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Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became An American Icon Along the Way

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  138 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
THE YEAR 2007 marks the 65th anniversary of a bold experiment: the launch of the Little Golden Books during the dark days of World War II. At a time when the literacy rate was not nearly as high as it is now - and privation was felt by nearly all - quality books for children would now be available at a price nearly everyone could afford (25 cents), and sold where ordinary ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 23rd 2007 by Golden Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 418)
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Sep 01, 2015 Eloise rated it it was amazing
Wonderful history of Golden Books made more meaningful by having met Leonard Marcus and hearing him speak in July.
Sep 20, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it
this is fantastic. a history of twentieth century printing/publishing, simon and shuster as well as little golden books. only a third of the way thru. didn't realize that leonard marcus did one of my favorite books, a collection of ursula nordstroms letters.
Laura Harrison
Oct 30, 2014 Laura Harrison rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant. A must-have for anyone who loves children's books or just wants to learn about the history of Golden Books. Plus it is written by Leonard Marcus. You just can't go wrong.
Jul 26, 2009 Eric_W rated it really liked it
My wife (the children's author and illustrator) was reading this book and laid it on the bed. I happened to see a couple of illustrations and I was hooked. This book will drive you into the depths of nostalgia like nothing else. Gorgeous covers -- you can skim most of the text, which while interesting, relates to a lot of the business aspects of Golden Books -- of all those books we loved and treasured as children. Remember The Color Kittens and The Poky Little Puppy? Golden Books created a sens ...more
Jul 17, 2011 Caren rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I have actually had this book for a couple of years, but had only feasted on its wealth of illustrations. Now, in anticipation of hearing the author speak at an exhibit of the books, I finally read through the text and found it to be fascinating. As part of the baby boom generation (that euphoric rush to procreation that followed World War II), Little Golden books were very much a part of my childhood. This detailed history of the publisher notes in passing how these inexpensive little books wer ...more
Aug 10, 2013 Williwaw rated it it was amazing
Several years ago, I heard the author, Leonard Marcus, speak at a traveling exhibit of original art from the Golden Books. I bought the book after the talk, and he kindly signed my copy! I recall reading some of these books when I was a child, and being enchanted by the illustrations.

I still find many of the illustrations enchanting. Perhaps even more-so now, as an adult. Or perhaps I simply experience them differently. Whether it is a qualitative or quantitative difference (or both!), there is
Oct 30, 2012 Diane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I thought this book would be a pleasant look at the Golden Books I remember as a child and then again as a mother and now once again as a grandmother. What a nice surprise to find a fascinating history of children's book publishing and printing and an overview of child book illustrators and writers. The focus is always Western Publishing and the Golden Books, but the net is much wider, including Disney, TV, marketing external forces such as the rise of feminism and civil rights. I loved that the ...more
Apr 24, 2014 Yellowoasis rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Growing up in Britain, I was not familiar with the Little Golden Books. It wasn't until I began studying children's literature that I became aware of them, and then as I started collecting particular writers and illustrators I realised that many of them were contributors to the Little Golden canon. This book traces the history of the publishing legend, and demonstrates how canny marketing can intersect with children's books.
Julia Carpenter
Feb 09, 2016 Julia Carpenter rated it really liked it
I've had this book since last year after seeing an exhibit of original art of some of the wonderful illustrations from Golden Books which I remember so fondly from my childhood. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history of Golden Books as well as about the great illustrators such as Tibor Gergely, Gustaf Tengren, Feodor Rojankovsky and more who brought these books to life.
Margaret Sankey
Aug 30, 2012 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it
This is a lavishly illustrated retrospective of the revolutionary Little Golden Books. These child-sized, inexpensive, lively books are so ubiquitous in my memory (The Poky Little Puppy, the Tawny-Scrawny Lion) that it seems bizarre that before 1942 children's books were usually published in forms that didn't lend themselves to rough handling, were only available in bookstores, or were marketed for adults reading to children from a larger volume. The part that really got me, though, is that in t ...more
Jan 25, 2014 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: library
Little Golden Books is a staple in many childhoods and it was interesting to see how it came about.

Positive discoveries include:
1. The company hired many women authors and artists, even in the early years including some of the top positions going to women.
2. Was the first to label or 'code' their books for easy purchasing. As well as include mixed cultural stories and characters.

Negative discoveries:
1. Too much unnecessary details.
2. Not enough about the actual books themselves.
Aug 29, 2007 Jean rated it really liked it
Leonard Marcus has once again turned his meticulous research into a readable treatise on one of childhood's beloved memories. Everyone remembers Little Golden Books because most of us had them. The were cheap enough that even relatively low income families could own one or two. And the stories and illustrations were timeless enough that 2nd and 3rd generations are reading books their parents and grandparents loved. The story of how Golden Books became a publishing empire is fascinating. I also e ...more
Feb 12, 2014 Jenny rated it really liked it
I particularly appreciated the bits about Golen books during both WWII and the Cold War. Also enjoyed reading about Mary Blair's tenure as an author/ illustrator. A neat piece of non-fiction on a rainy evening.
Aug 25, 2012 Ryan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: katherine
I admit that I gave up reading at one point and just looked at all the pictures. These were pictures from books at my grandmother's house, of books always on the shelf at home. Fresh-faced, apple-cheeked children, colorful, smiling animals...a good journey back in time.

