Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books

Michelle Markel, illus. by Nancy Carpenter. Chronicle, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-8118-7922-4
“Lucky, lucky reader. Be glad it’s not 1726,” begins this effervescent tribute to publisher John Newbery. Back then, writes Markel (Hillary Rodham Clinton), children read “preachy poems and fables,” but Newbery strove to publish exciting children’s stories, a prospect that frightened parents: “Many mums and dads worried that if their little nippers read fun books, they’d turn wild as beasts!” In graceful pen-and-ink illustrations, Carpenter (Dear Mr. President) captures a bustling London, as children tear through the streets with piles of Newbery’s books (“The children gobbled them up like plum cakes”); at one point Newbery himself makes a cameo in his “smash hit,” The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes. Weathered-looking typography offers a visual nod to the printing theme, and Markel’s enthusiastic narration pays its own homage to Newbery’s belief that children should have “delightful books of their own.” Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Anna Olswanger, Olswanger Literary. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2017
Release date: 04/04/2017
Open Ebook - 44 pages - 978-1-4521-3079-8
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