Tag Archives: Leonard S. Marcus

Want to know where I’ve been?

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I’m back, from a hiatus of sorts during which I went in for outpatient surgery for a benign ovarian cyst that turned into inpatient surgery for endometriosis (not serious, just invasive) and a partial Oophectomy. This means removal of one ovary but I just like to say it and write the official way because it sounds like something from Dr. Seuss. Oophectomy, toofectomy, roofectomy–see I can make up words just like him! Anyway, I’m recovering well but it took a lot out of me.

A few updates. The Mount, Edith Wharton’s house, has raised close to a million dollars but not without the controversy that is detailed in a recent New Yorker article. You can read an abstract of it here. They’ve also received another extension until May 31 and plan to open for the season in hopes of bringing in more money. I’ll keep you posted.

Time laid up means time to read, namely, Leonard S. Marcus’ magnum opus, Minders of Make Believe, the first ever history of children’s publishing in America from colonial times to the present. Absolutely fascinating stuff, IMHO. Children’s publishing has some entertaining personalities he lavishes attention on, especially in the twentieth century, such as the legendary Ursula Nordstrom, May Masee, Margaret K. McElderry, Maurice Sendak, Bennet Cerf, Dr. Seuss, Goldenbooks (a personality in themselves) and my personal fav, Louise Seaman Bechtel. It’s a monumental work and a fun dishy read at the same time. Bravo LSM, who is also coming to our university next spring as part of the Artist Residency Series. Can’t wait to meet him.
Other good laid up reads: Kaye Gibbons’ A Cure For Dreams, read in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down, and Aranzi Aronzo’s The Cute Book, a wonderful, easy craft about making felt mascots that even I could do.

Visited Heifer International in Perryville yesterday on a class field trip. Despite it being a bit too much physically (my incision, which frequently holds conversations with me, was virtually shouting yesterday afternoon, ) it was truly inspiring. We toured the global village and saw how the other 75% of the world’s population lives and learned all about their programs to feed, clothe and school the poor by providing them with livestock. We also learned the 7 M’s of livestock that help lift people out of poverty: Milk, Money, Muscle, Meat, Motivation, Manure, and Materials. I am thinking of starting a Read to Feed program with my own kids this summer wherein you can get a free starter packet to encourage your kids to read to raise money to send an animal to a family to help lift them out of poverty. Check it out:

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Learn more about Heifer International's Read to Feed Program.
Children Reading to Fight World Hunger


Classes are over and I have several writing projects, well, right now the novel and the book on creative writing in higher ed, that I need to devote serious attention to but it’s been a slow start.
I’ll keep you posted. The next post, in fact, will be another short one on writing in keeping with the thread I started a while back asking about people’s revision habits. Stay tuned.

Bye y’all,



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The Golden Legacy: A Review Essay in Two Parts

<img src=”PhotobucketPart One–My Love Affair with Golden Books

(Look for Part Two, Leonard S. Marcus Sets the Record Straight sometime later this week.)

My Love Affair with Golden Books

My affection toward Golden Books began in my childhood but truly blossomed when I became an adult and began to divine and appreciate the aspects of culture that made me who I am, my influences, if you will.  Of course, like anyone who grew up in America post 1940, these books were part of the backdrop of my childhood and as such, I have only hazy memories of many of them.  There was Richard Scarry’s Golden Book of Manners, the Best Word Book Ever, which I loved to tatters (just like the little boys above), My Picnic Basket, The Monster at the End of this Book, The Together Book (I am proud to call myself a member of the very first Sesame Street Generation), but without realizing it, I gravitated most toward the work of Eloise Wilkin, who illustrated hundreds of books over the course of her career, many of them for Golden Publishing.  The illustrations in Mother Goose , The New Baby,  (both the 1940’s and 1970’s editions), We Like Kindergarten, with their realistically cherubic babies and children, and their detailed, cottage interiors and idealized families never failed to captivate me as a child.  I wanted to be part of the family in Baby’s Birthday, to sleep under the cozy eaves in the nursery or partake of the frosted animal-cracker birthday cake (I even made my son an exact replica for his second birthday), to attend Clara Kennedy’s Kindergarten in We Like Kindergarten or to wear the adorably smudged face and smocked dresses of little Polly Flinders.  For all intents and purposes, it was a perfect world.

