All children's books are about ideals. Adult fiction sets out to portray and then explain the world as it really is; books for children present it as it should be. Child readers come to them hoping for a certain amount of instruction, but chiefly for stories in which the petty restrictions of ordinary life are removed: they want to encounter people who can fly, geese that lay golden eggs, frogs that turn into princes, spaceships piloted by children, anything that measures up to their ideals of adventure and imagination. Adults, on the other hand, are more likely to want to feed the children a set of moral examples. By all means, let them have their fun, but the opportunity of providing models of ideal behaviour is not to be wasted.
Humphrey Carpenter (b. 1946), Anglo–American critic, children's literature specialist. "Prologue: The Road to Arcadia," Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children's Literature, Houghton Mifflin (1985).