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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.

Mildred Batchelder: The Power of Thinking Big

batchelder

In brief, the children’s library movement was touched off by Caroline Hewins, at the Hartford Public Library, who passed the torch to Anne Carroll Moore, at the New York Public, and Alice Jordan, at the Boston Public. Bertha Mahony Miller, founding editor of The Horn Book, sought guidance from both of them. Principal allies were […]

For the McKissacks, Black Is Boundless

Carter Woodson would be pleased as punch. The “father of black history” was famously dour, but he was also known to light up at word of some victory for the cause — healthy ticket sales for a Negro History Week event, respectful mention in the press. What would he make, then, of a pair of […]

Krik, Krik, Krik: How Aardema & Co. Attuned Us to African Folklore

why mosquitos buzz

Richard Dorson, the late dean of American folklorists, had a word for folklore that was not authentic, not the voice of the people. He called it fakelore, and to his mind most folklore published for children fell into that category. Dorson and other folklorists didn’t concern themselves with “Cinderella” and the like, stories that had […]

Barbara Cooney

cooney_miss rumphius

Barbara Cooney came late to center stage, after decades as an illustrator admired for her graphic arts skills. But that particular accolade carried an implication, justified or not, of limitation. To succeed in a changing market, to satisfy her own ambitions, Cooney had to transform herself into a different kind of artist — a colorist […]

One Childhood, One World

HBM cover nov 1999

On an evening in November 1930, during Children’s Book Week, Bertha Mahony arranged a festive Mexican Dinner in honor of the authors and illustrators of the season’s bumper crop of books on a Mexican theme. The most imposing, surely, was René d’Harnoncourt, illustrator of The Painted Pig, who was not only a splendid six-foot-six but […]

Realms of Gold and Granite

Horn Book magazine 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 […]

Realms of Gold and Granite

Cover of the Horn Book September 1999 issue

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 […]

Preach and Practice

Illustration @ M. B. Goffstein.

The small, compact figure on the cover, with a book by her side, is and is not a picture of Ethel Heins. It’s unmistakably the work of M. B. Goffstein, from her late period of pastel life-studies, and it comes from a scrapbook of tributes to Heins on her retirement from the helm of the Horn […]