Wild Things!

Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature, by Bird, Danielson, and Sieruta

Three people in the children's book world team up to talk about the wilder side of children's literature.  Between them, they've got almost every angle covered: authorship, reviewing, blogging, librarianing, interviewing and critiquing, and they're here to discuss all of it.

There are chapters about:
  • subversive elements in children's books
  • old scandals and mysteries 
  • why grownups love Newberys and kids love pulp (and, often, Newberys and everything else)
  • censorship, banning, general outrage
  • how and when gay characters arrived in books for youth, and just how many of the children's authors and artists you love were gay, only nobody mentioned it at the time
  • children's books by celebrities: plague? not so bad? popularity contest?
  • what Harry Potter did for children's publishing
  • and the terrible scourge that is the Triumvirate of Mediocrity.
 ("The Triumvirate of Mediocrity" sounds exactly like a chapter in The Phantom Tollbooth.)

It's a fun read, with many interesting revelations, juicy anecdotes, and serious issues to think about.  I must admit that I already knew a lot of the material, because this is the sort of thing I know about anyway, but there was enough good commentary and new information that I enjoyed it all.  I was startled and pleased to see Leila from bookshelves of doom quoted!  Go Leila!

If you're interested in children's literature, it's a must-read.  If you're only sort of interested, take a look and see if you get hooked.


  1. I didn't realize this book covered so many areas -- I had assumed it was more literary criticism (not that there's anything wrong with that). It does sound worth a look. Thanks!

  2. This sounds like a really great read! I particularly like the idea of examining the reviewing of and blogging about books. It's an interesting approach to take, especially considering how much younger generations use the internet, particularly social media.


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