vividly and impeccably illustrated, and almost heartbreakingly earnest. See, for example, 1951’s The Discontented Pony, which traffics in a kind of postwar ennui and Weltzschmerz unknown to the youth of today.
This pony story tells of a very discontented pony named Merrylegs. Even though having everything a little pony needs—a field to run about in, a kindly farmer owner, and farmyard friends Daisy and Squeaker—Merrylegs still begins to feel discontented with his lot in life.
We know the feeling, Merrylegs. We know the feeling.
Ladybirds, also the subject of a recent BBC documentary, tend to bring out the collector’s impulse—they’re legion, they’re handsomely made, and they speak to the tastes of a bygone era, so of course you’ll want to own them all. It’s worth perusing the whole Ladybird corpus, actually. Some gems, in no particular order:
- Man and His Car
- Strawberries and Cream – The Adventures of Wonk
- Learning About Heraldry
- People at Work – In a Big Store
- What to Look for Inside a Church
- The Public Services – Gas
- The Story of Clowns
- The Garden Gang – Sheila Shallot and Benny Broad Bean
- In the Train with Uncle Mac