“How many of you know what’s important?”
Up went all the hands.
“Very good,” said Stuart, cocking one leg across the other and shoving his hands in the pockets of his jacket. “Henry Rackmeyer, you tell us what is important.”
“A shaft of sunlight at the end of a dark afternoon, a note in music, and the way the back of a baby’s neck smells if its mother keeps it tidy,” answered Henry.
“Correct,” said Stuart. “Those are the important things. You forgot one thing, though. Mary Bendix, what did Henry Rackmeyer forget?”
“He forgot ice cream with chocolate sauce on it,” said Mary quickly.
“Exactly,” said Stuart. “Ice cream is important.”
— Stuart Little, E.B. White
Calling something a “kid’s book” or “children’s literature” should be the highest compliment. After all, I don’t know anything that taught me so much about bravery and kindness as spending time with Lewis Carroll and E.B. White and Tamora Pierce and J.K. Rowling and Roald Dahl. Kid’s books are brilliant. And sometimes, kids are brilliant, like little Mary and Henry, who answered Stuart’s question just right.
Plus, it’s worth nothing that E.B. White had an awesome sense of humor in his everyday interactions, too. Just look at how he turned down a rather impressive offer from an earlier POTUS:Why say “no” when you can decline for secret reasons? I don’t know when I’ll have the balls to do that, but I hope I grow them soon because that is a delicious way to refuse.
Finally, just one more quote from Stuart Little, which is a treasure trove of wisdom that I had forgotten about until just the other day.
“There’s something about north,” he said, “something that sets it apart from all other directions. A person who is heading north is not making any mistake, in my opinion.”
“That’s the way I look at it,” said Stuart. “I rather expect that from now on I shall be traveling north until the end of my days.”
Me too, Stuart.