Books: Caboose Thoughts and Celebrities

It has been glumly observed that a children's book, like cat food, is rarely bought by the actual consumer. Probably not even Ralph Nader could correct this situation. But what it means is that young readers are peculiarly at the mercy of pedagogues, packagers and harried parents, especially in the U.S., where juvenile books are a $150 million-a-year business. This year commercial fashions—some new, some old—are once more depressingly in evidence.

Tomes for tots are still dominated by the Art Director Look. What small children love best is plenty of handsomely presented visual detail,...

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