Don't Tell the Grown-Ups

by Alison Lurie. Little, Brown, $19.95. Ms. Lurie presents a series of essays on children’s books, all centered on the proposition that children prefer books that contradict everything their elders have told them about being good little girls and boys. This will be no news to anyone who recalls being a child, but Ms. Lurie’s biographical sketches of the authors of such books are neatly done and broaden the interest of her subject. How, one wonders, could Kate Greenaway have doted on the ancient and dotty Ruskin? How, indeed, could anybody?