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Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children's Books Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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"A delightful romp for all>"--Common Sense Media
"This delightful book gives us perspective about a relevant part of history, kids' books."--Imagination Soup
"Effervescent."-Publishers Weekly, starred review
About the Author
Michelle Markel writes informative, enjoyable children's books at her home in Los Angeles.
Nancy Carpenter has illustrated over 30 books for children. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.
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Top Customer Reviews
The illustrations in this book are also impeccable, just the kind we love with so much going on and so much to discover in each scene. My daughter and I enjoyed the street scenes early in the book that showed people from many walks of life reading. We hunted for the children in the scenes who looked sad and bored presumably because they did not have a book in their hands! Fun!
Also the title of the book was a new word for my daughter and she enjoyed shouting it like the children in the story! Balderdash is shouted in response to the idea that reading books would turn children into wild beasts!
I also enjoyed learning that the phrase "goody two-shoes" originated from Newbery's first novel published for children. The novel and its plot are mentioned in the story but in the end pages of the book we learn even more about the phrase "goody two-shoes." The little girl was an orphan with only one shoe. A kind person gave her new shoes and she went about showing everyone she met her two shoes. Then through "study, hard work, and kindness" she betters her situation and ends up falling in love and marrying a rich squire. Interesting. Of course, times have changed so rising in society by hard work so you can marry a rich man does not quite resonant the way it did in 1765! Still interesting to learn the origin of that phrase.
Altogether we were quite taken with the history book! Beautiful, engaging, educational, and fun! Yeah!
Markel has captured the feel of the creativity and wildness of someone who decided to make a major change in the world. The text here is celebratory of the new discoveries and new chances being taken in books. Markel points out all of the positives about Newbery’s book and avoids noting that his books don’t bear any resemblance to children’s books of today. Rather, the focus is on the invention, the cleverness of the marketing and the popularity of children’s books from the very beginning.
Carpenter’s illustrations are filled with pizzazz. They have a great energy about them, depicting the bustling streets of London, the desirability of the books, and even showing sad children with real humor. She uses slightly turned pages to show other images underneath along with speech bubbles. The text of the book is also playful, moving through different fonts and text sizes for emphasis.
A glimpse of the earliest children’s books, this historical picture book biography is a pleasure just as Newbery’s were. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Newbery’s life and the influence he had is told, fittingly, in a picture book by Michelle Markel called Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books. The cover sets the tone for the story, with an aproned Newberry holding an open book surrounded by cheering children, many also holding books.
The tone throughout the book is playful and irreverent, which is how many in Newbery’s time saw him. But children loved the books he published, which were small and pretty. Some even came with a toy. It is believed that Newbery wrote many of the titles he published, but the author was officially anonymous.
Balderdash! ends with a short bio of the man, more about the books he published, and references for further reading. Book lovers of all ages will enjoy reading about this man who is so important to the emergence of good literature just for children.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.