What the Dormouse Said: Lessons for Grown-Ups from Children's Books

What the Dormouse Said: Lessons for Grown-Ups from Children's Books

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Overview


What the Dormouse Said reminds us that we should never grow so old, or change so much, that we cannot find room in our hearts for the wisdom of children's books.

--from the foreword by Judith Viorst

From What the Dormouse Said:

On Silence: "Perhaps after all it is just as well to speak only once a year and then speak to the purpose."

--Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Kate Douglas Wiggin

On Pleasure: "Believe me, my young friend, ther is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

--The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

On Acceptance: "The world is full of happiness, and plenty to go round, if you are only willing to take the kind that comes your way."

--Daddy-Long-Legs, Jean Webster

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781565122413
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 10/01/1999
Pages: 146
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 6.58(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author


Judith Viorst is the author of twenty-five books, including Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and the New York Times best-seller Necessary Losses. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband.

Amy Gash edits books for grown-ups and lives with her family in New Jersey.

Pierre Le-Tan has illustrated many books for children and adults. His work has appeared in leading magazines and newspapers, including the New Yorker, GQ, Glamour, the Atlantic Monthly, and Rolling Stone.

Read an Excerpt



Foreword


By Judith Viorst


While I was reading the pages of this book, I found myself leafing through family photograph albums. I paused to examine a picture of my youngest son, Alexander, who had been immortalized at his sartorial worst. He wore two unmatched socks and a pair of untied sneakers. His hair was alarmingly tousled; his face was smudged. His shorts were droopy and wrinkled, and from them dangled not just one, but two torn pockets. And his T-shirt boldly displayed the bright-red signature of a recent spaghetti dinner.

I looked at that picture and winced, and then I shuddered, and then I sighed and then—all of a sudden—I started to laugh. "Neatness," I observed to myself, quoting a line from this oh-so-helpful collection, "was not one of the things he aimed at in life." Once again I had discovered, in a children's book, exactly what I needed.

For I've always believed that, at their best, the language and the art of books for children are as good as it gets. At their best, the subjects treated in these books include almost all of our central human concerns. At their best, children's books offer insights we'll want to remember and ponder and savor and learn from and revel in. But you don't have to take my word for it; between the covers of this charming book are some of the countless treasures that writings for children offer to both kids and adults.

You will surely find words that speak to your condition. You may choose, for instance, to contemplate the solemnity of "Every passage has its price" or to let yourself be tickled by the deadpan humor of "It is helpful to know theproper way to behave, so one can decide whether or not to be proper." You may nod your head in agreement with the indisputable truth that "One doesn't contradict a hungry tiger," or with the quiet sagacity of "Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive." You may, when your husband is driving a tad too fast on the superhighway, observe between clenched teeth that "It often takes more courage to be a passenger than a driver." Or you may, like me, find words that will provide you with a cheering new perspective.

Ranging from the highly poetic to the matter of fact, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID tells us to choose freedom over safety, to get up when we're knocked down, to remember to take delight where we find it, to recognize what we can and cannot control, to treat people carefully, to ask the right questions, to listen more than we talk, and to understand that "Things are not untrue just because they never happened."

It tells us, too, that growing old has value because "to stay young always is also not to change." But at the same time it reminds us that we should never grow so old, or change so much, that we cannot find room in our hearts for the wisdom of children's books.

Table of Contents


Foreword by Judith Viorst

What I Learned from Children's Books

Faith and Courage

Defiance

Imagination and Adventure

Animals

Love and Friendship

Practical Musings

Character and Individuality

Family Woes

Acceptance

Eating Habits

Nature

Sadness

Goodness

More Practical Musings

Greed, Envy, Pride, and Sloth

Songs and Stories

Growing Wise

Silence

Hidden Truths

Reverence

Growing Old

Index by Books

Acknowledgments and Permissions

What People are Saying About This

Kate Douglas Wiggin

On Silence: "Perhaps after all it is just as well to speak only once a year and then speak to the purpose."

Kenneth Grahame

On Pleasure: "Believe me, my young friend, ther is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
The Wind in the Willows

Jean Webster

On Acceptance: "The world is full of happiness, and plenty to go round, if you are only willing to take the kind that comes your way."
Daddy-Long-Legs

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