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Eudora Welty on the Oxford Companion to Children's Lit

Novelist and short-story writer Eudora Welty spent the summer of 1944 working at the New York Times Book Review, and continued to write for the publication for many years afterward.

Here she is, writing about the 1984 edition of The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. Her review ran as "Innocence, Sin and J.D. Salinger" in the NYTBR of August 19, 1984.

Clearly, no expense, no drudgery of research and selection and compiling, were spared in the preparation of this volume. And now—to whom will it be a companion? The librarians, the collectors, the rare book dealers, the thesis writers—yes, all of these from now on. But hardly for the children. It is a reference book, but if a book concerns children, it should be theirs to consult. One hoped for a book they could read and live with that would nourish their love for reading. Perhaps it's my failure to recognize it in the Companion, but I felt the absence of some central love of literature that would have warmed the whole.

The piece also appeared in A Writer's Eye: Collected Book Reviews, edited by Pearl Amelia McHaney (University Press of Mississippi, 1994), which was my source for the quotation.


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I like that she differentiates between scholarly work and passion. I, too, find that in the haste to close gaps, plug holes in arguments, and create thoroughness in reference much of the passion is removed. Obviously everyone wants correct information, but I stand with Eudora. I want warm fuzzies too. Of course, I like Eudora Welty and may not be completely without bias.

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