Children’s literature is an integral part of modern publishing, and as it grows so does the many ideas for more interesting plot lines.
Many of our classic authors, most known rather for their adult literature, have had a hand in creating some really interesting children’s books. Many of these authors offer up a fairly unique definition to one’s idea of the children’s book, and some are authors you might not expect:
1. The Crows of Pearblossom by Aldous Huxley
Author of the iconic 1932 novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, wrote a children’s book which was released through Random House after his death. Dealing in a style fairly similar to Huxley’s usual story style, the book deals with a crow family who’s eggs keep getting eaten by the snake that lives in their tree. The crows eventually hatch a plan to kill the snake for good. With the help of an owl, they paint a rock in the style of an egg, which the snake eventually eats and dies from. The story ends with the crows rejoicing and using the snake’s carcass as a clothesline for their chicks’ diapers.
2. The Cat and the Devil by James Joyce
A children’s book written by another classic, mostly adult fiction, author, The Cat and the Devil is a children’s book written by the famous James Joyce. Famous for his adult book, Ulysses, this book also includes some great Irish Wit, mixed with French folklore. In the story, a lord makes a deal with the Devil in order to get a much-needed bridge built over the water. His deal consists of him providing the Devil with one soul upon the completion of the bridge. When the day comes, the Devil’s promised soul comes over the bridge-a tiny little cat. At first angry, the Devil quickly enjoys his new companion. This is a great children’s book with an obscure twist.
3. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
This is a great children’s book written by the famous Salman Rushdie, author of the controversial The Satanic Versus. The magical story of a little boy who travels to a magical land in order to find the music that his father has lost. It’s unique twist exists in its allusion to the social justice problems of the current time, particularly in India. Written for one of his sons, the book is a great children’s book that takes a unique twist to the classic children’s story. Rushdie went on to publish a great second children’s book called Luka and the Fire of Life.
4. The Widow and the Parrot by Virgina Woolf
Known to be classically different in moral undertone than many of this author’s famous works, Woolf’s children’s book includes many Victorian values from its time. The story is about a widow who, after the house that she inherited from her husband’s brother burns down, adopts a parrot. The parrot turns out to be an extremely useful pet when it eventually leads the widow to a hidden treasure, allowing her to once more have money to live. This happy, and simple story though a stark contrast to Woolf’s usual tone, is a great classic read.
5. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car series by Ian Fleming
This next one is known for its famous movie, but its author was known rather for his adult writing. Ian Fleming, famous for his James Bond series, wrote this story of a magical car from the inspiration of a race car driver who in the early 1920s named his engine Chitty Chitty Bang. With this in mind, the story’s unique magical flying car idea bears a similar connection to its speedy driver 007.
6. The Book of Mean People by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison has published many children’s books, however this book is still unique in its style. Illustrated by her son Slade Morrison, who has illustrated almost all of her children’s books, this story really analyzes how children perceive meanness in the modern world. It helps children see anger and meanness in a way that is understandable to them. The book’s focus on an adult idea in a child’s world is what makes it unique. Though this book is more modern that the others mentioned so far, it deals with a classic author introducing a classic idea that has always existed in our society.
7. A Child’s Calendar by John Updike
This book deal’s with a topic that is more unique within children’s literature today. A collection of short poems, A Child’s Calendar paints each month in the way that a child views the seasons. Though cleverly simplified, this book was Updike’s first children’s book created from completely original material. Its a great, quick read for times where there is less time for the child to read, and each poem is unique and can be read individually.
8. To Do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays by Gertrude Stein
The factor that makes this book really unique is that it is an alphabet book written in verse, with each letter connected to a name and a short story. Originally written in 1940, the book was at first considered too complex for children and was not published until seventy years later in 2011. The book’s further uniqueness comes from the illustrations of Giselle Potter, which give it a really interesting and recognizable style.
9. Mr. Bliss by J.R.R. Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien even had a part in children’s books. Inspired by his own first vehicle, Tolkien wrote this book about a man and his car. The story originally written for his child, was not published until 1982. The character names in the book, Gaffer Gamgee and Boffin, were later used in Tolkien’s famous The Lord of the Rings.
10. The Shoe Bird by Eudora Welty
A final children’s book that needs attention is The Shoe Bird by Eudora Welty. This story consists of a parrot who works in a shoe store. The parrot routinely blocks customers from buying shoes, shouting “shoes are for the birds!” whenever they go near them. The parrot continues to cause chaos within the store. From an author known for books about the South which contained some serious moral tones, this book is filled with a much more straightforward humor.