Ursula Nordstrom, editorial director of Harper's Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940 to 1973 and a formidable creative force in 20th-century children's book publishing, was responsible for polishing and shepherding countless dog-eared classics from Where the Wild Things Are to Charlotte's Web to Harriet the Spy. One of the most remarkable things about this extraordinary woman was her prolific correspondence with her cherished team of children's book authors and illustrators, all of whom she liked to call "Genius." Fortunately, many of her letters--warm, witty, temperamental, flattering, extravagant, self-deprecating, sympathetic, and always human--have been culled from HarperCollins's archives, gathered from many generous individuals, and arranged in chronological order by the noted biographer and critic Leonard S. Marcus. The result is Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, complete with black-and-white photographs, extensive footnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
In this fascinating behind-the-scenes look at children's book publishing, letters to Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, Laura Ingalls Wilder, John Steptoe, and Kay Thompson reveal a woman on an unorthodox quest to wrench children's literature from the stultifying clutches of sentimental illusion and false piety. Her dedication to creative, honest, original, non-condescending books for children changed the landscape of children's literature forever. As Marcus writes in his introduction, "...her letters have much to tell about the arts of writing, illustrating, and editing; the social history of the twentieth century; and the pivotal role that books, and a love of books, can play in children's lives. To read the letters is to receive a many-faceted education from a teacher of rare insight, good humor, and lively humanity. I am glad that readers will now be able to share in the experience." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Although her name may not mean much to the general populace, few adults have influenced the lives of children as deeply as has Ursula Nordstrom. As the editor of Where the Wild Things Are, Charlotte's Web and Goodnight Moon, she instilled in generations of readers a love of books and imagination. Here Marcus (Awakened by the Moon) takes readers behind the scenes to view the inner workings of the creative process. Like A. Scott Berg's biography Maxwell Perkins: Editor of Genius, this meticulously researched collection offers the lay reader a rare view of the writers and artists who have largely defined American children's literature, and the woman who helped shape it. Although he has the deepest respect for his subject, Marcus is not awestruck and includes letters that show her more human side (e.g., in a letter to writer Janice May Udry, she says "I may have tried to have you understand that I am surrounded by moon-flowers. That is balderdash, dear... I am a real mess.") For the modern minions of corporate publishing, Marcus also offers evidence that Nordstrom, the first woman vice-president to head a Harper publishing division, also struggled to keep her books above the bottom line (e.g., from a letter to Robert Lipsyte, "I am going to stop going to a lot of budget meetings, sessions about inventory revaluation?and this summer will become an editor again"). An epistolary history of some of the highlights of children's literature, this extraordinary volume speaks to anyone who loves words, books or children. Photographs not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I stumbled upon the existence of this book at an exhibition of illustrations of Maurice Sendak. Ursula Nordstrom was his editor and she is credited with transforming children's... Read morePublished 19 months ago by kayakwoman
To know of Ursula Nordstrom is to long for an editor worth writing. Nordstrom, the director of Harper's Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940-1973, is responsible for... Read morePublished on July 3, 2013 by ellestar27
Anyone who writes or loves children's books should own this book of letters from Ursula Nordstrom, long-time editor at Harper Collins, to her authors. Read morePublished on August 6, 2007 by Deborah Freedman
A must read for any writer or lover of children's books, Dear Genius gives remarkable insight into the mind and career of Ursula Nordstrom, long-time director of Harper's... Read morePublished on February 4, 2001 by Meredith W.