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books (143 posts)
Ten Thousand Saints
By Eleanor Henderson
The setting: Gritty, energetic New York City in the '80s (with a little small-town Vermont)
Character you'll fall for: Fifteen-year-old Jude because he actually is named after the Beatles song and you don't want him to be afraid
Why we loved it: "The hard-edged settings highlight the touching vulnerability of young characters, who are—behind the sex, drugs and punk rock—innocents..."
Read the full review and browse the complete list of 16 books to watch for this month
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.