This rollicking and fascinating picture book biography chronicles the life of the first pioneer of children's books—John Newbery himself. While most children's books in the 18th century contained lessons and rules, John Newbery imagined them overflowing with entertaining stories, science, and games. He believed that every book should be made for the reader's enjoyment. Newbery—for whom the prestigious Newbery Medal is named—became a celebrated author and publisher, changing the world of children's books forever. This book about his life and legacy is as full of energy and delight as any young reader could wish.
"Lucky, lucky reader. Be glad it's not 1726," begins this effervescent tribute to publisher John Newbery. Back then, writes Markel (Hillary Rodham Clinton), children read "preachy poems and fables," but Newbery strove to publish exciting children's stories, a prospect that frightened parents: "Many mums and dads worried that if their little nippers read fun books, they'd turn wild as beasts!" In graceful pen-and-ink illustrations, Carpenter (Dear Mr. President) captures a bustling London, as children tear through the streets with piles of Newbery's books ("The children gobbled them up like plum cakes"); at one point Newbery himself makes a cameo in his "smash hit," The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes. Weathered-looking typography offers a visual nod to the printing theme, and Markel's enthusiastic narration pays its own homage to Newbery's belief that children should have "delightful books of their own." Ages 5 8. Author's agent: Anna Olswanger, Olswanger Literary.