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At Last: Kiddie Books for Your Inner Adult
There are a lot of children's picture books out there that speak to grown-ups as well as kids. This is why 21-year college graduates often get a copy of The Lorax—and why I still get weepy over The Giving Tree by page three, embarrassing my children and staining the black-and-white drawings with tear blobs.
But what about children's picture books that aren't for kids? Two weeks ago, Go the F*** to Sleep hit the number one best-selling spot on Amazon.com, and the book isn't even slated to reach stores until June. Every parent in the world—and child-free friend of a parent—can relate to the message of this hysterical, brilliant, totally inappropriate, curse-filled nursery rhyme:
The eagles who soar through the sky are at rest / And the creatures who crawl, run and creep / I know you're not thirsty. That's bullshit. Stop lying / Lie the f*** down, my darling, and sleep.
Meanwhile, David Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) also has an adult-only children's book coming out the same month. When Marlana Pulled a Thread tells the story of a girl who finds a loose stitch in the world and yanks—undoing trees, palaces, towns, people—until all that's left is a black tangle. For a child, the idea that you can destroy things long past the point of any happy ending is a little overwhelming and scary. But for an adult, it's a much-needed reminder of the consequences of how we live our lives.
There's something kinder and easier to take, too, about being shown such a painfully true parable by comforting, retro line drawings. I am considering writing and illustrating such a book for my husband called Lawrence Takes Out the Trash.