Childrearing

Obscure Children’s Books You Should Check Out

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Brain Pickings is this fantastic newsletter, beautifully designed, with multi-media essays on literature. I love it. And this week they had something on “7 Obscure Children’s Books by Authors of Grown-Up Literature.” So this is not about folks such as Ian Fleming, author of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Essayist Maria Popova guides readers through James Joyce‘s “The Cat and the Devil,” illustrated by French cartoonist Roger Blachon. And Mark Twain‘s books already were popular with younger folks but he penned an actual children’s story titled “Advice to Little Girls.” Virginia Woolf has a contribution, although I gather it wasn’t one of her greatest works.

I don’t know how “obscure” “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” is, but I didn’t realize it was originally illustrated by the author T.S. Eliot himself. And Mary Shelley wrote a children’s story that was buried for nearly two centuries until scholars found it in 1997. It’s about a boy searching for a home. And there are Leo Tolstoy‘s alphabet books and classic fables. But I’m most curious about Oscar Wilde‘s “The Happy Prince and other Tales” — a collection of stories about happiness, life and death. And there’s a Chinese translation, too. I love it.

Commenters add their own additions — Carl Sandburg’s “Rootabaga Stories,” James Thurber’s “The 13 Clocks,” Mark Haddon (of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time”) and his baby books about dinosaurs, C.S. Forester’s “Poo Poo and the Dragons,” Eudora Welty‘s “The Shoe Bird,” John Ruskin’s “The King of the Golden River,”

The Twain book was released with new illustrations. Here’s a sample:

Any other adult literature authors whose children’s books are worthwhile?