With lilting voice and great enjoyment, Lanes brings readers behind the scenes where Maurice Sendak sits at home sketching, Beatrix Potter marries and leaves literature behind in favor of sheep, Hans Christian Andersen writes letters for years to a young editor he wishes to ignore. Lanes doesn’t idealize childhood, but she clearly relishes her job of writing about children’s books and their creators. Her enthusiasm is catching, her essays and reviews short and sweet. Several are 30 years old but still fresh. One awkward chapter about political correctness draws a misguided line between literature and propaganda rather than between complexity and over-simplicity. If Harry Potter receives more enthusiasm than the likes of Ezra Jack Keats and Ernest Shepard, Lanes makes up for it with her good humor and her placement of children’s literature in the greater world of Henry James and Picasso. Art gets its full due. Lanes brings us deliciously closer to the works and process of Ursula Nordstrom (chapter title: “Some Editor”), William Steig, E.B. White, and others in personal musings full of both romance and pragmatism.