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To Let—A Poet’s House in the English Lakes. Perhaps some one who plans to spend next summer in England will be interested to rent a delightful house near Keswick in the English Lakes which belongs to the family of the young English poet, W. H. Auden. THE HORN BOOK will be glad to supply address.
May 6, 1940
Dear Horn Book:
Would you like to do something that would put all authors of children’s books forever in your debt? Then tuck away in some future issue a little note of appeal to school librarians and teachers asking them to point out to their students that it is still good form when writing to authors to enclose a stamped and self-addressed envelope, if a reply is desired.
I say school librarians and teachers because apparently in schools all over the U. S. A. certain classes have weekly or monthly book review periods wherein each student chooses an author to whom he will write. Evidently the author’s reply is part of the student’s verbal or written report. And if the reply doesn’t come in, alas, the student’s report is incomplete and he may get a low grade. Now, an author who has children of his own in school is also, alas, familiar with the tragedy of a low grade; consequently he feels that here is a letter that must be answered at once, answered even before he begins revision on that last chapter. And while he would like to believe that any student who is intelligent enough to choose him as an author must therefore always be at the top of his class, he knows very well that the opposite is more likely to be true: his correspondent is probably always at the foot of the class and therefore needs all possible help, and needs it quickly. So the harassed author rushes to the mail box with a reply, especially if the request has come in the form of an S 0 S, by air mail.
At least one such letter arrives five days a week; a Monday will bring three or four. All are requests for an autograph, or for an autographed photograph, or for answers to a questionnaire, or even for a book plate “because I am also making a collection of book plates of my favorite authors and you are one of nineteen.” Now, an autograph is a simple matter—if a self-addressed envelope is enclosed. A request for an autographed photograph makes me wonder if some jr. authors are fortunate enough when their royalty statements come in to compete here with movie actors. And if so, how do they manage to compete in looks? To fill out a questionnaire takes more time than most of us can afford. And what do you do about a book plate when you have no book plate?
Most of these letters are so worded that it is clear to me that the thirty-odd other members of this student’s class are sending similar requests to thirty-odd other authors. Therefore, in the name of all these children’s authors, I appeal to you for help. Please suggest a stamped and self-addressed envelope as an enclosure.
Could you, would you, do this—and without mentioning my name?
The White House
July 31, 1940
Dear Horn Book:
Thank you for sending me The Horn Book Magazine and for calling my attention to Mr. Daugherty’s article. It is an excellent article.
Very sincerely yours,
January 22, 1941
I am enclosing an order for The Horn Book for a twelve year old who is so interested in books that she has bought both Realms of Gold and Five Years of Children’s Books. She has catalogued all of her own books most professionally and now comes over, just because she likes to, to list and catalogue all of mine. I am sure Horn Book is going to bring her some of the joy it has brought to me.
My new copy arrived today but is still in its paper wrapper. I’m saving it for lunch. Perhaps you didn’t know that I have lunch with Anne Carroll Moore and all of you whenever The Horn Book arrives. You talk — I listen — having a perfectly grand time.
Mary Griffin Newton
War Planes in the Lonely Hills
In a letter received just as The Horn Book goes to press, Mrs. Beatrix Potter Heelis writes: “The title of my essay (see page 153) — its ‘moral’ too — is from Wordsworth’s poem, the ‘Song at the Feast of Brougham (Upon the Restoration of Lord Clifford, the Shepherd, to the estates and Honors of his Ancestors)’ . . . ‘the sleep that is among the lonely hills.’ I have so often thought of those lines, since ‘the silence of the starry sky’ has been interrupted by aeroplanes, which at first we detested; but since the war we delight to see the golden Hurricanes against the blue. They are infinitely finer fliers than they used to be; though there are still a few disasters in the mist; and a few lucky landings, like the American airman who landed a Spitfire in quite a small pasture. He skillfully taxied on the turf in a semicircle instead of going straight and running into a field wall. The plane was not even scratched. The wings had to be removed; the pilot wanted take off on his own, but it was considered too risky. His plane went away on a lorry with a trailer.”
Are Children Good Book Detectives?
The Horn Book is indebted to Miss Dilla W. MacBean, Library Adviser to the Superintendent of Schools, Board of Education, City of Chicago, for the following report of book interest stimulated by the Chicago Elementary School Libraries.
Elementary school libraries have been organized in the Chicago Public Schools within the past ten years so that now, with few exceptions, all 333 schools have a centralized library. Just short of a million books were circulated for home reading during this past school year through these libraries. Trained teacher-librarians guide the reading of these youngsters and many a tale they relate of the fun these city children have in their reading.
One school in particular, because of its location, the inspiring efforts of its librarian — Mrs. Gertrude Zockert — and the importance of the library in the reading program and all the school’s activities, deserves special mention. The Jackson School — only a couple of blocks from Hull House and in a neighborhood where the children have little in cultural advantages in the home — seeks to enrich the lives of its pupils through the school and its program.
To realize how these youngsters have become aware of the fun, the pleasure, and enjoyment in reading, one should visit the school, and see the art and handwork which they produce to interpret their creative ideas of favorite book titles and characters; the enthusiasm of different teams of children on the Battle of Books radio book-quiz program; and the library’s scrapbook of photographs of their favorite authors. However, one of the best pieces of evidence is a letter three inquisitive girls wrote Robert McCloskey regarding one of his illustrations in Homer Price. They had fun in reading the book, much fun in writing the letter, and the most fun in receiving the reply. Here they are: —
Chicago 7, Illinois
April 4, 1946
Dear Mr. McCloskey:
We are three girls from the Jackson School in grade 7B. We have enjoyed reading Make Way for Ducklings, Lentil and Homer Price. We are wondering about one thing in Homer Price. All through the chapter, “The Case of the Sensational Scent,” you speak of four robbers. In some of the pictures there are four robbers. What we would like to know is how the extra robber got in the bed on page twenty-five?
Did the publisher make a mistake? Did you make a mistake accidentally or did you put him there on purpose to see if children are good detectives?
Dear Dorothy, Stella and Margaret:
You are wondering about something that I have been wondering about for a long time too. l don’t know just how that extra robber slipped into bed in the book about Homer. At the time I made that picture I just wasn’t counting enough. . . . Counting the number of fingers and toes and ears and eyes that are supposed to go with each person, and the right number of legs for dog and bed and person adds up to a lot of counting.
Publishing a book involves a lot of counting too, and when we counted up the number of lines of type and the number of pictures and the number of pages, we found that there was some space left over. Just enough space for the picture of the robbers in the bed. I was just about to go into the army and I had to rush to get the picture finished. You see, I was in a hurry and I forgot to count for just long enough for that robber to get into bed.
I’m glad you like to read my books, and I hope you will continue to keep a close watch for mistakes. Another mistake I make quite often in drawings is buttoning girls’ and boys’ clothes on the wrong sides. I can never remember which way they are supposed to go — it’s much simpler to draw in a zipper.
(Signed) Robert McCloskey