Friday, October 31

The Crows of Pearblossom

by Aldous Huxley
illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Random House / Weekly Reader Books 1967

I'd been meaning to do this for a couple years now, and this week I finally figured out how to make the scanner work, so...

When I was a kid my mom signed me up for the Weekly Reader Book club one summer. I don't remember how often them came but in between book shipments there were book club editions of books. One of them freaked me the heck out at the time but I never said anything about it for fear that I would have the book club taken away from me.

I talked about this book when I was older, in college, and no one believed it existed. My memory of the story was strong but I never remembered the author until one day in my 30's when I caught a passing reference to it in some magazine. It did exist. But I still had to wait another six years or so for the internet to be invented before I could locate a copy of my very own.

The Crows of Pearblossom was Aldous Huxley's only children's book, perhaps for good reason. He wrote originally for his niece in 1944 and a manuscript floated around until Random House and Weekly Reader hooked up with illustrator Barbara Cooney to create a book that creeped me out.

Over time I have come to recognize the value in telling stories that creep kids out. I find the sanitized fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm that are constantly appropriated by Disney, or watered down to "modern sensibilities" to be highly distasteful. It's as if picture books for children must be as sterile as anti-bacterial toys for children, raising a generation of readers so protected from the realities of the world that they don't develop the appropriate immune systems for reading. Could the first wave of these bubble-living readers be the adults looking to ban books for fear of infecting their children?

Anyway, it's Halloween, so here's the treat. The Crows of Pearblossom, scanned and available for your reading pleasure over at my Flickr! account (click on the cover above for the link). Give it a gander and let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

Five bonus points for the comparison to anti-bacterial toys. So true.

Anonymous said...

Huxley wrote a kids' book? I had no idea.I'm gonna go check out the Flickr pics.