Friday, April 27, 2007



Last week Candlewick Press invited the NCBLA Board to its Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters to get a sneak preview of the design and layout of the NCBLA's upcoming anthology on American History-
Through White House Windows: Looking In, Looking Out.

The Board's reaction,"WOW!"

The Candlewick Looking In, Looking Out editorial team- Karen Lotz, Hilary Van Dusen, Kate Fletcher, and art director Chris Paul presented beautiful color layouts and initial illustrations for the book that are warmly elegant, attractive to both child and adult alike.

Through White House Windows: Looking In, Looking Out will give families a delicious taste of American History. It is the NCBLA deepest wish that our anthology of history, historical fiction, poetry, and original art will inspire both children and adults to read more about the White House, its occupants, and the major events that have shaped our nation since the late 1700's when slaves dug the White House foundation, and immigrants carved its stone walls.

Through White House Windows: Looking In, Looking Out will be available in stores and libraries in Fall of 2008- just in time for the 2008 Presidential Election! All proceeds from the book will go to support the educational website, and educational and advocacy projects of the NCBLA, a 501-c3 not-for-profit.

For information about the NCBLA and the NCBLA Board go to:
a Tete-a-tete!

Had an interesting conversation with Leonard Marcus this week. It is, of course impossible not to have an interesting conversation with Leonard! We first talked Red Sox vs. Yankees. He and his son Jacob are intense Yankee fans, but have to know in their heart of hearts that the Yankees are going down this year; the Red Sox are going to kill them, every time, no question.

Leonard, who will be receiving an honorary doctorate of letters from Bank Street College of Education this May, is contributing a piece on Teddy Roosevelt’s boisterous gang of children to the NCBLA’s upcoming Fall 2008 book, Through White House Windows; Looking In, Looking Out.

When I need some out-of-the-box thinking relating children’s books and needs to the broader world, Leonard is one of my go-to guys. The NCBLA’s is working with ALA and The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress to create a summit, Democracy @ Risk, on informed citizenship linking literacy, critical thinking, and free unfettered information access to responsible citizenship in a democracy. Leonard suggested that I find the editorials of Frederic Melcher, an editor at Publisher Weekly’s in the 1950's and 60's. Melcher not only created the Caldecott and Newbery Awards, he originated Children’s Book Week- that’s major league advocacy!

Leonard said Melcher strongly believed that literacy was the key to preserving democracy; that children’s books were the key to fostering literacy. And what is more, these expressed beliefs and actions had all the more impact at the time because Melcher was: A. male; and B. a professional from the world of adult publishing.

Melcher sounds like a marketing genius. He was able to grab national attention because his children’s book advocacy and public relations campaign was highly coordinated bringing many factions of the children’s book and publishing world together in a united force. It brings to mind the superb campaign of the environmental community who, working together in an orchestrated effort have not only captured our attention and educated our nation, but have inspired people to action. The children’s book and literacy community does not do that. Events and celebrations of children’s books and literacy happen sporadically all over the calendar, garnering little national attention. The NCBLA has long advocated that the children’s book and literacy community work together sharing ideas, resources, and yes, revenue, to build an impressive national education and advocacy campaign for children, books, and reading. It will take a huge sustained effort to grab the nation’s attention. And with literacy rates dropping, and reading rates dropping, too, we are in desperate need of an united educational effort.

Off the soapbox and back to Leonard! Leonard has a number of books out of interest to parents, teachers, and children’s literature aficionados including his latest: Pass It Down: Five Picture-Book Families Make Their Mark was just published by Walker Books for Young Readers. This is a book for middle-grade children, their teachers, librarians. The creative families profiled include: the Pinkneys, Hurds, Rockwells, Myerses, and Crewses.

His illustrated history of Golden Books is called Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way. It will be published by Random House in October. A companion illustration exhibition, also called Golden Legacy, featuring original art from classic Golden books by Garth Williams, the Provensens, Tibor Gergely, Feodor Rojankovsky, Gustaf Tenggren, Mary Blair, Richard Scarry, and others, will open at the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature in Abilene, TX in early November and then go out on tour nationally.

And last, but not least, Children Should Be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture-Book Art, of which Leonard is the lead curator, will be The Eric Carle Museum's (Northhampton , MA) fifth-anniversary exhibition. It is co-sponsored by The Katonah Museum of Art (Katonah, NY), where it will open (first) on July 1, 2007, before traveling to the Carle Museum, on November 15, and then continuing on to The Getty Gallery of the Los Angeles Public Library in 2008.

