‘All grownups started off as children (though few of them remember).’ – The Little Prince.
When I co-edited antiTHESIS journal early last year, we were lucky enough to have an image contributed by Shaun Tan. This was before he had won his Oscar, before his illustration had graced the cover of Overland, and at that time I knew very little of his work. Yet the picture was so wonderfully otherworldly it made me seek out his picture books for more of these strange and beautiful illustrations. For a time, I would visit bookstores and instead of heading directly into the fiction section and the familiar comfort of orange-and-white spines, I walked into the alien territory marked ‘Children’s Books’ with its garish covers and overabundance of animals.
I sought out The Lost Thing, The Red Tree, and (my favourite) Eric, and as I flipped through their pages it took me back to a time when I read books not for erudition, or research, or to review and critique – but to while away the hours in strange new worlds with beautiful illustrations.
With the popularity of the Harry Potter series, and picture books intended for adults such as the wildly popular Go the F**k to Sleep, many adults do indeed read children’s stories for pleasure. But there is something very different about returning to the dustier sections of your bookshelf to read a novel you discovered as a child.
‘Returns To’ will be a series on Liticism where I’ll invite other writers to return to their favourite childhood books, beginning tomorrow with my own favourite: Roald Dahl’s Matilda.
— Original image source.