An Upsetting Book With a Happy Cover


Some of my favorite books are books written for children around 10 or 12 years old. Decades after I discovered them, I still love to re-read The Phantom Tollbooth, The House with the Clock in its Walls, and The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues. As an adult, I sometimes dip into today’s kid’s lit in hopes of coming across something to add to my favorites list.

This is how I wound up reading Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder. It’s a bored-rich-girl-becomes-challenged-poor-girl story where both her parents are alive and also redefining themselves. It was both silly and real, and it was a fun read. The main character Penny loves books. Most of what she knows about the world she learned from stories she’s read. So it isn’t surprising that she constantly comments on things around her in terms of children’s books.

I laughed out loud when I read this:

Maybe Duncan was like an upsetting book with an ordinary, happy cover. Maybe he was Bridge to Terabithia. —in Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder.

I remember being floored by the tragic story in Bridge to Terabithia when I read it as a kid. It is most certainly “an upsetting book with an ordinary, happy cover.” Penny Dreadful was full of passing observations about children’s books that I know well which is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. It was fun to read a new story while be reminded of old ones.

I know there are lots of other adults reading young adult and even children’s fiction for pleasure. Which kid’s books are your favorites? Are you still reading kid lit today?

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