They say that children’s books are a dying breed. I’ve written about it before and it’s made me sad to think about it ever since. Author Jesse Kornbluth seems to be in the same camp.
In his review of the classic Polar Express, Kornbluth makes a strong case for reading to your kids, calling it the “most interactive medium of all.” (I’ve always been partial to Goodnight Moon, but this might have convinced me.)
Here’s his take:
A simple story. A timeless story, and on purpose—as Van Allsburg has said, “If you opened up my books and there was no copyright page, you wouldn’t be able to tell exactly when it was published.” It’s precisely because the illustrations do not anchor us to our time, our town, that we can deal more directly with the theme of the book.
That theme is belief. Not in Santa, though that will do just fine for kids. Belief in really big things, things we hope are true even in the face of all the information that says they are not.
While he’s not a fan of the movie version, stating that “it’s always sad when Hollywood makes a $150 million film that falters for such obvious reasons,” he reassures us that it doesn’t tarnish the magic of the book itself:
Find a child. And settle in your chair. And start to read. Before you know it, your eyes will mist, you’ll be reaching for the Kleenex, and—and this is the best part of all, especially for the sophisticated and the hard of heart and the bitterly disappointed—you will believe.