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Helen Oxenbury: A Life in Illustration

When Mar­sha Qua­ley began this col­umn six years ago, she had us all on the look­out for books about children’s lit­er­a­ture. What would add to our under­stand­ing of this very par­tic­u­lar com­mu­ni­ty of edu­ca­tors, stu­dents, col­lec­tor, and cre­ators? This book about Helen Oxen­bury by Leonard Mar­cus is a gem, filled with the wis­dom of a revered author-illus­tra­tor as well as her illus­tra­tions and deli­cious pho­tos that help our understanding.… more
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How the Heather Looks: a Joyous Journey
to the British Sources of Children’s Books

If any good has come from the quar­an­tine of 2020, it’s made me a heavy library user — my per­son­al library, that is, since the pub­lic libraries are closed. I found this book in a dress­er draw­er. (When I redid my office, I didn’t want the clut­ter of book­cas­es, instead opt­ing for vin­tage dressers and armoires — love­ly to look at but I for­get what’s in them).… more
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Welcome to Lizard Motel

There is a spe­cial peri­od of … child­hood, approx­i­mate­ly from five or six to eleven or twelve — between the striv­ings of ani­mal infan­cy and the storms of ado­les­cence — when the nat­ur­al world is expe­ri­enced in some high­ly evoca­tive way … It is prin­ci­pal­ly to this mid­dle age range … that writ­ers say they return in mem­o­ry in order to renew the pow­er and impulse to cre­ate.more
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Literary Madeleine: Sing a Song of Seasons

I believe this book belongs in every class­room, every home, and in every child’s life. It is a won­drous book to read, to look at, to mem­o­rize, and to talk about with the chil­dren around you. It is a Lit­er­ary Madeleine, scrump­tious in every way. The full title is Sing a Song of Sea­sons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year, edit­ed by Fiona Water and illus­trat­ed by Frann Pre­ston-Gan­non, it is a won­der.… more
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Boys and Girls of Bookland

Boys and Girls of Bookland

This is how book col­lect­ing goes. You see some­thing that piques your curios­i­ty. You won­der: “Why did this book get pub­lished?” “Who would have bought this book?” “On whose shelves did this book rest and why did they let it go?” “Was it a gift, nev­er opened, or was it cher­ished and read over and over again?” Some­times you’re curi­ous about the text or the illus­tra­tions or the bind­ing or the publisher.… more
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John Burningham

John Burningham

You prob­a­bly know John Burn­ing­ham best for Mr. Gumpy’s Out­ing but illus­tra­tors, book cre­ators, are so much more than what we see between the cov­ers of their books. Their lives are often illus­trat­ed. They record things on paper visu­al­ly. They put what they’ve observed into draw­ers and port­fo­lios and note­books so they have that once-seen image to call upon for their work.… more
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Quentin Blake: Beyond the Page

Beyond the Page

  by Vic­ki Palmquist I’ve been savor­ing Quentin Blake: Beyond the Page (Tate Pub­lish­ing, 2012), a book that is replete with pho­tos, illus­tra­tive art, and all the many ways Mr. Blake’s art has adorned many aspects of life “beyond the page.” In his own voice, we hear of the places illus­tra­tion has tak­en him. With some­thing near a state of won­der, Mr.… more
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My Seneca Village

by Mar­sha Qualey My Seneca Vil­lage
by Mar­i­lyn Nel­son
Name­los, 2015 I’m going to begin with a dis­claimer that is also a bit o’ brag­ging. I’ve had the good for­tune to meet and work with Mar­i­lyn Nel­son (A Wreath for Emmett Till, Snook Alone, How I Dis­cov­ered Poet­ry). I’ve stayed up late and sipped wine and talked with her, spent a day escort­ing her to school vis­its where she wowed ele­men­tary stu­dents; she once supped at my table.… more
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Classic Children’s Comics

by Vic­ki Palmquist No one I knew ever picked up Archie or Lulu or Den­nis the Men­ace because it was Required Read­ing. We read comics because we want­ed to see what was going to hap­pen. We want­ed to take that unex­pect­ed turn.” — Jon Sci­esz­ka When I was in high school, I went on a hunt to find as many old comics as I could, learn­ing about the his­to­ry, the con­tro­ver­sy, the artists, and the love affair that swooped up so many kids and showed them that good sto­ries exist in many forms.… more
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Literary Madeleine: Grasping at Stars


by Vic­ki Palmquist
How many chil­dren, over how many years, have learned from their par­ents to iden­ti­fy the stars that make up the Big Dip­per? Can you see them stand­ing out­side, point­ing to the stars in the dark sky, trac­ing the make-believe line that draws a saucepan in the heavens? My moth­er told me some of the sto­ries she knew about the con­stel­la­tions, about the Great Bear and Ori­on and Androm­e­da.… more
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Literary Madeleine: A History of Reading

by Mar­sha Qualey One of the great good for­tunes of my life is that I’ve man­aged to cre­ate a pro­fes­sion­al life that requires I read a lot. Read­ing is a pas­sion; the old bumper stick­er says it all: I’d rather be reading. But I also think read­ing is an inter­est­ing top­ic. How and why do we read? Who were the first read­ers?… more
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madeleines

Literary Madeleine: The Horse

I am not a horse person. Oh, I survived a week at Girl Scout riding camp and years later when I was on the staff at a Y camp I enjoyed helping bridle and saddle horses for the early morning trail riders. But I’ve never been truly comfortable riding or, maybe especially...
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