Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Published by Chronicle Books

Summary:  Pity the poor children growing up in early eighteenth century England.  Although there were plenty of books around for adults, kids only got preachy poems, sermons, and books of rules about manners and such.  Fortunately for them, a young printer named John Newbery thought they deserved better.  The fact that his books were entitled A Little Pretty Pocket-Book and The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes and became overnight bestsellers demonstrates what a deplorable condition children’s literature was in at that time.  John continued to work throughout his career to produce popular books for kids, and we remember him every January when the Newbery Medal is awarded to the book that has made “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”.  An author’s note gives additional biographical information.  44 pages; grades K-4.

Pros:  A lighthearted look at the life of a man whose name many librarians and teachers know, but whose life we are less familiar with.  Readers will appreciate the wealth of children’s literature that has grown since Mr. Newbery’s time.

Cons:  The subject may be of greater interest to adults than to kids.

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