My son was only two when I first read him a library copy of Where the Wild Things Are. To say that he didn’t like it would be an understatement: he absolutely hated it and refused to sit through it again. Not surprisingly, given that we didn’t have the best experience with this book, I haven’t had reason to properly review it.
Alligators All Around is one of the quartet of tiny books in Maurice Sendak’s charming Nutshell Library, and probably my favourite of the four — although, that’s not to say that the other three are not equally wonderful.
There are some books that are purportedly written for children — and may in fact look and sound the part, in terms of the ‘kid-friendly’ cover or simple language used — but in fact, they hold little or no appeal for them. It’s simple: we all seek to form connections with the books we read, and children are no exception; so if they can’t relate to a book’s content or are bored by it, they may sit through it once — if you’re lucky — but don’t expect them to ever want to read it again. If they’re written well enough, or cleverly enough, however, such books may find a more appreciative adult audience.
First published in 1952, A Hole Is to Dig is — not surprisingly, since it’s still in print after more than 60 years! — not one of those books described above. In fact, this little gem of a book — which measures just 18cm by 14cm — is the very definition (pun intended) of a true children’s book that speaks to — and for — them, written and illustrated by two people who really understand the mind of a child.