BOOKS IN SEARCH OF CHILDREN by Louise Seaman Bechtel


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That bent toward 'the best of the best'--invested with enthusiasm, enterprise, intelligence--shared by such as Anne Carroll Moore and Caroline Hewins, Bertha Mahony Miller and Anne Thaxter Eaton, is at the core of this collection of speeches and essays, making it a companion to theirs. And a complement: Mrs. Bechtel was the founding head of the first children's book department in the U.S. (Macmillan, 1919), whence come confidences on publishing and remembrances of authors and illustrators; she was also a long-time editor/reviewer for the Horn Book and the New York Herald Tribune, source of reviews better called critical essays (see especially the prescient pieces on Gertrude Stein's The World Is Round and Helen Plotz' Imagination's Other Place). But for candor and discernment nothing (almost anywhere) matches ""The Jury Reports,"" a book-by-book, publisher-by-publisher appraisal of the first AIGA Show of Children's Books (1937-1941). The presentation of some of these papers was an Occasion (e.g. the titular Bowker Memorial Lecture); to the current reader they appear both as landmarks--look where we've been--and road signs--where are we going? (Sometimes it seems that we haven't gotten very far--whole paragraphs of the 1927 ""Giant in Children,"" listing needs and proposing remedies, could be repeated verbatim today.) Whether for looking backward or just looking, a very suggestive assemblage.

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1969
Publisher: Macmillan