The Avid Reader March 2009
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In This Issue:

The Magic of Roald Dahl

» The Magic of Roald Dahl

» Realistic Kids' Books

» On the Site

» Most expensive sales in February

This issue of the Avid Reader takes a look at some of the children's books, then and now, that pulled no punches. Whether gruesome, gory fairytales or frank, honest stories about difficult subjects, we're discussing the authors who tell it like it is, to kids.

When I think of books for children that don't condescend or patronize, that are beastly and full of fun, the first and foremost name that comes to mind is Roald Dahl.

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James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl The Magic of Roald Dahl

The worlds Dahl created were populated by friendly giants, oversized talking insects, dedicated fathers, and beloved grandmothers. And, of course, the world's most amazing chocolate factory. Dahl's books were as full of excitement and joy as any, and just enough impossible, wonderful events to satisfy any child's craving for enchantment.

What made Roald Dahl so unusual as a children's author was his apparent relish of horrid, nasty, and unpleasant things that would make one's toes curl. In The Witches, the grandmamma not only smokes filthy, black cigars....

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Little Red Riding Hood Realistic Kids' Books

Do modern children's books shelter youngsters too much? There is a place for The Poky Little Puppy and The Little Engine that Could, and maybe even for the Care Bears. After all, following parents' instructions, perseverance and kindness are important life lessons. But surely there's still a place for the gruesome fairytales with wicked witches and hungry wolves, as well as matter-of-fact children's books that pull no punches. Literarily speaking, have we gone too soft?

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See the 10 Most Expensive Irish Books sold on AbeBooks Learn More


Hand-me-down Cookbooks survey

Hand-me-down CookbooksDo you own a cookbook that has been handed down to you by your parents, grandmother, or even great grandparents? AbeBooks wants to know about your family heirloom cookbooks. Whether it's the Joy of Cooking, Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course or other, your contribution could be used in a cookery feature on AbeBooks. Thanks very much.

Take the Hand-me-down cookbook survey

Discover Victorian Yellowbacks

Collecting YellowbacksStep back to Queen Victoria's heyday and open a Yellowback... if you can find one. Yellowbacks were inexpensive, highly commercial paperbacks published in Victorian Britain and sold through W.H. Smith bookstalls in railway stations. Today, they are highly collectible and harder to find.

Read the full feature

Most Expensive Books Sold in February
  1. The Catcher in the Rye
    J.D. Salinger - $11,000
  2. Dreams from my Father
    Barack Obama - $8,500
  3. Summa Theologiae, pars Secunda
    Antoninus - $6,218
  4. Peter Beard: Art Edition
    Owen Edwards - $5,495
  5. Forever Odd
    Dean Koontz - $4,550
See the Whole List in the Rare Book Room
30 Novels Worth Buying For the Cover Alone

Gorgeous cover Strawberry FieldsLet's hear it for the book designers. They give a visual perspective to somebody else's written art, find balance in color and shape, simplicity and uniqueness. A book must stand out on the bookstore bookshelf yet cover designers rarely receive the recognition that authors do. In appreciation of these unsung artists, here are 30 gorgeous fiction covers - all worth buying for the cover alone.

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Ilana Stanger-Ross Interview

Interview with Ilana Stanger-RossIlana Stanger-Ross writes about a bra shop in New York. Her debut novel, Sima's Undergarments for Women examines the daily life struggles and relationships of modern life in Jewish Brooklyn.

Read the interview

Signed Bestsellers in February
  1. The Graveyard Book
    Neil Gaiman
  2. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
    Junot Diaz
  3. Cutting for Stone
    Abraham Verghese
  4. Fool
    Christopher Moore
  5. Vagrants
    Yiyun Li
See The Whole List on the Homepage
"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." - JORGE LUIS BORGES
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