Learn more about:
Leonard Marcus and his work-

The National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature in Abilene, TX-

The Eric Carle Museum in Northhampton, MA-

The Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, NY-

The Getty Gallery, the Los Angeles Public Library in Los Angeles, CA-
Parents &Teachers
of Young Children!

Check Out Maria Salvadore’s Excellent Children’s Book Blog!

Maria Salvadore, children’s librarian and experienced mom, and NCBLA advisor, writes an enlightening, informative, and entertaining blog---Page by Page---- chock full of reading ideas and great book recommendations for the Reading Rockets website. After you’ve checked Maria’s blog, take some time and explore the entire Reading Rockets site for gobs of helpful information to help you connect your children to great books.

And see what you think of Chris Raschka's colorful portrait of Maria, Queen of the Page by Page Blog!

Go to:

Monday, April 23, 2007

David Halberstam
(April 10, 1934- April 23, 2007)

From His University of MichiganSpring Commencement
Main Address April 29, 2000:

"I would like you to think of this great university and the degree you receive today as representing a hope in the as yet unborn. And I hope you will remember this when you become older and are faced with questions of education and public policy and validating for others a comparably great education as the one you have received, an education which will perhaps be bestowed on the children of people whom you do not know and who are perhaps newer to America than you, and whose immigrant parents come from places that seem terribly alien to you. By saying a hope in the unborn, that I refer to the decisions of which you are the beneficiaries, decisions made much earlier in this century by the part of the architects of this school and others, that it should have a faculty second to none, and that it should be open for the children of people whom they would never know. They were quite practical men—they assumed that there would be an immense economic benefit to educating as many people as high a level as possible--and they believed as well, for there is an idealism built into their concept, that it elevated every one in the process—in fact that it ennobled those who were a part of it. And that it does. Just look around you.

For it is critical to something which we now almost take for granted, the ascent to the good life in this country, and it critical to something that I believe still sets apart from other societies, a belief that for all our flaws and failures, and myriad short comings, that we in America more than any other society, give ordinary citizens a chance to reach their fullest potential."
Family Field Trip:
Plan a Visit to the Eric Carle Museum This Summer

Great picture books introduce children of all ages to world of art. The Eric Carle Museum, a warm welcoming building looking out over an orchard in western Massachusetts, allows kids and adults to take a closer look at children's book art- an create art themselves!

The current exhibits showcase great African-American illustrators. Upcoming exhibits feature the work of Eric Carle, Leo Lionni, and Allen Say.

Richard Yarde: Stompin at the Savoy.
December 22, 2006 - April 29, 2007

Picture Stories: A Celebration of African American Illustrators.
March 24 - June 17, 2007

Birds of a Feather: The Art of Eric Carle and Leo Lionni.
May 11 - December 9, 2007

The Art of Allen Say: A Sense of Place.
July 3 - October 28, 2007

For directions to the museum and other information go to:
In Case You Missed It:
Joanna Rudge Long Book Review in
Last Sunday's New York Times Book Review

I am still thinking, a week later, about Joanna Rudge Long's book review in the April 15, 2007 New York Times Book Review, and not because of the books she reviewed.

As a literacy advocate I constantly encounter parents and teachers looking for great books for kids, and the majority of parents and teachers I work with have very little knowledge of children's books, or of the history of children's literature. And these parents and teachers are not only from our neediest neighborhoods and schools but are also from middle class communities where the vast majority of adults are college educated.

In a few paragraphs Joanna Rudge Long introduced quality new books for children, giving those books a context historically, educating the reader about children's literature. She posed questions that all of us who care about children should ponder, especially young parents:

Do children still know how to play?
If imagination transforms, how do we nurture imagination?
What kind of story draws children back again and again, serving as a magical catalyst to imaginative play and thought?

And who can resist a review that quotes Dylan Thomas?
The Children of Húrin-
"New" Work of Tolkien Fiction

The Children of Hurin was pieced together by J.R's son Christopher Tolkien from his fahter's old manuscripts. Reportedly it is a darker Tolkien, in a pre-Frodo world. For the most part it is getting good reviews. Read more:,8599,1611448,00.html
Great Expectations or Bleak House:
Should Dickens Disney-fied?

