Modern Children’s Writers Who Use Metaphor


The Great Lion heard us mention him last week and has decided to follow us to more modern times. I’m so grateful! This week, I’ll mention two beloved children’s writers and a newcomer who all use metaphor.    

“And That Was That . . .” Theodor Geisel was a master poet who loved chaos and made sense of it in a unique way. He wrote The Cat in the Hat using rhyme to help children learn to read. Reading primers was boring. Ted Geisel changed that. The Cat was his personalization of an elevator operator who wore white gloves and had a sly smile. But not only that, the character of the Cat was a metaphor of himself, someone who waltzed into a child’s world with crazy mixed up images—and who always tidied up at the end.                

Uncle Shelby beautifully illustrated how a Tree hugged her Boy and loved him as a mother in Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. She gave him apples, and she gave him branches, and she gave him her trunk, and finally she gave him what was left of her: her stump. “And the Tree was happy.”

A man among mice, Kevin Henkes, understands a child’s feelings. That’s why he wrote and illustrated Wemberly Worried, the story of a child mouse who worried about starting nursery school and how she would fit in. In a child’s mind, mice are people, too.

All three writers are illustrators, an added benefit since each can show his vision of the story without hiring another artist to interpret it. And all three spin their magic to explain solutions to problems.

Next time, I’ll comment on famous stories and what they teach.

Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.

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