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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Celebrating Children's Books, edited by Betsy Hearne and Marilyn Kaye

This book includes essays by authors, artists, critics, editors, and publishers of children's books. Given the great number of different authors, the writing covers a wide range of styles, some very gripping, some enlightening, and some, frankly, boring. It tackles such topics as imagination, realism, the grammar of story, the standards for critiquing scientific works, how to select a reviewer, and the role of librarians in putting the right book in the right hands.

I would recommend it to anyone interested in children's books, or in gaining a backstage view of the publishing industry. But then, I love reading books about books, and especially books about children's books.

Some favorite passages:

"Indeed, one of the purposes in presenting the past is to develop the watcher in children, for the living of life and the watching of life are bound by one cord...And I want them to be exposed to those specific and unforgettable bits of information and snatches of anecdote that cling to memory like barnacles, part and parcel forever of the momentous occasions, the tragedies, the shocks that each generation suffers." Jean Fritz

"Young as Alex is, already he has learned to detest history. The only history he has been taught is obviously not very good history: dates and boring facts--littering the textbook, dirtying the blackboard, befouling the wall charts; and on the quizzes the unrelenting demand for the names of presidents and battles...{Learning history} 'is a step aside from self, a step out of the child's self-preoccupation, and therefore, a step toward maturity'...To have a sense of history is to have a sense of one's own humanity, and without that, we are nothing...In totalitarian countries, governments amputate the collective memory." Milton Meltzer

"...many science programs reinforce the notion that doing science means memorizing facts, jargon, and numbers that seem irrelevant to everyday life. As a result, the public feels that science is much too complex for ordinary folks, and that it is a source of final, absolute answers rather than a continual search for truth." Laurence Pringle

At any rate, I have now put off that ironing pile yet again.

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