Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The Book: Clifton Fadiman, editor. THE WORLD TREASURY OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, Book III. Little, Brown, 1985 (Book of the Month Club edition). Fine book in very good dust jacket; spine is badly sun-faded.
First read: 1990
Owned since: 1990

The third volume of this collection is aimed at slightly older readers, and includes several pieces originally written for adults. I've written before about my misgivings about the growing market of books written for and marketed to "young adults." This book makes my point, which is that older children are and should be able to appreciate things written for adults.

This book includes a lot of my favorites: excerpts from The Wizard of Oz and Charlotte's Web, the "Doughnuts" story from Robert McCloskey's Homer Price, the Mad Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland. (In his notes, Fadiman mentioned that China banned Alice in Wonderland in 1931 because "animals should not use human language." Oink!)

"Treasury" is the right word for this book. Every page I turn gives me another treasure from my childhood. The Borrowers! Chapter Three of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (and why don't I own a copy of that book?)! Our introduction to Chester from The Cricket in Times Square! The Christmas chapter from Little Women! "Rikki Tikki Tavi""!

But I mentioned adult content, and here some is: Chapter Five of The Hobbit, where Bilbo meets Gollum; ee cummings' magical "in Just--"; Isaac Asimov's great "The Feeling of Power." Haikus by Basho, a chapter from Joy Adamson's Born Free. Great stuff, all of it.

Five Random Songs

"Hard But It's Fair," Buddy Guy. In honor of Governor Eliot Spitzer, the shuffle gives us a song about the challenges of staying faithful.

"Real Men," Joe Jackson. Wow -- another particularly appropriate song for the times. "What's a man now - what's a man mean? Is he rough or is he rugged, is he cultural and clean..."

"Some Kind of Wonderful," Carole King. From the mix my friends Brian and Scott put together for their connubials -- a beautiful love song, a perfect song for a wedding.

"Hey You," The Connells. I can't pretend the words to this song make any sense to me. It's a bouncy tune, though, off 1993's Ring.

"Trouble Me," 10,000 Maniacs. From the MTV Unplugged collection, a live acoustic version. Humans like to be asked to help the people we care about. It's important to remember.

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