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Those happy golden years

Raymond Bial, well-known author of nonfiction for children (Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty; Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side; Amish Home; Frontier Home), has just published a novel, one “intended primarily for adults,” according to the promotional copy on the back of the (attractive) paperback.

Set in small-town 1959 Indiana and unashamedly nostalgic, it’s aimed at Baby Boomers who remember their own idyllic childhoods: “We rode our bikes everywhere—to the Tastee Freez for ice cream cones, to Pearson’s Grocery for jawbreakers, to the Roscoe Cigar Store & Fountain for cherry Cokes, and to Harold’s Barber Shop with the liars’ bench out front to hear stories about the old days…” But Chigger (Motes, January) is also an involving coming-of-age story, focused on a fifth-grade boy changed forever when an unconventional new girl moves to town and disturbs his protected universe.

So it’s left me wondering: was Bial’s novel published for adults rather than children because of its heavy nostalgia element? Because if that’s the criterion, it would sure as heck clean out a lot of publishers’ children’s lists.

Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.



  1. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    I’m reminded of when Natalie Babbitt wrote an adult book (Herbert Rowbarge) and it was published for kids because her publisher thought that general-population adults would not know who she was, but adults who worked in children’s books might spot it and give the book a shot.

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