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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

What the Dormouse Said: Lessons for Grown-ups from Children's Books

Reviewed: January 25, 2002
By: Collected by Amy Gash
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
146 Pages, $15.95

There’s a lot of wisdom to be found in children’s literature and Amy Gash has mined a substantial amount of it for this little collection of sayings.

>Let’s send this one off to the federal government as it contemplates still further “safety” legislation.

“Safety is all well and good: I prefer freedom”

- The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White (1970)

This was obviously a great motto for those fire fighters in New York last September.

“Live courage, breathe courage, and give courage.”

- Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon, Dhan Gopal Mukerji (1927)

This would do nicely for anyone who has ever taken on an obligation they’re not quite sure they can handle.

“Piglet was so excited at the idea of being Useful that he forgot to be frightened any more.”

- Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne (1926)

Gash introduces herself as someone who wasn’t exposed to a lot of children’s books when she was young, and really only found this treasure trove when she had children of her own. I can appreciate this. I didn’t read Milne, Lewis or Dahl when I was young, either. Maybe this is the reason she spotted these gems in amongst the many books she cites in her source list.

That doesn’t really matter though. This is a neat little twist on the standard “book of quotations” fare and worth keeping around for inspiration.

As Zilpha Keatly Snyder wrote in The Changeling in 1970: “The answers aren’t important really ... What’s important is -- knowing all the questions.”

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