Join an international crew of guests as they discuss Jerry Griswold’s new “Behind Children’s Books”


May 15, 2020. Jerry Griswold’s new book offers “Backstories & Revelations” about classic and contemporary children’s stories

  • How were Ronald Reagan’s political views shaped by his favorite childhood books?
  • What does Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) say is the very heart of “The Wizard of Oz”?
  • And what explains the preponderance of bears in children’s books and flying in African-American stories?


Backstories & Revelations by Jerry Griswold

“Behind Children’s Books: Backstories & Revelations” (148pp; pub date May 15).
  • How were Ronald Reagan’s political views shaped by his favorite childhood books?
  • What does Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) say is the very heart of “The Wizard of Oz”?
  • And what explains the preponderance of bears in children’s books and flying in African-American stories?


“Like a famished alley mutt, he digs away at the bone of truth”


They began with injured horses in World War I


Disney’s politics in the era of the New Deal and FDR (from the NYTimes Book Review)

“The Adventures of Mickey Mouse (50th Birthday Edition),” by Walt Disney (David McKay Company, 1978)


Food and the dead, Irish begging door-to-door, Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”

“Coco,” directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina (Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Studios, 2017). A terrific animated film that makes use of Mexican customs surrounding the Day of the Dead.


Can grown-ups be trusted?

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” directed by Tim Burton (Warner Bros, 2005)

Jerry Griswold

Writer/critic/professor/journalist: children’s literature, culture, film, travel. Seven books, 100's of essays in NY&LA Times.

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