Wild Words About Wild Things!

… [T]he collaborators plow an ample field, and they do so with affection, insight, the occasional raised eyebrow, and great good humor. Theirs is a book that will delight and divert any lover of books for kids and will also inform newcomers to the field, planting seeds of salutary subversion in their minds and hearts. Wild Things!, I think I love you.” — Booklist (starred review)

“… As explored throughout the text, great works of children’s literature provide a way of coping with childhood issues by offering a world that is just as complicated and tough as the one adults live in. The authors’ knowledge shines through and with its extensive source notes and a thorough index, this title is not to be missed. A perfect choice for children’s literature courses.” — School Library Journal (starred review)

“The authors’ enthusiasm and engagement will keep the pages turning. [F]ascinating… The discussion of censorship is particularly thoughtful, both emphasizing intellectual freedom and considering the problematic nature of classic literature amid changing cultural sensibilities. … [A] whole lot of enjoyment and no small amount of edification.” — Kirkus Reviews

Bird, Danielson, and Sieruta’s knowledge is so vast, even the well-informed will be introduced to new books and the drama that surrounded the publication and reception. … Told conversationally, moving easily from book banning to social politics to plain old sour grapes, this collection dispels any notion that children’s literature is apolitical and humorless. Librarians, writers, teachWILDTHINGS_168_HI_USers, scholars, and enthusiastic readers alike will revel in the information that complicates the world of children’s literature.” — VOYA

Almost 50 pages of source notes, bibliography, acknowledgments, credits, and an index demonstrate the authors’ attention to detail. Along with thoughtful essays about the emergence of noncondescending children’s literature, quotes from current authors, and candid comments on celebrity writers, most readers will find at least one surprising tidbit. … This book will be particularly appealing to writers, illustrators, publishers, librarians, and others with a connection to the children’s book business.” — Library Journal

“Three children’s book specialists gleefully shred the ‘romanticized image’ of children’s authors, illustrators, and editors, slinging behind-the-scenes lore, recalling censorship controversies, and profiling innovators like Maurice Sendak, Ursula Nordstrom, Roald Dahl, and others who eschew cutesiness. … This chatty volume sheds light on children’s literature’s household names.” — Publishers Weekly

“A lively historical survey of scandals and secrets from the children’s-book biz… [T]he gossip is good (and scrupulously documented); sandwiched among theWILDTHINGS_Bunny1_HI_US juicy bits are thoughtful passages about censorship, celebrity books, and the perpetual struggle between the reading tastes of children and what their elders prefer for them.” — The Horn Book 

“Source notes and an extensive bibliography make the book ideal for university courses, but the audience for Wild Things! is much broader than just students. Anyone who loves children’s books will relish the historical facts, insightful interpretations and wild anecdotes in this highly recommended addition to the literature about children’s literature.” — BookPage

“Wild Things! was co-written by three highly opinionated experts with different styles and tastes, but the text of the book reads seamlessly, as though written by a single author. … [It] packs a lot of information and opinions into a fairly short space and is certain to become required reading in education courses and classes on the history of children’s books. Non-specialists, too, will enjoy the lively and engaging exploration of this important and ever-changing field.” — Chapter 16

“The audience … is certainly teachers, librarians, and anyone who … still feels passionately about children’s literature as an adult (and maybe still reads more than a little of it, too). Even this educated crowd will learn a lot from this well-researched volume. But WILD THINGS! also deserves to find an audience among more general readers, perhaps among parents who are just starting to explore the world of children’s literature with their kids. For one thing, [it] is a terrific resource for anyone looking for smart, off-kilter, honest books to share with children — and it also offers an insiders’ look at the fascinating stories behind them.” — Teenreads

“Memorize every word of this brilliant book, then quote it at cocktail parties and watch as knees buckle beneath your erudite greatness.”

Jack Gantos, author of Dead End in Norvelt, winner of the Newbery Medal

“I was afraid this book might be one of those eat-your-vegetables, musty history lessons. To my delight it skipped the vegetables entirely and went straight for delicious and dangerous desserts. I ate it up in one sitting.”

Lane Smith, illustrator of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other FairlyWILDTHINGS_Bunny10_HI_US Stupid Tales, a Caldecott Honor Book

“For anyone who thought children’s books and their creators were all sugar and spice, fasten your seat belt and get ready for an unexpected joyride through the genre! Wild Things! pulls back a rose-colored curtain to expose the real deal behind bunnies, banned books, and how ‘the next big thing’ is built.”

Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, creators of Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra, a Caldecott Honor Book

“Wow, what an interesting group we creators of children’s books are! Of course, we’ve known this all along, but because of Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta, the rest of the world can know, too. What a great book! I literally couldn’t put it down.”

Tomie dePaola, author-illustrator of Strega Nona, a Caldecott Honor Book, and 26 Fairmount Avenue, a Newbery Honor Book

“With tales of banned bunnies, drunken ducks, and gay penguins, Wild Things! leads the battle against the ignorance, half-truths, and just plain foolishness that afflict so much writing about children’s literature. Punchy, lively, and carefully researched, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in books for the young. So. Stop reading this blurb, and buy the book.”

Philip Nel, co-editor of Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature

“In its jolly mission to expose the dark underbelly of the children’s book world, Wild Things! turns up stories I’ve been hearing noised about for ages, but with a lot more detail and authenticity. The stories may not be quite as sordid as my own imagination had conjured up—although a few of them are—because there’s no denying that this field is full of mostly nice people!—but it’s all fun and a great read for anyone interested in both children’s books and the collection of people who make them.”

Paul O. Zelinsky, author-illustrator of Rapunzel, winner of the Caldecott MWILDTHINGS_Bunny3_HI_USedal

“I’m a sucker for stories about the makers and makings of great children’s books, and Wild Things! is full of tales that are vivid, rich, and the good kind of gossipy.”

Mac Barnett, author of Extra Yarn, a Caldecott Honor Book

“If you know anything about children’s books or nothing about children’s books, Wild Things! is for you. It is the real deal. Read it now. It will make you smarter. And you will never look at fuzzy bunnies the same way ever again.”

Jon Scieszka, former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, a Caldecott Honor Book

“A frisky safari through the wilderness of children’s literature. . . . The narration is deft, detailed, and wide-ranging.”

Laura Amy Schlitz, author of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, winner of the Newbery Medal

“Every book has three stories: the story the book tells; what happens when a reader picks up the book; and the story behind the book. These three children’s book experts and enthusiasts have woven together a fascinating pastiche of stories behind the books. From murder, betrayal, and sex to the fate of Robert McCloskey’s dockings, readers are treated to some of the best gossip in the children’s book industry. But as Peter, Betsy, and Julie entertain, they also tackle serious questions about censorship, the role of adult critics in children’s books, and the problems caused by celebrities creating children’s books. If you have never thought much about children’s books, Wild Things! will shock you. If you love children’s books, you will find a veritable feast of material here.”

Anita Silvey, author of Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac

“Open this secret door that children’s literature warns us against and you’re in for a walk on the wild side, not to mention a pie in the face — in fact, on almost every page, a pie in the face. This book is a mischievous, risky, highly amusing, disturbing, and informative romp. I say, suppress it.”

Jules Feiffer, illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster


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