The Best Children’s Book No One Has Read

Jason Micheli —  August 16, 2012 — Leave a comment

My heart cut its reading teeth on John Irving’s The World According to Garp. I love that book and reread it every year. It’s my love of it that allows me to forgive Irving for his lesser or indulgent books. It’s T.S. Garp, more so than Super Nanny, Atticus Finch or any man in my family that has most informed and inspired my parenting- hence my proclivity towards ‘booty’ shorts and watching my kids sleep as supreme evening entertainment.

Another of Irving’s wonderful novels is A Widow for One Year, a tragicomedy (like all of his books) about a children’s book author/illustrator whose two boys-spoiler alert- die tragically in a car accident. A loss from which the family never recovers (like all of his books).

In the book, the father routinely and extemporaneously tells his little girl, Ruthie, bedtime stories featuring thinly disguised versions of the dead brothers Ruth never knew. One of these was a bedtime story about a mouse crawling between the walls.

Irving later turned it into a children’s book. I love it because of my love of the novel from which it came. My boys, however, just love it. They can tell it themselves. It never fails to frighten and delight them. It’s a perfect story, hauntingly drawn. I know from reading to my kids’ classes that next to no one has read this book. Their- and your- loss.

 

Jason Micheli

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