In fact, I didn’t even realize these books were all by the same illustrator until my mother gave me The Eloise Wilkin Treasury when I was in college.  Even in those pre-ebay days, I set about re-constituting my collection, which had long since been farmed out to tag sales and younger cousins.  But it wasn’t until the internet dawned and I began to search for information about about Ms. Wilkin in earnest that I learned she was also a legendary doll designer for Vogue dolls, “mother” of the popular Baby Dear One of the sixties and seventies and of the prize of my own extensive doll collection, Welcome Home Baby.  Why, no wonder those illustrations and those lifelike baby dolls stirred my childhood heart like no other–they came from the supple hands of the same artist!

Fast forward to Fall 2001.  I have been collecting Eloise Wilkin’s books in earnest, for some years, and as an extension of my love of writing for children and children’s books (which extends far far beyond Little Goldens, I assure you) have begun teaching Writing for Children at the University of Central Arkansas where I am a writing professor.  My class and I are visiting the home of Venita Lovelace Chandler, an academic, Physical Therapist, and owner of one of the largest collections of Little Golden Books outside the archives of Western Publishing.  Dr. Chandler has generously  invited us to hear about her love, her obsession, and its crucial role in the history of American literacy and children’s publishing.

Only weeks before, the Twin Towers have fallen and thousands of people have been vaporized in a cloud that continues to hang over New York City, where I grew up.  Postal workers are dying from anthrax, world leaders appear on television nightly with pale, shaken countenances and we worry about our children’s very futures as we await the next attack.

But for the first time, as Professor Chandler shows us her books, with their vibrant and yes, nostaglic illustrations of times past, the work of artists who had just been forced to abandon their Eastern European homelands, emigrate to this country and somehow create art, whimisical, merry art, the terrifiying din of the outside world begins to fade to a whisper and for a little while, we remember what it’s like to feel safe again.  To smell an apple pie cooling on a window ledge or worry about a puppy with a taste for adventure, to know that happiness is a shared skate key and comfort only as far away as the fluffy duvet in your dormered bedroom. 

So, that’s the story of my love affair with Golden books.  If you have one, I’d love to hear it.

Don’t forget, every comment between now and February 4 enters you in the Wordamour January/February Goody Giveaway!

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Preview of upcoming posts (aka–books for Christmas!)


I am supposed to be cleaning my house at this moment, in preparation for most-welcome weekend guests, but I’m finding it hard to get in the vacuuming groove, so I think I’ll give you all a little preview of some upcoming book reviews you can look forward to here (as in, yes, I got  books for Christmas, whee!).

The Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever and Became an American Icon Along the Way by Leonard S. MarcusThis was #1 on my wish list.  I’m almost done with it.  Can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Beyond Plot: The Art of Subtext by Charles Baxter

No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason
Yes, I’m committed to entertaining YOU–and to hopefully growing my audience.

The Crafter’s Companion: Tips, Tales and Patterns from a Community of Crafters
Dispatches from my other life.

The Machine in the Nursery: Incubator Technology and the Origins of Neonatal Care
by Jeffrey P. Baker
Fascinating stuff, background for 2 writing projects I’m working on. Thank God for Interlibrary loan (click the link to find out why).

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda Not nearly as hokey as the title would suggest. The man can write. More later.

Sigh. I’ve put of the inevitable long enough. Back to the vacuum. With DH gone off running errands and the kids upstairs, at least I can crank up the Pavarotti.

So, look for reviews of these and more in the coming weeks and don’t forget the new Wordamour Giveaway, starting January 4 and running till Feburary 4!
Bye, y’all!

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