A well-documented, thorough history.

MINDERS OF MAKE-BELIEVE

IDEALISTS, ENTREPRENEURS, AND THE SHAPING OF AMERICAN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

Who really decides what American children read? Children’s book historian and critic Marcus (A Caldecott Celebration: Seven Artists and their Paths to the Caldecott Medal, 2008, etc.) answers this question by deftly tracing the evolution of American children’s literature from colonial primers to Harry Potter.

The author approaches the story from the little-known perspective of the publishers, librarians, critics, educators and booksellers who shaped the genre over three centuries. Beginning with American publisher Isaiah Thomas, who in 1779 offered American children pirated copies of London bookseller John Newbery’s toy books, Marcus shows the gradual shift from didactic, moralistic texts to illustrated books that entertained as well as instructed. He tracks the 19th-century emergence of entrepreneurial publishers in Boston and New York who recognized the potential kid-lit market in Jacob Abbott’s popular Rollo series and Samuel Goodrich’s Peter Parley tales. He chronicles the post–Civil War competition among children’s magazines like Our Young Folks, Riverside Magazine for Young People and St. Nicholas, which led to publication of high-quality stories and illustrations from the best authors and artists. Marcus provides an in-depth look at the impact of powerful children’s librarians like Anne Carroll Moore, such creative female editors as May Massee and Louise Seaman Bechtel, and emerging critics like Horn Book founder Bertha Mahony Miller. He explores the effects of Children’s Book Week, the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott prizes and the increased mass-marketing of popular culture in comic books, Golden Books, Disney spinoffs and series like Nancy Drew. Marcus notes the rise of multiculturalism, new realism, overseas printing, independent bookshops and single-editor imprints as evidence of the profound social and technological changes in late 20th-century America and astutely parallels trends in children’s books with movements in the larger culture. Throughout he features insightful anecdotes about such luminaries as Mary Mapes Dodge, Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Wise Brown, Robert McCloskey, Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), E.B. White, Ursula Nordstrom, Maurice Sendak, Margaret McElderry, Robert Cormier and John Steptoe.

A well-documented, thorough history.

Pub Date: May 7, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-395-67407-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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