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Mausoleum Madness, or, Children’s Books Six Feet Under

Some months ago I went to the Boston Public Library’s rare book room to view their display of fine first editions by nineteenth-century American authors. Of course they had lovely examples of Thoreau, Alcott, Dickinson, Emerson, and Whitman, and I slowly took the time to read the helpful notations the research librarians had supplied. One […]

What Makes a Good Space Book?

The vastness of the universe, explored and unexplored, presents possibilities for all of us to imagine new and different (and perhaps better) worlds, technological feats, and ourselves as active participants in the quest for knowledge beyond our own planet. A good space book captures this melding of anticipation and discovery that lies at the heart […]

The Sign on Sendak’s Door

Although grateful for the support of publishers who place advertisements in The Horn Book, I’ve never before felt the need to direct you to such from this page. But I do so now: please go and read the advertisement on page 57 and then come back here. I’ll wait. Imagine a picture book world where […]

Horn Book Magazine — November/December 2011

Table of Contents     Features Mo Willems 11 Why Books? An adaptation of the author’s 2011 Zena Sutherland Lecture. Jack Gantos 18 Mausoleum Madness Or, children’s books six feet under. Barbara Bader 41 Nonfiction: What’s Really New and Different—and What Isn’t A response to The Horn Book’s special issue on nonfiction. Ron Koertge 48 […]

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.

Holiday High Notes 2011

May your days be merry and bright…and may you enjoy our selection of new holiday books, with reviews written by the Horn Book staff.

Lunacy

Mother Goose waddled to the window. Ah, there was the moon, perfect and round, its light streaming into bedrooms everywhere. She sighed.Mother Goose was upset. How could parents say that…word, that awful word, to their children? How could they use it in front of innocent little darlings almost fast asleep? Their drowsy eyes. Well-washed hands […]

Review of Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

At Macy’s department store, marionette maker Tony Sarg started inside and worked his way out. He designed mechanical storybook figures for Macy’s window displays before inventing the giant balloon characters that would become the signature feature of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Sweet’s whimsical mixed-media collages, embellished with little dolls she made herself out of odds and ends, reinforce the theme that, for Sarg, work was play. He loved his job just as much as the cheering crowds loved his balloons (one of Sweet’s watercolor illustrations shows open-mouthed children fairly dancing with delight).

Why Books? — The Zena Sutherland Lecture

It is an honor to have been asked to talk about books while they still exist. (Spoiler alert: next year’s Sutherland lecturer will be a downloadable app.)

And that, my friends, is the key to my current two-word existential dilemma: “Why books?”

In the past it was enough to say that if you get a book into a kid’s hands, you’re creating a “lifelong reader.” But why does that matter? Do we really want “lifelong readers”? Shouldn’t they at least get to take occasional bathroom breaks? Why is this extraneous question here in the middle of these other ones? And, what does reading do that makes it so special?

Review of Zombie Mommy

Mrs. Gefelty, Lily’s mom — worried now that Lily has begun appearing as a book character along with her longtime adventure-series-hero friends Jasper Dash and Katie — has figured out the perfect solution to her metafictive problem. Having noticed that mothers in children’s novels tend to die or disappear, she’s decided to retreat to a safe haven — only it’s not quite as safe as she thinks…