Brain Pickings

The Bed Book: Sylvia Plath’s Vintage Poems for Kids, Illustrated by Quentin Blake

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“Most Beds are Beds for sleeping and resting, but the best Beds are much more interesting!”

In 1959, Sylvia Plath — celebrated poet, little-known artist, lover of the world, repressed “addict of experience”, steamy romancer — penned a lovely children’s story about the perils of self-consciousness. But it turns out it wasn’t her only: In 1976, Faber published The Bed Book (public library) — a series of fanciful poems about different kinds of beds, written for Plath’s own children, sprinkled with fantasy and escapism. The original British edition, of which I was fortunate to track down a copy, was illustrated by the celebrated and prolific children’s book artist Quentin Blake, best-known for illustrating Roald Dahl’s stories as well as the first Dr. Seuss book not illustrated by Seuss himself.

Alas, the American edition, published in 1989 by HarperCollins, did away with the Blake illustrations — but used copies of the British one can still be found online or borrowed at some libraries.

Complement The Bed Book with other lesser-known children’s books by literary titans, including William Faulkner, James Joyce, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Mary Shelley, Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, Aldous Huxley, Gertrude Stein, James Thurber, Carl Sandburg, Salman Rushdie, Ian Fleming, and Langston Hughes.

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