Krauss's influence has been so pervasive as to have become invisible: Contemporary readers take for granted that there have always been vital, spontaneous, loose-tongued children in children's books. There haven't.Philip Nel, from Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature, 2012
Snap! The cold breath of the moon froze the sweat on Gretel's neck. The dragon felt it, too, and turned. The moon snapped again. The dragon twisted. The moon wanted nothing to do with the dragon. Not that the moon is afraid of dragons. The moon is not afraid of anything, except the sun, and only then because the sun calls him names and he does not appreciate that. Still, the moon does not generally bother dragons. Of course, dragons do not often have children on their backs. And the moon rarely passes up an opportunity to taste the succulent, tender meat of a child.Adam Gidwitz, From A Tale Dark & Grimm, 2010
"I want to live," the Sibyl said, and her voice rang rich and full. "I want to keep on living forever and watching heroes and fools and knights go up and down, into the world and out. I want to keep being myself and mind the work that minds me. Work is not always a hard thing that looms over your years. Sometimes, work is the gift of the world to the wanting."Catherynne M. Valente, from The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, 2012
little treee.e. cummings, from Little Tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
Because my grandmother made meJake Adam York, "Grace"
the breakfast her mother made her,
when I crack the eggs, pat the butter
on the toast, and remember the bacon
to cast iron, to fork, to plate, to tongue,
my great grandmother moves my hands
to whisk, to spatula, to biscuit ring,
and I move her hands too, making
her mess, so the syllable of batter
I'll find tomorrow beneath the fridge
and the strew of salt and oil are all
memorials, like the pan-fried chicken
that whistles in the grease in the voice
of my best friend's grandmother
like a midnight mockingbird,
and the smoke from the grill
is the smell of my father coming home
from the furnace and the tang
of vinegar and char is the smell
of Birmingham, the smell
of coming home, of history, redolent
as the salt of black-and-white film
when I unwrap the sandwich
from the wax-paper the wax-paper
crackling like the cold grass
along the Selma to Montgomery road,
like the foil that held
Medgar's last meal, a square of tin
that is just the ghost of that barbecue
I can imagine to my tongue
when I stand at the pit with my brother
and think of all the hands and mouths
and breaths of air that sharpened
this flavor and handed it down to us,
I feel all those hands inside
my hands when it's time to spread
the table linen or lift a coffin rail
and when the smoke billows from the pit
I think of my uncle, I think of my uncle
rising, not falling, when I raise
the buttermilk and the cornmeal to the light
before giving them to the skillet
and sometimes I say the recipe
to the air and sometimes I say his name
or her name or her name
and sometimes I just set the table
because meals are memorials
that teach us how to move,
history moves in us as we raise
our voices and then our glasses
to pour a little out for those
who poured out everything for us,
we pour ourselves for them,
so they can eat again.
Who would not sing for Lycidas? An abundance poured out for you, good sir, and flying wishes echoed: To Parnassus, Jake Adam York, Godspeed.
Now she came to a mountain where there were deep wagon ruts on either side of the path. “Will you look at that,” said Katelizabeth. “How they’ve worn down and torn up and squashed the poor earth. It’ll never heal as long as it lives.” And out of the goodness of her heart she took the butter and smeared it on the ruts, right and left, so the wheels would not hurt it anymore.”From "Frederick and His Katelizabeth," The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm, 1973
Translated by Lore Segal and Randall Jarrell
"You can lend me a little of that red lead," Moominpappa said. "I must paint a low-water mark on the rock before the sea starts to rise again. I really must keep a serious check on the level of the water. You see, I want to find out whether the sea works to a system of some kind or whether it just behaves as it likes...It's very important."
"Have you made a lot of notes?" asked Moominmamma.
"Yes, lots. But I need a lot more before I can start writing my book." Moominpappa leant across the table and said confidentially: "I want to know if the sea is really obstinate, or whether it obeys."Tove Jansson, from Moominpappa at Sea, 1933
Translated by Kingsley Hart
The plain truth was that Bunyip and his Uncle lived in a small house in a tree, and there was no room for the whiskers. What was worse, the whiskers were red, and they blew about in the wind, and Uncle Wattleberry would insist on bringing them to the dinner table with him, where they got in the soup.
