October 22, 1984 12:00 PM

by Clifton Fadiman

Two beautiful volumes in a heavy slipcase contain what must be the most amazing trove ever bound together for children. Among the special works are Marie Hall Ets’ Play With Me, Ruth Krauss’ A Hole Is to Dig (with drawings by Maurice Sendak), Jean de Brunhoff’s The Story of Babar, Ezra Jack Keats’ Hi, Cat!, H.A. Rey’s Curious George, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, A. A. Milne’s Buckingham Palace, and Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Leo Lionni’s Fredericks included too (some critics would have selected Lionni’s Swimmy, which has some of the most imaginative, beautiful illustrations in children’s literature). All the stories and poems in these volumes include at least one of the original illustrations that helped make them treasures. Fadiman, an 80-year-old literary gentleman who has spent all his life writing, reading and reviewing books, provides an introduction that quotes the heroine of Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy: “How I love to read…. The whole world gets bigger….” There are more than 150 stories and poems in this splendid anthology. Every child who loves books or who ought to love books—every child, indeed—deserves to have a copy. (Little, Brown, $40)

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