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On Jessica Angotti's "Committing the Crime Without Doing the Time" (from 2010)

“Based on my observations, it seems children find a loophole. Straddling reality and fantasy allows them to keep one foot in the story, dancing all night and getting into trouble, and the other one out, avoiding time-outs or bed without dinner. This hokey-pokey stance gives young readers the best of both worlds; in for the good times, out for the bad. Who would want it any other way?”

In “Committing the Crime Without Doing the Time,” a Books in the Home column from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine, Jessica Angotti reflects on her experiences as a nanny, where she had a front-row seat to kids’ loophole-detecting skills. Anyone who’s found themselves on the receiving end of a tiny tyrant’s wily debate tactics will know what she’s talking about.

Surveying some of children’s books’ most notorious troublemakers, from Goldilocks to Max to Olivia, Jessica views their misdeeds through the eyes of her young charge. Reading about recalcitrant picture-book protagonists allows children to live vicariously — and consequence-free — through their fictional counterparts. Of course, this is exactly what makes our favorite bad guys so good.
Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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