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Lit Swells Do It for the Kids

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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MAGGIE MAY I? Gyllenhall The battle between literary nonprofits hit a fever pitch this week as two Park Slope, Brooklyn–based organizations scheduled anthology readings one night apart from one another. 826NYC's The Book of Other People and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Brooklyn Was Mine were in a well-read slap-fight to see who could prove themselves the worthier receptacle for our charity: 826NYC for child literacy, or DDDB for the development of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards. Surely babies and Brooklyn can't both win.

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But as 826NYC promised star power Wednesday night, we decided to take them up on their generous invitation. And the group didn't disappoint, showing a competitive edge beyond its formidable anthology of 25 literati heavyweights (Zadie Smith, Vendela Vida, George Saunders, among others) with a stellar celebrity guest, Maggie Gyllenhaal. As if occasional megastars weren't enough, they threw in a few tots to please the cooing crowd. And besides, the wide-eyed wonder of a child who writes a short story about a bald, rich man who sometimes wears only pink tank tops and panties will always trump a clique of bulldozer-blocking Lacoste-catalog recipients. Especially if the former gets a 10-year-old to moonwalk off the stage after a reading.

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