A Charles Dickens inspired theme park is opening Kent, England in mid-May complete with pickpockets and saucy wenches.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

NCBLA Board Member Natalie Babbitt interviewed in Publisher's Weekly!

Check out the interview at:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech-
Winter Will Give Way to Spring

There's A Certain Slant of Light
Emily Dickinson

There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
‘Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ‘t is like the distance
On the look of death.

Love Lives Beyond the Tomb
John Clare
Love lives beyond
The tomb, the earth, which fades like dew-
I love the fond,
The faithful, and the true.

Love lies in sleep,
The happiness of healthy dreams,
Eve's dews may weep,
But love delightful seems.

'Tis seen in flowers,
And in the even's pearly dew
In earth's green hours,
And in the heaven's eternal blue.

'Tis heard in spring
When light and sunbeams, warm and kind,
On angel's wing
Bring love and music to the wind.

And where is voice,
So young, so beautiful, and sweet
As nature's choice,
Where spring and lovers meet?

Love lives beyond
The tomb,the earth, which fades like dew.
I love the fond,
The faithful, young, and true.

Once More,the Round
Theodore Roethke

What's greater, Pebble or Pond?
What can be known? The Unknown.
My true self runs toward a Hill
More! O More! visible.

Now I adore my life
With the Bird, the abiding Leaf,
With the Fish, the questing Snail,
And the Eye altering all;
And I dance with William Blake
For love, for Love's sake;

And everything comes to One,
As we dance on, dance on, dance on.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Five Big Ways to Help Kids Love Books

NCBLA president and executive director Mary Brigid Barrett was recently interviewed by Amy Maclin of Wondertime Magazine for its website at You can access the article on parenting advise -“Five Big Ways to Help to Help Kids Love Books!” at:
Are Teachers Undervalued?

The NCBLA would say yes- undervalued by our society, undervalued in salary compensation.
Daily Kos has an interesting open thread discussing this question with some intriguing ideas and provocative observations.
Check it out at:
Rich nations failing to deliver education aid
'The world's richest nations are failing to deliver promised aid to educate children in war-torn countries such as Somalia and the Congo, a charity claimed today."
Read more at:,,2055520,00.html
Jane Dyer Exhibit:
Family Field Trip to the Danforth Museum in Framingham, MA!

The works of talented children's book illustrators Jane Dyer and her daughter Brooke Dyer, are currently on exhibit at the Danforth Art Museum in Framingham, Massachusetts now until April 29th.
For information and directions go to:

Esperanto Long Gone: The New York Times Reporting English as Language of Global Education

"In the shifting universe of global academia, English is becoming as commonplace as creeping ivy and mortarboards. In the last five years, the world’s top business schools and universities have been pushing to make English the teaching tongue in a calculated strategy to raise revenues by attracting more international students and as a way to respond to globalization."
Read more at:
Quotes of Note....

"Will we learn from our past? Are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes? Not if we begin telling all the children the truth about this big house—this building we all live in, called the United States of America. Tell them about the climate, the atmosphere, the environment it was built on—who it was taken away from. Tell them about the true conditions those great documents of freedom were created under. Tell them the truth about the men who wrote them. Tell them all of it.
Tom Feelings"
Children's Literature New England 1990

It takes more courage to disturb the neighborhood than it takes to disturb the universe. And the price is often higher.
E. L. Konigsburg
The Center for the Study of Children's Literature 1983

So in our little, humble, simple ways, in publishing and otherwise, I think we almost become soldiers in a new war, which is to take on the salvation of the children. That sounds grandiose, but it’s how I felt when I did this book.
[We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy]
Maurice Sendak
Children's Literature New England 1994

Monday, April 2, 2007

A Poem is Gift
April is National Poetry Month...

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
April is National Poetry Month!

When is the last time you read or listened to a poem? Take some time this month and sink into a poem or two. Let a poem's rhythm, its notes wash over you.

Web sources for National Poetry Month:
Jane Austen, Was She a Babe?

Jane Austen- "Was she attractive or not? What if, to put it bluntly, she became a writer in part because she didn’t have the looks to land a husband along the lines of a Mr. Darcy or a Mr. Knightley?" Take a gander of old Jane at:
Interested in what young people think
about the world and their generation?

The New York Times began a blog written by talented, bright graduating college seniors that is fascinating to read. Unfortunately it is available only through Times Select. If you get Select service it is well worth reading this blog on their website.