BALDERDASH!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books
written by Michelle Markel
illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
published by Chronicle Books
John Newbery was the pioneer of children’s books and this picture book biography revels in the birth of these books. The reader is told on page one that if they lived in 1726 there were books about adventure and travel and shipwrecks and pirates and monsters – but all of them were for adults. Once John Newbery became a printer and a publisher, he saw a niche and aimed to fill it. He felt that “Reading should be a treat for children” (as a philosopher had said.) Children should be offered more to read than moralistic, preachy tales and religious texts.
Businessman that he was, John Newbery created A LITTLE PRETTY POCKET-BOOK (and offered it for sale with a ball or a pincushion – a merchandising deal.) These creations were illustrated and not as dry as the books forced upon children. Thus began, in a very small way the creation of children’s literature.
But hopefully the reader will not be confused by the fact that these were not the children’s books of today – they were the first toe in the water. By today’s standards they are dry and preachy – but by 1726 standards they were a treat. Also, the reader might get the wrong impression from the illustrations – everyone was not literate nor could they all afford to purchase books. Quibbles aside – this is a fine celebration of John Newbery and the small revolution he started.
The American Library Association established an annual award to honor “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” in 1922 and named it after John Newbery. Next month, at the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago the 2017 Newbery Award will be presented to Kelly Regan Barnhill for THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON.
There are brief notes and a bibiography at the end.
Jean Fritz, an award-winning writer whose books helped change children’s biographies from dry works of dates and facts to quirky stories that made the person seem real, died on Sunday, May 14, 2017 at her home in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. She was 101.
Mrs. Fritz was the author of nearly 50 books, many were biographies of characters in early American history – and were written as the buildup for America’s Bicentennial was seizing the country. These included: And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? (1973); Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? (1974); and Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May? (1975); Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? (1976); Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? (1977); and Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution (1987).
The reader of her biographies will find little known but interesting facts that Mrs. Fritz discovered while researching: one small example, Paul Revere discovered he had forgotten his spurs and dispatched his dog to fetch them (something not mentioned in Longfellow’s poem about that famous ride.)
Mrs. Fritz was born in China to missionary parents, and she wrote a memoir of her childhood in China. The book Homesick: My Own Story won a National Book Award and was named a Newbery Honor Book. She was the recipient of many other awards and honors including the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, awarded by the American Library Association for a distinguished body of work in children’s literature, and the National Humanities Medal, presented in 2003 by President George W. Bush.
Her books were illustrated by Ed Young, Trina Schart Hyman, and Tomie DePaola – to name a few of the illustrious illustrators of children’s books that graced her covers.
In 1988, she was interviewed by The Christian Science Monitor and explained her interest in bringing history alive for children: “I got so frustrated with having to fix up fictional plots that I was glad to finally get away from all that, and just tell things the way they happened — which often is a lot stranger than anything anyone could make up!”
Jean Fritz made larger than life figures more human with wit and humor. She made a great contribution to children’s literature. She was a giant in the field.
Born in 1927, Roger Moore grew up in London and quickly turned towards acting. As a teen, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art along with Lois Maxwell, the original Miss Moneypenny. This significance of this chance encounter would not be evident for another thirty years. At the age of 18, Moore was conscripted into military service.
In the early 1950s, Moore worked as a model and eventually landed a contract with MGM where he had minor roles. In the late 1950s, he worked for Warner Brothers where he continued his streak of minor roles, but this time for television. In 1958, he won the role of Sir Walter Scott in the television series Ivanhoe. This was followed by a lead role in the 1959 television series The Alaskans. He then had a recurring role in the television series Maverick, which led him to his breakout role as Simon Templar.
From 1962 to 1969, Roger Moore was Simon Templar. Simon Templar was a character from a series of books by Leslie Charteris who was the creator of The Saint. It was obvious to many, that Roger Moore was destined to play the role of a super spy and was offered the role of James Bond twice during that time.
In 1973, Roger Moore lit up the silver screen in Live and Let Die co-starring Jane Seymour who played a very young and impressionable fortune teller. In 1974, Roger Moore fought against villain Christopher Lee, in The Man with the Golden Gun. This was followed by The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 and the space-caper, Moonraker in 1979. Moore continued his Bond romp with For Your Eyes Only in 1981. In 1983, Bond snuck onto the women only island in the body of hollowed out fake crocodile in Octopussy. Moore’s final foray into the Bond franchise pitted him against Christopher Walken and Grace Jones in 1985’s A View to a Kill. Roger Moore was Bond for 12 years, longer than any other actor to date.
Love him or hate him, Roger Moore brought a certain comedy to James Bond. His one-liners, fraught with sexual innuendo, diminished the seriousness of the character according to some. For others, it became as much of a part of the character as Q’s gadgets.
Moore’s post Bond roles were abundant, but surely not as memorable as either of his spy personas. He wore a tuxedo better than any other.
Among the many honors Moore received, some for humanitarian efforts, some for his acting, Moore was knighted in 2003 in honor of his charity work.
Sir Roger Moore, we will miss you!
Then how about a nightcap on the company? My company.
-James Bond The Spy Who Loved Me
Sir Roger Moore b. October 14, 1929 d. May 23, 2017