Bunyip Bluegum was a tidy bear, and he objected to whisker soup, and so he was forced to eat his meals outside, which was awkward, and besides, lizards came and borrowed his soup.Norman Lindsay, from The Magic Pudding, 1918
"Don't you know the sound of bees?" he said. I had never heard bees, and could not know the sound of them. "Those are my lady's bees," he went on. I had heard that bees gather honey from the flowers. "But where are the flowers for them?" I asked. "My lady's bees gather their honey from the sun and the stars," said the little man. "Do let me see them," I said. "No. I daren't do that," he answered. "I have no business with them. I don't understand them. Besides, they are so bright that if one were to fly into your eye, it would blind you altogether." "Then you have seen them?" "Oh, yes! Once or twice, I think. But I don't quite know: they are so very bright--like buttons of lightning."George MacDonald, from At the Back of the North Wind, 1871
"In stories, when someone appears in a poof of green clouds and asks a girl to go away on an adventure, it's because she's special, because she's smart and strong and can solve riddles and fight with swords and give really good speeches, and...I don't know that I'm any of those things. I don't even know that I'm as ill-tempered as all that. I'm not dull or anything, I know about geography and chess, and I can fix the boiler when my mother has to work. But what I mean to say is: Maybe you meant to go to another girl's house and let her ride on the leopard. Maybe you didn't mean to choose me at all, because I'm not like storybook girls. I'm short and my father ran away with the army and I wouldn't even be able to keep a dog from eating a bird."
The Leopard turned her prodigious spotted head and looked at September with large, solemn yellow eyes.
"We came for you," she growled. "Just you."
Catherynne M. Valente, from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, 2011
...why, what are those creatures, making honey down there? They ca'n't be bees--nobody ever saw bees a mile off, you know--" and for some time she stood silent, watching one of them that was bustling among the flowers, poking its proboscis into them "just as if it was a regular bee," thought Alice.
However, this was anything but a regular bee: in fact, it was an elephant--as Alice soon found out, though the idea quite took her breath away at first. "And what enormous flowers they must be!" was her next idea. "Something like cottages with the roofs taken off, and stalks put to them--and what quantities of honey they must make! I think I'll go down and--no, I won't go just yet," she went on, checking herself as she was just beginning to run down the hill, and trying to find some excuse for turning shy so suddenly." It'll never do to go down among them without a good long branch to brush them away--and what fun it'll be when they ask me how I liked my walk. I shall say, "Oh, I liked it well enough--" (here came the favourite little toss of the head), "only it was so dusty and hot and the elephants did tease so!"
Lewis Carroll, from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872
At the winter's midnightWilliam Carlos Williams, from "Burning the Christmas Greens," 1944
we went to the trees, the coarse
holly, the basalm and
the hemlock for their green
At the thick of the dark
the moment of the cold's
deepest plunge we brought branches
cut from the green trees
to fill our need, and over
doorways, about paper Christmas
bells covered with tinfoil
and fastened by red ribbons
we stuck the green prongs
in the windows hung
woven wreaths and above pictures
the living green. On the
mantle we built a green forest
and among those hemlock
sprays put a herd of small
white deer as if they
were walking there. All this!
and it seemed gentle and good
to us. Their time past,
relief! The room bare. We
stuffed the dead grate
with them upon the half burnt out
log's smoldering eye, opening
red and closing under them
and we stood there looking down.
Green is a solace
a promise of peace, a fort
against the cold (though we
did not say so) a challenge
above the snow's
hard shell. Green (we might
have said) that, where
small birds hide and dodge
and lift their plaintive
rallying cries, blocks for them
and knocks down
the unseeing bullets of
the storm. Green spruce boughs
pulled down by a weight of
They carried the fir tree out in the garden and planted it firmly in the snow. Then they started to decorate it all over with the most beautiful things they could think up.
They adorned it with the big shells from the summertime flower-beds, and with the Snork Maiden's shell necklace. They took the prisms from the drawing-room chandelier and hung them from the branches, and at the very top they pinned a red silk rose that Moominpappa had once upon a time given Moominmamma as a present.
Everybody brought the most beautiful thing he had to placate the incomprehensible powers of winter.
Tove Jansson, from Tales From Moominvalley, 1962
Translated by Thomas Warburton
The eiderdown was blue. Moominmamma had collected the down for six years and now the eiderdown lay in the guest room facing south inside its cover of crocheted lace waiting for someone to be comfortable. Mymble decided to have a hot-water bottle at her feet, she knew where they were kept in this house. She would wash her hair in rainwater every fifth day. She would take a little nap at dusk. In the evening the kitchen would be warm from the cooking.Tove Jansson, from Moominvalley in November, 1971
You can lie on a bridge and watch the water flowing past. Or run, wade through a swamp in your red boots. Or roll yourself up and listen to the rain falling on the roof. It's very easy to enjoy yourself.
Translated by Kingsley Hart