Sunday, September 7, 2008

Must read

Yes, you must read Leonard Marcus' Minders of Make-Believe if you want a meticulously researched book on the history and shaping of children's literature in America from Colonial days til now. I heard Leonard Marcus speak for the first time at SCBWI in LA and I was hooked. He's amazingly smart, and that really great combination of lover of children's lit and first rate historian. If you want the "dish" about the publishing houses and editors and you want it in historical context, then this is the book for you. I've also now read (most of) Marcus' Golden Legacy, which recounts the history of Golden Books (just the pictures alone will send you on a nostalgic journey) and his The Wand in the Word, which is interviews with fantasy writers. But Minders of Make-Believe has been my favorite so far. If you think of names like McElderry as only the name of an imprint, pick it up and find out about Harcourt's actual Margaret K. McElderry. Find out about who liked whom. Who fired whom. Who thought certains books would be good or bad ideas. And of course, the industry changes sparked by Harry Potter which, among other things, Marcus reminds us, sparked the creation of a separate NY Times bestseller list for children's books only designed as Marcus puts it, "in an effort to make the world safe for Danielle Steel and Tom Clancy." He follows that up with Harold Bloom's snarky opinion about HP and Bloom's request that readers shun the book!

A good read. Try it.

Til next time...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recommendation! The boy has an entire shelf of well-loved and (mostly) well-preserved Little Golden Books that are going on 30 years old. They are so wonderful. I remember when my mother would buy them for me at the grocery store.

Such a warm and fuzzy way to start off the week. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.


Anonymous said...

You know, I'd never given Golden Books much thought except to say that I loved them as a kid and that we still have our own stack, some of which were mine. Who knew that there were certain illustrators used over and over, that there was indeed a certain "look" they were going for, a certain tone, etc. and that that did change some over the years. And that the current editor has brought back certain titles! Cool!