About Barbara Bader

Barbara Bader, a longtime contributor to the Horn Book, is the author of American Picturebooks from Noah’s Ark to the Beast Within. She has written extensively on picture books, folklore, multicultural literature, the history of libraries, and publishing for children. She is being honored in September 2013 by the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Elisabeth Hamilton & Margaret McElderry: Two Approaches, One Passion

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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 […]

Persons of Interest: The Untold Rewards of Picture Book Biographies

Abraham Lincoln

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 […]

Picture Books, Art and Illustration

always room for one more

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 […]

Realms of Gold and Granite

Horn Book Magazine 75th Anniversary cover

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 […]

Z Is for Elastic: The Amazing Stretch of Paul Zelinsky

Paul O. Zelinsky

What would Margaret Wise Brown have been without Clement Hurd? There’d have been no Goodnight Moon. What would Ruth Krauss have been without Maurice Sendak or Crockett Johnson or Marc Simont? There’d have been no Hole Is to Dig or Carrot Seed or Happy Day. Some of the most original, imaginative picture book scripts have […]

Review of One Times Square

one times square

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, […]

American Picture Books from Max’s Metaphorical Monsters to Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

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, […]

Absorbing Pictures and What They Say

Picture Book Month at the Horn Book

“It’s language that’s intellectual,” notes Michael Hazanavicius, director of the 2012 Academy Award-winning silent film The Artist. “Images are about feelings.” Different images, different feelings. Distinct images, distinct feelings. A closed door is a mystery. What’s inside? Who will come out? One house sits prettily in a garden, set apart — vines curving up in […]

Cleveland and Pittsburgh Create a Profession

William Howard Brett

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 […]

Nonfiction: What’s Really New and Different — and What Isn’t

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.