In 1919, when Louise Seaman Bechtel became the nation’s first children’s book editor, at Macmillan, her customers-in-waiting were chiefly children’s librarians. One specialty had bred another; now, one editor would follow another. Many of those new children’s book editors came from the ranks of children’s librarians. The story of two of them, the first two […]
It didn’t exactly have to happen. In 1936, Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, treasured for their radiant portrayals of child life in Ingri’s native Norway, took up George Washington, and with the wide eyes of new Americans and the same sensitivity to their child audience, struck a chord. Other d’Aulaire picture book biographies of American […]
From Newbery and Caldecott Medal Books, 1966-1975 edited by Lee Kingman, published by The Horn Book, 1975 Ten years, ten books. Ten books that, one by one, have been put forth as the best of the year’s picture books, by inference the best that America could produce. This is the burden of the Newbery and […]
The Bookshop for Boys and Girls was born, in a twelvemonth, with a pedigree and a distinguished list of patrons. Its role was largely determined from the outset. But life, real life, is also a string of accidents. Bertha Mahony was thirty-three and restless after ten years as a good right-hand at Boston’s Women’s Educational […]
One Times Square: A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World by Joe McKendry; illus. by the author Intermediate Godine 64 pp. 9/12 978-1-56792-364-3 $19.95 You are there at the birth, the decay, and the revival of Times Square, the “crossroads of the world” for a century. McKendry (Beneath the Streets of Boston, […]
In the course of the last thirty years or so, American picture books have become a mainstay of American life — and items of merchandise — without altogether extinguishing the individual creative voice. They have also ceased to be, in any defining way, American. Until very recently, children in Western societies teethed on nursery rhymes, […]
The sight of a ‘children’s room’ in a public library just after school hours is enchanting…they pour into its doors, the crowd of children, well-dressed, poorly clad, boys, girls, big, small, all with an assured air of welcome, comfortably, easily, happily at home among bookshelves as they are in no other spot. Thirty years ago […]
In the age of preschool princesses and teenage werewolves, nonfiction, conspicuously, has class. That came across buoyantly in the March/April 2011 issue of the Horn Book, where prominent persons in the field wrote about their work and what today’s nonfiction aspires to.
Their aims are admirable, their commitment is impressive, their enthusiasm is infectious; as a cadre, they have a lot to be proud of. But not because their work, however fine, surpasses the work of their predecessors. It isn’t better researched or better illustrated, as some of the contributors suggest, and it certainly isn’t more venturesome. In kids’ nonfiction, “going where no adult book has gone before” is nothing new.