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A Child's Delight
     

A Child's Delight

by Noel Perrin (Other)
 

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Any parent dismayed by the rows of Goosebumps books dominating the children's sections of most bookstores, any grandparent concerned about the Nintendo induced glaze over a grandchild's eyes, and any loving adult wishing a child to know good books will celebrate Noel Perrin's latest collection of essays. His earlier guide to neglected adult literature, A Reader's

Overview

Any parent dismayed by the rows of Goosebumps books dominating the children's sections of most bookstores, any grandparent concerned about the Nintendo induced glaze over a grandchild's eyes, and any loving adult wishing a child to know good books will celebrate Noel Perrin's latest collection of essays. His earlier guide to neglected adult literature, A Reader's Delight, achieved the status of a classic, and now he has written a companion volume dedicated to children's fiction. Perrin's wit and engaging prose are, as always, in constant evidence, but it is his intuitive grasp of what makes a story work for children that renders this new book an essential resource for any home where books are valued.

Limiting his scope to those works already overlooked or in danger of slipping from view, Perrin leads us through a wide spectrum of fiction, ranging from stories for the very youngest listeners to nuanced novels for the adolescent reader. There is something here for every child: dolls and their houses; animals of varied talents and personalities; travels through time and space; romances promised, sometimes failed, sometimes realized; castles and battling warriors; magic of familiar as well as alien worlds; historical bits woven into textured stories. Richard Adams, Leslie Brooke, Arthur Conan Doyle, Wanda Gág, Rumer Godden, Anne Lindbergh, Hugh Lofting, Jean Merrill, Ernest Thompson Seton, Margery Sharp, Dodie Smith, and others know what it feels like to be a kid in an adult world. As does Noel Perrin -- and so will the readers of A Child's Delight.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A series of short and delightfully readable essays in which [Perrin] discusses minor classics of children's literature that have been neglected or ignored of late . . . Each essay provides plot summary and insightful commentary, and a bibliography offers information on locating the books. A wonderful resource for librarians, teachers, and parents as well as for children of all ages; recommended for all libraries.” —Library Journal

“Persuasive and engaging recommendations from a conversational and witty Dartmouth professor. He is an enthusiast and means to make it hard for readers to be content with just his word for it -- even if they don't have children of the appropriate ages . . . Even masters of children's literature will be grateful for Perrin's attempted resurrections of among others George Dasent's East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon, Laurence Housman's fairy tales and E. Nesbit's The Railway Children.” —Publishers Weekly

“In this enchanting sequel to A Reader's Delight . . . Perrin turns his attention to the world of children's literature . . . Although librarians and booksellers may be familiar with many of the authors and titles, they will welcome the opportunity to provide this eclectic list to parents eager to acquaint their children with a diverse range of literary gems.”—Booklist

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1988, Perrin brought to light 40 overlooked "classics" in A Reader's Delight. He continues in that vein with 30 short essays, "each about a wonderful but little-known book for children." About half the pieces appeared in the Washington Post; these are not reviews but persuasive and engaging recommendations from a conversational and witty Dartmouth professor. He is an enthusiast and means to make it hard for readers to be content with just his word for iteven if they don't have children of the appropriate ages. For instance, having described and summarized Robert Burch's Queenie Peavey (1966), Perrin says, "The book endswell, I guess I'm not going to say how it ends, since my aim is to tempt people to read it." Though not a children's author himself (his four volumes of personal essays about rural life, however, are first-rate), he has children, stepchildren and godchildren, and he uses their experiences to bolster his confident observations and impressions. "One of my two godsons, a boy devoted to facts, read The Rescuers, simply because it was around the house. At first he felt outraged by the liberties Margery Sharp takes, then amused, and finally having read all her books, he became almost proprietary." Perrin has a taste for fantasy books that not all will share ("There are tons of books about imaginary worlds. I love most of them") but even masters of children's literature will be grateful for Perrin's attempted resurrections of among others George Dasent's East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon, Laurence (brother of A.E.) Housman's fairy tales and E. Nesbit's The Railway Children. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Perrin (A Reader's Delight, Univ. Pr. of New England, 1988) has written a series of short and delightfully readable essays in which he discusses minor classics of children's literature that have been neglected or ignored of late. The essays touch on both picture and chapter books and on a variety of types from Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen's The Magic School Bus to Ursula Le Guin's fantasy A Wizard of Earthsea. Publication years range from Hawthorne's A Wonderbook for Boys and Girls (1851) to Anne M. Lindbergh's Nick of Time (1994). Each essay provides plot summary and insightful commentary, and a bibliography offers information on locating the books. A wonderful resource for librarians, teachers, and parents as well as for children of all ages; recommended for all libraries.Katherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Greensburg, Pa.
Kirkus Reviews
Perrin (First Person Rural, 1990, etc.) follows up his popular collection A Reader's Delight with a similar garland of essays on underappreciated children's books.

Perrin is one of those rare grown-up literati who appreciate the joys and splendors that are peculiar to books for children, and this volume collects his appreciations of 30 such works. Most of those under discussion were written and published in the 20th century, which Perrin believes has been the golden age of children's literature. He has chosen works that he calls "wonderful but little-known," although it is hard to imagine that The Story of Doctor Doolittle, The Borrowers, The Rescuers, The Railway Children, and Watership Down (to name but three of his choices) qualify as "little-known." On the other hand, P.L. Travers's I Go By Land, I Go By Sea, Virginia Hamilton's The Planet of Junior Brown, and Robert C. O'Brien's Z for Zachariah, among others, sound like real finds. Perrin's great strength here, as in the previous book, is his ability to communicate enthusiasm in an intelligent, thoughtful way. He playfully and intently assumes a child's consciousness (he has two children and four stepchildren, so he undoubtedly has had ample practice), allowing readers to see what a child might value in the books he extols. He is also skilled in highlighting the themes that draw most of the works together, particularly a focus on the battle of the small and powerless against the big and strong, an understandable concern for children. Occasionally, he gets carried away with his own whimsy, and taken in large doses, the book is a bit twee, certainly not a problem afflicting A Reader's Delight.

Despite the periodic lapse into cuteness, this is quite a delight itself and should send parents and kids alike scurrying to library shelves in search of Perrin's picks.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781584653523
Publisher:
Dartmouth College Press
Publication date:
08/01/2003
Pages:
178
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)

What People are Saying About This

Samuel F. Pickering
“When I was a child, I thought as an adult. Now that I am an adult, I treasure moments when I think as a child. Noel Perrin's new book will delight adults. Here are books to read to children and grandchildren. Here are books to slip between the pages of the New Yorker, books which will bring smiles and tears and wonderful hours of fresh, green enjoyment.”
Tomie dePaola
“Reading Noel Perrin's A Child's Delight made me want rush out and re-read all the great 'friends' of my childhood and to read the ones I missed. What a treasure for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and teachers -- a real road map for reading aloud and getting these masterpieces into the hands of young people. For myself, I'm immediately getting a NEW copy of Wanda Gág's Millions of Cats. Hail Mr. Perrin!”

Meet the Author

Noel Perrin has published numerous articles and a dozen books on a variety of topics, including Solo: Life with an Electric Car (1994), and First Person Rural (1990) and its three sequels, A Noel Perrin Sampler (UPNE, 1991), and Amateur Sugar Maker (UPNE, 1972). He is presently Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College.

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