In my post yesterday I put a call out for your favorite kids comics, new or old (I'm still looking for titles if you'd like to comment on yesterdays post!) and the question of what's too scary for kids came up. It's the sort of natural question that bubbles up from this type of conversation as is a completely valid one. I always initially respond to the question in a knee jerk way, kids are tough! They can handle scary stuff!
In fact, when I was a kid, I often found books for kids a lot scarier than stuff made for adults. Maybe I would just miss the nuances in the grown up stories. I probably still do. But kids books speak of a children's world, and the things that are frightening and difficult in that world. Of which there are many things.
In any case, I relented. Of course stories that comfort or teach simple lessons are valid. And if a parent finds something too scary for their kids they are doing nothing wrong by not buying that book for them.
But I still think many of the best kids books have a wildness and an uncertainty that reflects the experiences not just of childhood but of life.
On Twitter yesterday I came across this excellent New York Times interview with Maurice Sendak, who says it far better than I ever could.
"If you look at the work of Tomi Ungerer, it’s passionate, it’s personal, it’s marvelous and it’s cuckoo, and it’s that’s kind of veracity that’s always made for good children’s literature" Maurice Sendak