“[C]hildren often prefer the factual over the fantastical. And a growing body of work suggests that when it comes to storybooks, they also learn better from stories that are realistic. For example, preschool-aged children are more likely to learn new facts about animals when the animals are portrayed realistically as opposed to anthropomorphically.” Two new studies suggest that where learning is concerned, realism trumps fantasy in children’s books. Which is as good a time as any to ask our own Jacob Lambert‘s question: Are picture books leading our children astray?
What if a treasure hunt in a book crossed over into the real world? Author Kit Williams buried a prize and left clues to its location in his novel, Masquerade. The search drove England crazy. Our own Hannah Gersen maps the imaginary in her essay about how authors organize their manuscripts.
"What I’ve found is that a lot of soldiers are surprisingly apolitical. Their reality is, 'Today I’m going to leave the gate for twelve hours, and I’m going to make it back to the dining facility by sundown with the arms and legs of me and my buddies intact.' So you say, 'Well, what about the Project for the New American Century and the preexisting agenda blah blah blah?' They go, 'Yeah, that’s cool, but I have to get through today.' So their reality is not a political reality as much as it’s, 'If I’m driving by this piece of garbage, will it blow up?'" Revisit this old interview with Henry Rollins over at Guernica Magazine, which manages the nearly impossible: to be both level-headed and political.
"The short story, as a form, has plenty of defenders," the collection of unconnected short stories, maybe not so much. In an essay for LitHub, regular Millions contributor Jonathan Russell Clark praises the unlinked stories of Barbara the Slut and Other People and Single, Carefree, Mellow because "despite a lack of the wholeness of a novel, something complete and true and hard-won emerges by the end."
New this week: My Name Is Lucy Barton by the Pulitzer laureate and Year in Reading alumna Elizabeth Strout; The Happy Marriage by Tahar Ben Jelloun; And Again by Jessica Chiarella; American Housewife by Helen Ellis; Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa; This Census-Taker by China Miéville; Eleanor by Jason Gurley; The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne; and Even the Dead by John Banville's alter-ego Benjamin Black. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2016 Book Preview.