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

by Michelle Markel

Back in 1726, a child would be hard-pressed to find a book that wasn’t meant... read more

Back in 1726, a child would be hard-pressed to find a book that wasn’t meant to teach or moralize. When he became a publisher, John Newbery recognized this dreadful lack of light-hearted stories for children and set out to remedy the problem. He opened a store in bustling London and promptly compiled a book of games, rhymes, pictures, ABCs, and proverbs (which came with a bonus ball or pincushion for two pence extra). Witnessing the book’s great success, Newbery went on to publish a magazine and even a wildly popular novel, The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, all for children. These publications were written anonymously, although “everyone knew who” was really behind them. The playful, enthusiastic narrative of this picture book biography is accompanied by delightfully exaggerated drawings of hordes of children who transform from miserable, weeping students with dull primers to joyful readers happily clutching stacks of books. (Ages 7-10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2018

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