Review of The Beatles Were Fab 
(and They Were Funny)

beatles

The Beatles Were Fab 
(and They Were Funny) by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer; illus. by Stacy Innerst Primary     Harcourt     40 pp. 3/13     978-0-547-50991-4      $16.99 Since the early sixties, the Beatles have defined the musical landscape of the world, influencing generations of listeners and musicians. Beatlemania, from its beginning in Liverpool to the band’s final […]

Peter Rabbit and the Tale of a Fierce Bad Publisher

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Originality is everything in literature, as in art. “Originals never lose their value,” Ralph Waldo Emerson said. He may have been referring to Shakespeare and Wordsworth, but the statement is just as true of children’s literature. Of course, even originals owe something to the past — “we all quote,” Emerson acknowledged — but he did […]

Review of Water in the Park

water in the park

Water in the Park: A Book About Water & 
the Times of the Day by Emily Jenkins; 
illus. by Stephanie Graegin Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp. 5/13    978-0-375-87002-6    $16.99 Library ed.  978-0-375-97002-3    $19.99 On a warm day, just before six a.m., a city park starts to stir: turtles laze on rocks by the pond, […]

Middle Grade Saved My Life

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Bad things were done to me when I was small. Lacking adequate physical defenses, I escaped into my imagination, where I could be all-powerful and the scariest monster was the witch in my closet. Imagination expands when exercised; mine grew strong and wily, 
and a pleasure to me, too, when the bad things were in […]

The Amorphous Genre

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

The Common Core State Standards mandate that, by fourth grade, students will read a balanced ratio of fifty percent fiction and fifty percent nonfiction for school reading assignments. As students age, this ratio gradually begins to favor nonfiction until, by twelfth grade, they will be expected to read seventy percent nonfiction and thirty percent fiction. […]

Editorial: Everybody Wants 
to Be a Teenager

roger_right2

I had to chuckle when I first read Jeanne Birdsall’s article (“Middle Grade Saved My Life”) about the attempted land grab by YA of middle-grade books. Not just in recognition, but at how I see this work in sort-of reverse, too: I’ll get calls from writers and publishers of books for adults, asking if their […]

Danger! Dialogue Ahead

Boys of Steel by Marc Tyler Nobleman

When writing nonfiction, including dialogue can be a dangerous proposition. Several years ago, I asked an author about the snappy dialogue in his nonfiction picture book about a poet. He said the words were a combination of excerpts from the poet’s autobiography and some things the author “rather assumed.” The book, he continued, got “whacked […]

Review of Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell High School    St. Martin’s Griffin    328 pp. 2/13    978-1-250-01257-9    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-250-03121-1    $9.99 It’s the start of a new school year in 1986 Omaha when sophomores Eleanor and Park meet for the first time on the bus. They are an unusual pair: she’s the new girl in town, […]

What Makes a Good YA Love Story?

the Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

It’s a simple formula. Boy meets girl (or, more often, girl meets boy. Or, less frequently, boy meets boy or girl meets girl). Boy and girl fall in love. One loses the other, or some other conflict arises. Then comes the happy ending. This plot, or some variation of it, is one we’ve read over […]

Preview May/June 2013 Horn Book Magazine

may2013cover_200x300

Caroline Fraser examines the sordid publishing history of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Foreign Correspondence: Karen Jameyson takes us deep into Jeannie Baker’s process for creating the cross-cultural picture book Mirror. Author Jeanne Birdsall stresses the importance of letting middle grade be middle grade. Jonathan Hunt on the future of connecting kids with nonfiction. Caldecott […]