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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.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

  • 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.

Categories

authors, books

Dana Murphy View All

Literacy Coach, Reader, Writer

109 thoughts on “Wild Things! Review and a Giveaway Leave a comment

  1. It’s always fun to get the “behind the scenes” scoop and it sounds like this book is full of those interesting tidbits for all lovers of children’s literature!

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  2. It sounds like this book is a great way to keep us teachers learning about books and looking more closely at texts. Thanks for sharing the information!

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  3. Woah! Shel Silverstein wrote for Playboy??!! It’s always good to put beloved authors into perspective as we learn about their lives. Since you say this isn’t a book for kids, I’m curious how you think we can share this with our students? Are you referring to older kids – middle school and up? Or, do you mean that there are interesting bits of information that we could pass on to students about authors they love? Just curious.

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    • Life is full of simple treasures/pleasures! Finding hidden meaning and messages in children’s literature is so interesting. Fairy tales and folk tales are full of juicy tidbits! Illustrations are also fun to analyze. I’m always amazed how much can be gleened from a kids book, even when it’s not the author’s intent!!!

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  4. I love the idea of office work! We just finished reading Bud, Not Buddy, and I have a student that composed a list of questions that she would like to know about how Christopher Paul Curtis writes his books. This is a generally disengaged student that has found a spark of interest-so exciting! The power of mentor texts is evident when used effectively. I would love to have the information from Wild Things to share with my students.

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  5. When I took a children’s literature class in undergraduate school, the professor said that the book, Love You Forever has sexual connotations in it. I wonder if if that’s written in this book and if my professor from undergraduate school is one of the authors. I never could think of that book in the same way after that. Still, this books sounds interesting!

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  6. Oooh, so it’s not just about mischievous characters, but about scandal and alleged hidden social agendas…? Sounds good! If I don’t win it, I’m buying it! Great review, Dana. 🙂

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  7. This is too funny! I just had a discussion with my students about banned books and characters as we began a compare/contrast session on Bart Simpson and Mark Twain the original bad boy. They were in shock and awe that when I was a kid the Simpsons t-shirts were “banned” and deemed inappropriate for school. I will officially add this to my book hunter list.

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  8. Wow , this review instantly allowed me to travel back in time and think about some of those stories I read as a teen! This brief glimpse into the authors’ background is intriguing and left me wanting more! Sound like a definite addition to my bookshelf!!

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  9. What a fun post, Dana. I’ve been hearing about this book- your review has convinced me I need to get myself a copy. Sounds like a lot of fascinating behind-the-scenes look at children’s literature.

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  10. As a secondary teacher, I nearly skipped reading this post for I believed it directed at Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and thus would not apply as readily to my classroom needs. I’m glad I tampered my instincts to click on the link. The cover captured my interest immediately and the content sounds like a fun-filled-behind-the-scenes trivia of book many books I know and love. What reader could pass that up?

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  11. Having read just a few revealing facts about my favorite authors, made me realize that its important to be a well rounded individual when diving into the world of childrens books.

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  12. The book sounds wonderful and should give an interesting insight into how authors and illustrators are perceived by different people. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

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  13. This looks amazingly interesting! Not sure if I should wait to read it myself, or buy several copies for friends so that we can read, share & argue together as we go

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  14. I love books for children that have a little naughtiness in them. Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors. We read parts of Boy for his birthday last week, and I am reading Matilda to my class right now. I can’t wait to ask my students if they think I am more like Miss Honey or The Trunchbul. They had better be careful how they answer or I might have to send them to the chokie. I would love to read the book you have shared.

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  15. I love adding a little naughtiness in stories. Roald Dahl is one of my favorites. I’m reading Matilda to my 5th graders right now and can’t wait to ask them if they think I’m more like Miss Honey or the Trunchbull. Of course they need to be careful how they answer, I might send them to the chokie. I would love to have a copy of this book.

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  16. One of the most interesting classes I took in graduate school was Fantasy in Children’s Literature. I would love to have this book on my shelf!

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  17. I LOVE the idea of this book. I just started a mini-unit on Banned Books with my adolescent students. The event arrived just in time to reignite their excitement about reading. Many of them have long stories of reading struggles, but they are jumping eagerly into old favorites to reread with a new lens, and even pushing themselves to try some newer, more complex texts to see why someone wanted to stop them from reading. While not appropriate in its entirety for them, some juicy tidbits from this book could keep this spirit alive in my classroom throughout the year!

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  18. When I was in third grade, I had a teacher from Germany. I purchased a book of poetry called Struwwelpeter written by a German author. The poems were all about naughty children. I loved it! Slovenly Peter, I believe was one of the poem’s characters. I still have the book, too, after all these years because of my fascination with an author being able to publish poems about how bad things happen to naughty children (Some very shocking!) I would love to be able to share some of this author trivia with my 5th graders.

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  19. 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.

    Like

  20. It was the book “Should We Burn Babar” written by Kohl many years ago that changed how I look at children’s lit. I can hardly wait to read “Wild Things!” for more insights into the whys and hows of adults writing for children. Glad to hear of its layout with various sections. Thanks for the review!

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    • The book sounds intriguing. I am confused by the directions though? 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 22nd.

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