"If readers are to come to Shakespeare and to Chekhov, to Henry James and to Jane Austen, then they are best prepared if they have read Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling," writes Harold Bloom in his introduction to this enchanting and much-needed anthology of exceptional stories and poems selected to inspire a lifelong love of reading. As television, video games, and the Internet threaten to distract young people from the solitary pleasures of reading, Bloom presents a volume that will amuse, challenge, and beguile readers with its myriad voices and subjects.
Here are old favorites by beloved writers of children's literature, as well as exciting rediscoveries and wonderful works penned by writers better known for their adult classics, such as Herman Melville, Leo Tolstoy, Edith Wharton, and Walt Whitman. Encompassing the natural world and the supernatural; childhood, romance, and death; pets, wild animals, and goblins; mystery, adventure, and humor; the selections reflect the passion and erudition of our most revered literary critic. Arranged by season, Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages is a must-have anthology, sure to delight readers young and old for years to come.
Apart from the Extremely Pompous title, and the heavy bent toward masculine authors, this collection of classics by the likes of Tolstoy, Edith Wharton, O. Henry, and Lewis Carroll is vastly impressive. And editor Harold Bloom does, of course, explain his title in the introduction. He believes that all the included authors "make themselves open to authentic readers of any age." Despising most "commercially offered" contemporary children's literature, Bloom offers up the greats: Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat," Shakespeare's "The Lion in Winter," Hans Christian Andersen's "The Red Shoes," and dozens upon dozens more, organized on a seasonal scheme. Here, readers of all ages can learn, grow, be entertained, reflect. Bloom quotes poet Wallace Stevens in his test for verse or prose: "it must change, it must give pleasure, and it must be abstract." Every one of these masterpieces of varying lengths is worthy of reading, rereading, and reading aloud--Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages would be wise to look beyond the title and devour this 573-page anthology, cover to cover.
Bloom is the author of more than 20 other books, including another tome on the art of reading, How to Read and Why. (All ages, of course) --Emilie Coulter