I really like good children’s books. The good ones read as well for adults as they do for the kids, speaking in simplified terms about universal themes, Sometimes it’s just refreshing to see a simple truth not hidden beneath a mountain of adult garbage.
Most of us know Maurice Sendak for his classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are and many others but he was also a very prolific illustrator for other author’s books. Early in is career, he had an eight year collaboration with Ruth Krauss (1901-1993) who is considered a giant in the children’s book genre although many of us probably are not aware of her work. Her editor, Ursula Nordstrom, described the appeal of her books in the 1950’s in a way that sort of describes why I believe I like kid’s books so much:
Krauss books can be bridges between the poor dull insensitive adult and the fresh, imaginative, brand-new child. But of course that only will work if the dull adult isn’t too dull to admit he doesn’t know the answer to everything. Krauss books will not charm those sinful adults who sift their reactions to children’s books through their own messy adult maladjustments. That is a sin and I meet it all the time. But there are some adults who don’t sift their reactions to children’s books through their own messy adult maladjustments and I guess those are the ones who will love and buy Krauss.
Maybe they are bridges between the dullness of our adult minds and the openness and flexibility of our child’s mind.
I came across one of their books, Open House for Butterflies from 1960, and found many of the images charming and timeless. Beautiful bridges.