Things are better now, but for a while it seemed like there was a Puritanism running through children's publishing that bore no resemblance to reality. Kids were thought to be unable to separate the mildly gross from the debauched -- to my mind, a horribly patronizing attitude. My children adored Roald Dahl, and they had no problem separating out his diet of squashed worm sandwiches from their real dinner. Fortunately, the socially correct tourniquet around children's books seems to be easing, but a new Big Brother arrived on the scene. One that says, "We mustn't frighten children with long words and complexity." It's curious to note that a first-time submission of Alice in Wonderland would probably be passed over by the majority of present-day children's book publishers, and Lewis Carroll would be piling up those little rejection slips. It really shouldn't be a matter of choosing between Grimm and bland, but as long as we underestimate our children as much as we overestimate ourselves, we will reap the inevitably unpleasant rewards.
Nick Bantock, Artful Dodger