Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Two Losses

Last week Tasha Tudor, the children's book writer and illustrator, died at the age of 92. Tudor's illustrations for A Little Princess and The Secret Garden are part of my childhood, part of the way I will always read those books. Reading about her life I found myself intrigued and at the same time distanced; much as I love, for example, Victorian literature, I am always grateful to have been born in a time of indoor plumbing, women's rights, and (for all I curse it) the internet.

Yesterday George Carlin died at the age of 71, and as I think about his impact on my life I'm again glad not to have lived in the 19th century, for then I would never have had George Carlin's humor. His wordplay was of the best kind: funny and thought-provoking, silly and serious at the same time. Some of his phrases have simply passed into my lexicon, no longer attributed--and I've never been able teach about oxymoron without using his examples ("jumbo shrimp," "military intelligence").

King Kaufman and Joan Walsh both recall Carlin in today; Walsh also links to an interview he did with Heather Havrilesky earlier this year.

It's hard to imagine Carlin and Tudor together--one looking backward, with love and nostalgia, the other looking right at us, dead-on, with clarity and biting wit. Both enriched my life.

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