We’ve always known how to pick ‘em

hobbit 198x300 Weve always known how to pick emLolly and trusty interns Kiona and Marisa have uploaded the complete Horn Book Fanfare, our choices from 1938 to the present for the best in books for youth published each year. I hadn’t known that on the very first list was The Hobbit, a book the Horn Book was very excited about. It was reviewed by Anne T. Eaton; Bertha gave it a full editorial; and the first chapter was excerpted, ending with “Just before tea-time there came a tremendous ring on the front-door bell. . . .” Anne Carroll Moore got it into four of her Three Owls’ Notebooks, at one point writing “A rich book, and a rare, and a book to share, is The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, who sadly enough is professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, which means that he may never find time to write another children’s book.”

Incidentally, A.C.M. closed her November column of 1938 with a reproof I like: “May we no longer indulge in blind publishing of pretty-pretty, half-baked, or poorly edited books for children. They do not fit the times in which we live. We confidently hope to see a reduction in number and a measurable improvement in quality of children’s books published in 1939.” How many times can we say this?

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Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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