Book review: Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books, by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Markel, Michelle. Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books. Illus. by Nancy Carpenter. Chronicle Books, 2017. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-0-8118-7922-4. Ages 6-9. P5Q6

The inclusion of large fonts, bold face, and quotation marks are used to highlight the life and career of John Newbery who published more enjoyable books for children during the 18th century. His determination and success led to the naming of the famous Newbery award for U.S. books after him.

Verdict: The digital use to color in the pen and ink drawings gives the illustration a flat and pale feeling, the use of archaic terms such as quoins and chases, British slang such as “brilliant,” and the use of English money such as pence may be off-putting to young readers. The book may be more useful for teachers dealing with the history of books for children.

March 2017 review by Nel Ward.

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