8 Classic Kids' Books Mashed Up With Contemporary Novels
As a toddler, I loved books so much I memorized them. To this day, I'm still obsessed with titles like Where The Sidewalk Ends, Stellaluna, and Harold and the Purple Crayon, and I have no problem admitting I revisit them all the time. You should, too.
One thing I keep wondering: How much has really changed between my terrible twos and my 20s — with regard to reading, at least? Really, what book-lover doesn’t read her favorite parts aloud to anyone who’ll listen? Who doesn’t scribble exclamation points and hearts in the margins — or at least underline perfect sentences?
With that in mind, I had a little fun thinking about how well my old picture book standbys from childhood would mashup with my latest obsessions — books by authors like Catherine Lacey, Maggie Shipstead, and Etgar Keret. Turns out blending 2s and 20s is pretty fun: for instance, Stellaluna flies to New Zealand and tries to hide among the Kiwis, and Harold wows the New York art scene with his purple crayon.
Come see what else I dreamed up:
Stellaluna + Nobody Is Ever Missing
I loved that sweet baby bat and worried she’d never make it out of the birds' nest and back home. Elyria in Nobody Is Ever Missing is sort of trying to pass for a bird — well, a Kiwi — and the adult version of Stellaluna gives us a darker form of longing.
Where The Sidewalk Ends + The Girl on The Fridge
Both books are outrageously funny and profound. Both feature kids like: “A girl who eats a whale,” “a boy who turns into a TV set,” “a girl parented by a major household appliance,” and “a birthday-party magician whose hat tricks end in horror.” I forget who’s who.
Angelina Ballerina + Astonish Me
As a child, Angelina never stopped dancing, and as an adult she still can’t quit ballet. Neither can her son. Wait, which book are we talking about?
The Runaway Bunny + Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Maria Semple references The Runaway Bunny throughout her novel, and it’s true — the mother-daughter pairs in both books love each other so much they travel to the end of the earth to reunite.
Harold and the Purple Crayon + The Blazing World
As an adult, Harold (“Harry”) continues working in the medium of purple crayon, eventually becoming a new masking for Harriet (“Harry”) Burden. So which Harry said it? "We live inside our categories and we believe in them, but they often get scrambled. The scrambling is what interests me. The mess."
Corduroy + The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
"Curious" probably makes you think of George, but lovable, focused Corduroy is the childhood protagonist who most matches Christopher. The kid-friendly mystery of a missing button gets darker and more complex in its grownup form.
The Giving Tree + The Days of Abandonment
After the tree stump gives up everything for the boy she loves, does he thank her? Does he apologize? Nope, he sits on her. The grown up Giving Tree is Elena Ferrante’s crass and compulsive Olga. Don’t pity her. She’s no chopped-down Poverella; she’s fighting back.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day + The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
Can't you see grumpy, pessimistic Alexander growing up and moving to Brooklyn, dating editorial assistants, and grumbling about how bad he has it, until he reminds himself he has a book deal, gets a girlfriend, and realizes things are pretty great after all? Me too.
Images: Nichole LeFebvre