Books: For Children

Brittle good intentions glare out from the bright pages of this year's children's books, but most are sad failures, lacking equally in anything resembling either joy or pain. Publishers are like elderly relatives who come to visit—they coo, they tweak too many cheeks. Worse than relatives, they also play up to parents by dropping names, and they charge high prices to do it: this year's list includes several books for very small children that cost upwards of $3, putting an unnaturally high price on a child's natural impulse for destruction.

A Is for Awful. Among the books most bragged about are the...

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