A Child's Delight

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 ...
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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A wonderful resource for librarians, teachers, and parents as well as for children of all ages." —Library Journal
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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584653523
  • Publisher: Dartmouth College Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 178
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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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Table of Contents

A Good Book to Read to a Two Year Old - Leslie Brook Johnny Crow's Garden
Wanda's Wonder-Book - Wanda Gag - Millions of Cats
The Third Grade Goes to Space - Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System
Living Dolls - Rumer Godden The Doll's House
Boy Wants Dog - Mary Stolz A Dog on Barkham Street
Nathaniel's Wonder-Book - Nathaniel Hawthorne A Wonder-Book for Boys and Girls and Tanglewood Tales
Living Dolls II - Mary Norton The Borrowers
A Black Planet - Virginia Hamilton The Planet of Junior Brown
The Freedom of the Woods - Ernest Thompson Seton Two Little Savages
Living Dolls III - T.H. White Mistress Masham's Repose
Three Fine Mice - Margery Sharp The Rescuers
Two Magical Books
The Jailbird's Daughter
Way Out West in Egypt Land
Dear Diary? Delightful Diary!
A Ten Year Old in Hollywood
The Kids Fight Back
A Tale of Two Brothers
Many Tales of Three Brothers
It is Permitted to Try Again
An Adventure a Day
The Empty Castle
Prince of Deira
A Strange Voyage
An Animal Epic
Last Woman Meets Last Man
A Dog From Heaven
The Peaceable Kingdom
If They Will Sign the Treaty, He May Kiss Me
A Book That Works Like a Charm
Honorable Mention
Epilogue
Bibliography
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