The Archive of Childhood, Part 2: The Golliwog

The second in my “Archive of Childhood” series. Trigger warning: images of a racist doll appear below. I’ve included it because this post is about racism, and I didn’t feel I could talk about the racism without displaying the doll in question. NOTE. A revised and expanded inquiry into this subject forms the Introduction (“Race,

The Archive of Childhood, Part 1: Crayons

We tend to imagine the self as an unbroken whole, but it might better be described as plural, a series of selves that, though temporally contiguous (and often overlapping) are not always the “same” self.  That’s one of the conclusions suggested by Robert Krulwich in “Who Am I?,” a Radiolab podcast from 2007.  It is

Dallas 1963, New York 1980, Washington 1981

On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, I happen to be staying at the Washington Hilton – the hotel in front of which President Reagan was not assassinated 32 and a half years ago. Don DeLillo called the Kennedy assassination, “The seven seconds that broke the back of the American century.” But

A Manifesto for Children’s Literature; or, Reading Harold as a Teenager

Those of us who read, create, study, or teach children’s literature sometimes face skepticism from other alleged adults.  Why would adults take children’s books seriously?  Shouldn’t adults be reading adult books? There are many responses to these questions: Children’s books are the most important books we read because they’re potentially the most influential books we

Moomin Merchandise

Occasionally, publishers and authors send me children’s books. When time and interest coincide (alas, too infrequently), I review them and post my reviews here. More often, I write reviews of books I’ve bought. I do not review children’s-book-related tie-ins. I view such products with some skepticism, and have written critically about merchandising that targets children.

A Brief Inquiry Into the Paradoxes of Academic Achievement

When I started writing what was then a biography of Crockett Johnson (back in the late 1990s), I thought: When I finish this, I really will have achieved something. Even as I wrote other books, I continued to think of the biography – which became a double biography of Johnson and Krauss – as The Big Achievement.