The story is an interesting look at the publishing industry - how it has changed, and how it continues to change, especially with the introduction of new technology.

I wonder if there will be favorite picture books that children
Virginia Walter
Mar 21, 2008 Virginia Walter rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This history of the publishing venture that produced the first successful mass-produced children's books in the U.S. is lavishly illustrated with the pictures from those Little Golden Books that many of us remember from our post-war childhoods. We librarians may cringe when we read how our profession scorned these books as lacking in quality and not worthy of places on our precious library shelves. And yet some of the icons of children's literature -- Feodor Rojankovsky, Leonard Weisgard, Margar ...more
Jul 05, 2012 Nan rated it really liked it
Unlike kids today, the only books I remember actually owning as a child were Golden Books. Before they came along in the 1940s, books for kids in the home were relatively rare. Golden Books' idea to make them affordable (25 cents), accessible (sold in discount stores, supermarkets, and drugstores), and available year round (as opposed to just the holidays) created a publishing sensation that paved the way for the explosion of children's books that we still enjoy today. If you ever read Golden Bo ...more
Mary Jo
Aug 28, 2014 Mary Jo rated it it was amazing
Jan 17, 2011 Pam rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with children
I liked the illustrations and the book cover art, but I only skimmed the history of the publishing house. Perhaps it was the wrong time for me to be reading this. I feel I should be more interested since I'm from the Racine, WI area. The book is worth the price just for the illustrations though. I think everyone had at least one of the Golden Books while growing up. I know that my older sister got most of them as a child so there weren't very many new ones to give to me while I was a child.
Aug 25, 2008 Carrie rated it it was amazing
INCREDIBLE book for those who grew up loving Golden books, whether their own or the library's. At times the history wasn't deep enough for my tastes (I was definitely left wanting more), but the design and presentation are top-notch. Gorgeous! Now, if only they had dropped the dust jacket for 4-color cover... that would have been the perfect touch, and just like a real Golden Book.
Feb 26, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves children's books, and particularly, nostalgic baby-boomers
Fascinating history of both Golden Books, and children's publishing, and the artists, writers, and publishing personalities. Beautifully illustrated with lots of color. It's making me appreciate the Golden Books with new eyes -- so many authors and illustrators that I know of from other books, and many that I wish I had known about earlier. Some absolutely incredible artwork.
Jul 05, 2009 Rory rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Um, the writing was kinda boring, so I mostly just soaked up all the beautifully reproduced pictures and skimmed the text next to something particularly interesting. Which I think is a fine way to approach this book, which is pretty much a coffee table tome. Very fun for people who fondly remember their Little Goldens. (And isn't that MOST enthusiastic readers?)
Ann Santori
Dec 24, 2015 Ann Santori rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Though it suffers that hallmark deficit of many histories -- the overly pedantic detailing of names and places that won't mean anything to anyone but the most dedicated of scholars -- the volume as a whole is enjoyable, quick reading with beautiful illustration reproductions and intriguing cultural analysis.
Lois V.
Dec 07, 2012 Lois V. rated it really liked it
Fascinating history of Golden Books and competing publishers, it's unique editors, writers, illlus, and sales staff that rocketed the company into becoming an American icon, historic book covers and photos, exc. illustrations, interviews, solid research, well done
Sophie Brookover
Dec 10, 2014 Sophie Brookover rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I left it on the to-read shelf b/c I really only skimmed it. I would like a copy of my own -- it's that gorgeous and full of wonderful gossipy bits about Little Golden Books. Great stuff, again, from the eternally impressive Leonard Marcus.
May 01, 2008 Carol rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adults
Do you have a spot in your heart for Golden Books, Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever or Little Critter? Remember The Tawny Scrawny Lion and The Poky Little Puppy? Golden Legacy is interesting, informative and a walk down memory lane.
Dec 23, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
Took me back to my childhood....reading The Pokey Puppy and Doctor Dan the Bandage Man...complete with bandaids. I was enthralled. The history of the publication of the books was fascinating. Passed it on to my mother.
loved this book. Some parts were tough getting through (corporate changes) but mostly it was a walk down memory lane. I remember reading and having lots of Little Golden Books, first as a kid and then for my kids.
Jul 09, 2009 Carmyn rated it really liked it
I enjoy nonfiction reading and this is a celebration of one aspect of children's literature that I believe has gotten the short end of the stick for too long. Little Golden Books plus Dr. Suess made me who I am today.
May 24, 2010 Laura rated it liked it
I actually skimmed this book. I found the history interesting and learning about illustrators, authors, etc. I also wrote down a long list of books I need to check out and read to my kids!
Eric Orchard
Feb 26, 2011 Eric Orchard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating look inside the world of Golden Books. A bit heavy on the publishing intricacies but still lots of great stuff on the artists and writers.
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Leonard S. Marcus is one of the world's leading writers about children's books and their illustrations. His many books include The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy; Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy; Dear Genius; and others. His essays, interviews, and reviews appear in the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. Leonard S. Marcus lives in Br ...more
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