Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Serious Business of Children's Books

There is a bit of a literary fight today about a new book of a children's story written by James Joyce
'Joyce children's story published in Dublin to dismay in Z├╝rich'
In a statement, the foundation said it “was left completely in the dark” about the Dublin publication and that “it never permitted, tolerated, condoned or connived in this publication, and it rigidly dissociates itself from it”.

It was “dismayed to learn that a copy of the letter to young Stephen Joyce of 1936 must have been used for its publication in book form. The foundation was never approached or informed, it was never asked for permission” and it had only just learned of the publication.

The book looks lovely. The issue reminds me of a bugbear I have where famous authors of adult literature's children's books are consigned to the trash heap of history.

For example I cannot find a new copy of
The Little Steamroller by Graham Greene

Virginia Woolf, The Widow and the Parrot

The Bed Book By Sylvia Plath


I love the Bed Book. The picture is of me reading it to my daughter. Yet many Plath fans do not even know of its existence.

Why is it that these books are not well known or in print? Could it be we do not like our serious authors to show their playful and family loving side? It could be there is no demand to pay for publishing these books. That Joyce's story needed to go out of copyright to get printed is evidence against this though.

A friend pointed out this great blog We Too Were Children 'a Compendium of Children’s Books by Twentieth Century “Adult” Authors Currently Out of Print'. Do you know of any more slightly hidden childrens books by 'serious' authors? Kafka's tale of the plucky mouse who rescues the circus or some such.

2 comments:

A.M. said...

Mario Puzo's The Runaway Summer of Davey Shaw. It's good too! I have a much battered used copy.

A.M. said...

Mario Puzo's The Runaway Summer of Davey Shaw. It's good too! I have a much battered used copy.