Posted in May 2012

Heckedy Peg, 1987

Heckedy Peg, 1987

Heckedy Peg is a story about a witch who turns seven kids, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc, into food and brings them to her lair where she plans to eat them. Their brave mother tracks them down and must guess which kid is which food in order to save them. With Heckedy Peg, Audrey Wood wrote a proper fairy tale. It’s dark and frightening, but in the end, the magic and terror are all dismissed through ingenuity, a moral is conveyed, and we are left with the black and white triumph of maternal good over a barren evil. Proper. Continue reading

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James Joyce’s The Cat and The Devil

James Joyce’s The Cat and The Devil

The Cat and the Devil is an Irish tale explaining the existence of a French bridge across the Loire. The devil builds the bridge for the people of Beaugency under the condition that the first to soul walk across it will be his. And who walks across it first? A cat. Who doesn’t walk. He runs. Because the townspeople pour cold water over him. That’s one way to outwit the devil. Continue reading

Switch on the Night, 1955

Switch on the Night, 1955

Here’s another little book by a big-name author. Ray Bradbury’s Switch on the Night was published in 1955 and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. There is a little nameless boy who doesn’t like the night. He keeps it away by blazing lights around him at all times until a little moon-girl named Dark introduces him to the night. Continue reading

Maurice Sendak passes away

Maurice Sendak passed away this morning in a hospital in Connecticut where he had been since a stroke last Friday.  He was 83.  Read the NPR article  here. From interviews with Sendak, it might be said that he didn’t mind heading out of this world, happy to follow his dearly loved ones already gone.  And his death … Continue reading

The Crows of Pearblossom, 1944

The Crows of Pearblossom, 1944

If you like literature. If you respect the world of literature. If you respect and maybe even adore authors, those dark figures lurking in the shadows, those puppeteers in the world of words. If all of these ifs, and if you also happen to like picture books, could you think of a more compelling object … Continue reading

In the Night Kitchen, 1970

In the Night Kitchen, 1970

So, what’s great about Sendak’s next best known book? His second little dark haired hero, Mickey, falls into a surreal bakers’ world and saves the day by flying a dough plane to a giant milk bottle and getting the bakers the milk they need for the morning cake. Again, as in Where the Wild Things Are, imagination takes a boy to a world outside of his own. But this one’s got a slightly different kind of ending… Continue reading

Where the Wild Things Are, 1963

Where the Wild Things Are, 1963

When you read criticism on Maurice Sendak’s first hugely successful book (and there are academic essays, I assure you), you realize, holy shit, people have applied phrases like “colonialist or Freudian prism” and “the psychoanalytic story of anger” to this tail of an angry boy who sails to where the wild things are. This isn’t the first place that Where the Wild Things Are has been treated as a book whose readership has no age limits. Continue reading

Maurice Sendak, genius extraordinaire

Maurice Sendak, genius extraordinaire

Over the last five decades, Maurice Sendak has been the genius behind innumerable picture books, some of which have reached the status of irrefutable classics. Indeed, today Sendak is one of the most recognized names in illustrated children’s books. Born in Brooklyn in 1928 to Polish Jewish immigrants, he knew by the age of 12 that he wanted to be an illustrator. Continue reading