Wild Things! Review and a Giveaway

Wild ThingsFirst, an important disclaimer:  This book belongs on the teacher’s shelf.  This is not a book for children.
As soon as I heard about Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter D. Sieruta, I knew I had to order a copy.  This book offers a glimpse into the sweet and innocent world of children’s literature… a world which turns out to be not so sweet and innocent after all.  Did you know that Shel Silverstein used to write for Playboy magazine??  It’s true.  Or that the NAACP once accused Roald Dahl of using his Oompa-Loompas to portray African slaves?  Or that Robert Munsch really wanted his paper bag princess to punch jerky Ronald in the nose at the end of his book?
Wild Things! was written by three experts in the field of children’s literature.  Their shared experience, knowledge, passion, and humor is evident on every page. The authors take you on a behind-the-scenes guided tour of children’s books.  You will encounter some much loved favorites like Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendek, and you will meet some books you will be anxious to get your hands on.  I, for one, can’t wait to read Slovenly Peter.
Wild Things! is divided into sections, each one as interesting as the next.  The books begins with a section on subversive books – those books that took the traditional world of children’s literature and turned it on its head.  You will definitely find some unexpected tidbits and lists along the way, such as my favorite list: Recent Books in Which the Protagonist Gets Eaten (pgs 40-41.)  Another section discusses banned and challenged books, where you might be surprised to find some of your favorite titles.  The authors do more than simply list book titles, but rather they welcome you into a discussion about the very idea of banning books.  After all, who could possibly object to a forest wedding between two adorable bunnies?  You would be surprised.  There is another section titled “Some Hidden Delights of Children’s Literature” which will have you looking more closely at the illustrations in the next children’s book you pick up.  I especially enjoyed the section on celebrity children’s book authors, and I found myself nodding in agreement with the authors.  They do a fine job discussing recent works written by Madonna, Whoopi Goldberg, and Tori Spelling.   Finally, the authors discuss the book selling business during both pre and post Harry Potter years.  It turns out Harry Potter had a huge effect on the entire field of children’s literature.
I enjoyed this book as a fan and a reader of children’s literature, but it is also a valuable resource to teachers of literacy.  It contains an arsenal of information for a unit on Office Work.  If you use picture books or adolescent literature in any way in your classroom, you will find a treasure trove of information here to share with kids.


  • This giveaway is for a copy of Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature.  Many thanks to Candlewick Press for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of Wild Things!, please leave a comment about this post by Saturday, September 27th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Monday, September 29th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Candlewick Press will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)

Phyllis Sutton’s comment was chosen by the random number generator.  She will receive a copy of Wild Things!, donated by Candlewick Press.  Thank you to everyone who commented!

Phyliss’s comment was:

I am constantly reminded what hidden gems are found in children’s literature. Even though they appear to be simple, sweet stories, there are, quite often, deep meaningful messages hidden within. I love discovering those messages with my 5 th graders.