"Once upon a time there was an elephant who did nothing all day." - E. E. Cummings
January 13, 2012 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Did you know James Joyce wrote a children's book (sort of)? Patricia Highsmith wrote one too. So did James Baldwin (not to be confused with James Baldwin the children's book author). Eugène Ionesco wrote four stories for young kids. Graham Greene also wrote at the very least four children's books (and possibly more). Other unlikely children's book authors are Aldous Huxley, E. E. Cummings, Chinua Achebe (2, 3, 4), Eleanor Roosevelt and Gertrude Stein. Author Ariel S. Winter has written about all these books on his excellent blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie. On his Flickr page you can look at scans from these books, sometimes even the whole book.
posted by Kattullus (29 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
And another obvious one: TS Eliot and his "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" - although one could argue that Andrew Lloyd Webber has done his best to ensure nobody thinks of Eliot in that context..
posted by kariebookish at 12:58 PM on January 13, 2012

Don't forget T.S. Eliot!

on preview, drat.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:00 PM on January 13, 2012

How about Dylan Thomas, then?
posted by leotrotsky at 1:01 PM on January 13, 2012

As my partner just pointed out, Ian Fleming wrote "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".
posted by kariebookish at 1:02 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just finished Tom Robbins' kids book, B is for Beer.
A kids book about beer (what it does, how it's made, why adults love it so much) written ostensibly for kids. I'm gonna wait until mine is at least six before we read it together.
I think I may hot the library('s website) this weekend to see what can be found.
posted by Seamus at 1:09 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Umberto Eco
Philip K. Dick
posted by nixt at 1:17 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

bell hooks wrote Happy To Be Nappy. Illustrated by Chris Raschka, one of my favorites.
posted by Jeanne at 1:21 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's also interesting to note that some authors, like Roald Dahl and Daniel "Lemony Snicket" Handler, never intended to write for kids, but are now arguably more well-known for their children's books than their works for adults.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 1:27 PM on January 13, 2012

Has he done Margaret Atwood or Joyce Carol Oates? *RsTFA* Oh, the focus is out-of-print books. In that case, I'm surprised to see Toni Morrison on the list. And I'm just generally surprised to see Andy Warhol.
posted by EvaDestruction at 1:31 PM on January 13, 2012

Not out of print, but Ian Fleming, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
posted by Cocodrillo at 1:39 PM on January 13, 2012

Duh, sorry, missed kariebookish...
posted by Cocodrillo at 1:40 PM on January 13, 2012

I'm currently rereading two books from my childhood ("The Midnight Folk" and "The Box of Delights" -- both now available in very nice hardcover editions courtesy of the New York Review of Books) that were written by UK poet laureate John Masefield, who, despite having written more than a dozen novels, a handful of plays and non-fiction works, and twenty-odd volumes of poetry in his more than sixty year career, is remembered primarily for those two books today. (People know his poem "Sea Fever", too, or at least one line of it: "all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.")

The two children's books are really fun reads, and I'm surprised someone hasn't made a jawdroppingly-bad blockbuster movie version of them yet in these post-Potter days (there is, of course, the very good version of The Box of Delights made by the BBC in the Eighties, starring Doctor Who's Patrick Troughton).
posted by orthicon halo at 1:49 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Any serious writer who experiments with various genres eventually writes a children's story, except for Anthony Burgess.
posted by ovvl at 1:54 PM on January 13, 2012

Ted Hughes wrote The Iron Giant. Which was pretty heavy, but still a book for kids.
posted by zomg at 2:29 PM on January 13, 2012

No love for E.B. White?
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:30 PM on January 13, 2012

Or Thurber?
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:31 PM on January 13, 2012

Also, Sylvia Plath.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:03 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

He's got Eleanor Roosevelt but not Barack Obama.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:55 PM on January 13, 2012

Sun Moon Star, the Christmas story as told by Kurt Vonnegut. illustrated by Ivan Chermayeff. He reads it (and describes it a bit) here.
posted by chapps at 3:56 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

My dad got me The Crows of Pearblossom as a gift when I was 2 or 3 -- I think he was tickled by the fact that Huxley had written a kids' book, and that it was so macabre. I vaguely remember sitting in my mom's lap and reading to her when I was three, just to show that I could read. If I had any talent at animation I'd make an animated short out of it, but sadly that ability is out of my reach.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:07 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Great post! I am learning from the blog and this thread about all sorts of books that I had no idea existed. (And Ian Fleming wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?? The mind reels.)

One of my favourite books as a child was Jason's Quest by Margaret Laurence. And thus it is that I grew up not realizing that one of Canada's most influential writers was actually best known for her other books, NOT her children's books. My dad studied and taught Canadian Lit, and so, as with pxe2000's dad and the Aldus Huxley book, I think it tickled him that Margaret Laurence had written a children's book about moles and cats.

Jason's Quest is out of print now; I should submit it to this blog. I lost my childhood copy and had to order an ex-libris copy (a very nice one, the hardcover version) to replace it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:30 PM on January 13, 2012

Mario Puzo
posted by ansate at 6:25 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The world is full of such beautiful things. Thank you for bringing this blog to my attention. And now I actually know about "Rose is a rose is a rose," rather than simply knowing it.
posted by themanwho at 8:30 PM on January 13, 2012

I have the first editions, plus some galleys and miscellaneous bits, from those Ionesco books. Harlin Quist (the publisher) abandoned several boxes of personal letters and publishing detritus when he stopped paying his rent on the NorShor Theatre in Duluth, Minnesota in the early 1990s. He published several books in partnership with a French partner in the late sixties/early seventies utilizing French artists, though his dreams were always bigger than his pocketbook. Also, people were pretty puzzled by the surrealist bent of them. They didn't sell well, and the company tanked. Someday I'm going to scan the whole fascinating lot I salvaged from the dumpster and make a website.
posted by RedEmma at 8:34 AM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oscar Wilde
posted by obloquy at 10:11 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Robert Graves (one at least with help from Maurice Sendak)
posted by IndigoJones at 1:12 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Once upon a time there was an elephant who did nothing all day." - E. E. Cummings

You spelled his name wrong.
posted by ovvl at 8:13 PM on January 17, 2012

That he wanted his name spelled all lowercase was just a story that got going. He himself preferred regular capitalization of his name.
posted by Kattullus at 10:02 AM on January 18, 2012

from those letters i gather that he was not really insistent about not using caps in his name, but rather a bit ambiguous...?
posted by ovvl at 6:00 PM on January 19, 2012

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