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Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children's Books
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Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children's Books

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  717 ratings  ·  187 reviews
This rollicking and fascinating picture book biography chronicles the life of the first pioneer of children's books—John Newbery himself. While most children's books in the 18th century contained lessons and rules, John Newbery imagined them overflowing with entertaining stories, science, and games. He believed that every book should be made for the reader's enjoyment. New ...more
Hardcover, 44 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Chronicle Books (first published 2017)
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4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  717 ratings  ·  187 reviews

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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
From the minute I opened the book to the first page, and saw the old-fashioned font and illustrations, I knew I would love it. Markel describes how boring children's books were until Newbery became a publisher in London and decided to print books that would interest children. My favorite picture in the book is a two-page spread of Newbery and a whole group of kids shouting "Balderdash!" to the parents who thought that reading fun books would make children act like wild beasts. Newbery cleverly m ...more
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This charming picture book for children and adults tells the story of how children's literature came to be and why. In the days of powdered wigs and hoop skirts books were for the wealthy. They were boring and hard for children to read. Books aimed at children told children how to behave and what to do. John Newbery rejected that. He thought children's books should be entertaining tales. He became a printer, editor and possibly author of fairy tales and fun folk tales for children. The History o ...more
Michele Knott
An interesting look at the man behind the medal! I think when you look at what the award is given for - most distinguished contribution to children's literature - readers will be able to compare to Newbery's own contributions during his lifetime.
I know how our Mock Newbery Club will begin its first meeting every year!
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lihat sampul buku ini langsung jatuh cinta. Judulnya menarik, tapi yang lebih menarik sub judulnya. Ow, ternyata ini biografi John Newbery, yang namanya digunakan sebagai nama penghargaan (Newberry Medal). Newbery Medal adalah salah satu penghargaan prestisius untuk buku anak. Saat penerbit Mizan (melalui Kaifa dan DAR!) menerbitkan buku-buku yang mendapat Newbery Medal di awal tahun 2000an, saya mengoleksi hampir semua judul.

Buku bergambar ini mengisahkan jatuh bangun John Newbery menerbitkan
Detailed and lively pen and ink and digital medial illustrations complement the story of John Newbery, the man many credit as the father of modern children's literature. Bibliophiles will surely recognize his name, which now is emblazoned on one of the premiere prizes for excellence in writing for children. Given annually since 1922, the medal can be credited for possibly elevating the quality of children's books. In this picture book, Newbery is depicted as someone interested in reading and pub ...more
Kid Lit Reviews
PPBF --- Perfect Picture Book Friday Group Post

This rollicking and fascinating picture book biography chronicles the life of the first pioneer of children’s books—John Newbery himself. While most children’s books in the 18th century contained lessons and rules, John Newbery imagined them overflowing with entertaining stories, science, and . . .

Why I like this book:

~The illustrations, paper choice, font changes, and of course the powder wigs put readers in 18th century England.
~I like the exubera
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Could a librarian possibly NOT give this book 5 stars? It's the story of John Newbery and how he championed the writing and publishing of children's books in the mid 1700s in England.

I don't think that kids will readily pick this up and read it---even though it is in engaging picture book format. It's another one of those children's books that adults will probably enjoy more than children.

Scott Fillner
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This will be a great book to kick off our Mock Newbery.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
The illustrations were great but I really liked the variation of fonts throughout. I know, weird. Good into to Newbery and his philosophy of children's books.
Mary Ann
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Fun design, great illustrations, but I'm just not sure it connects enough to today's young readers.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bonus points to this history book for showing people of color in its pages, unlike so many other history and historical fiction books that seem to assume there were no POCs until the 1900s.
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
What better day to look at a book about John Newbery than today, the day when the 2018 Newbery Award is announced, along with all the other ALA Youth Media Awards. And while most people know about the Newbery Award, few know about the man it is named for. No need to wonder any more - Balderdash! tells the story of John Newbery and his novel idea of publishing books for young readers that they would want to read.

Way back when, that is, before 1726, children had only preachy poems and fables or re
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First sentence: Welcome! This book's for you. Every page, every picture, every word, and even its letters are designed for your pleasure. Lucky, lucky reader. Be glad it's not 1726.

Premise/plot: Balderdash is the story of the origins of children's book publishing. It is the story of one man in particular, John Newbery, and his contribution to the world. And it is a BIG contribution to be sure. The narrative begins by taking readers back to a time when books were decidedly NOT for children. "In t
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This picture book biography is the story of John Newbery, the man who first created books for children in the 18th century. Books were popular in London at the time, but all of the fun books were for adults. Children had to read poems and fables that were dull and taught them about social niceties. John Newbery grew up to be a publisher and realized that children needed different books. He created a book that was filled with fantasy and games and then he made it very attractive and paired it wit ...more
Anyone who loves reading Newbery award-winning books for children will love this book, and it even includes parts of the stories that he created and first published. As the book says to children readers, be glad you didn't live in 1726 because people thought children only needed books that taught them "preachy poems and fables." John Newbery thought otherwise, and you can discover how he changed children's literature in this book. It's such a happy story, and the colorful, black-outlined illustr ...more
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was great to read about the person who inspired one of the most prestigious awards in children's literature.

As a publisher, a bookseller, an author, and a clever marketer, John Newbery became an early pioneer in making children's books things that kids would actually want to read.

A fascinating story paired with lively illustrations and packed with lots of back matter information. Book lovers- particularly those in the kidlit community- will enjoy this and want to add this to their collection.
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This adorable book tells the story of John Newbery and the beginning of picture books with quirky illustrations and simple text. Though it's a biography, it is everything a biography in picture book format should be: cute, fun, easy to understand, engaging, and it tells a story children should know. And not just children - adults should know this one, too. I mean, have you ever wondered where the Newbery Award comes from?

I would definitely use this for storytime.
Lisa D
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this! What a unique book!
Deborah Lane
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lovely book. Gives background of evolution of children's reading books. Illustrations lovely also.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book!
J. Bryce
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cute kids' bio of children's lit pioneer John Newbery (1713-1767), who the Newbery Medal is named for.

Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A slam dunk to get in most children't libraries. An excellent case made that reading for children should be a celebration.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I will definitely be reading this to introduce Mock Newbery this year!
Mackenzie Virginia
5 stars to design and enthusiasm - I loved the paper quality, the different typefaces, and the illustration styles.

The content is a little bit harder for me to rate. A very good introduction to the idea that children's books haven't always existed and a wonderful tribute to those who believed in kid lit, but I feel that some of the technical terms and other vocabulary might be out of reach for some younger readers.
High hopes for this one, but it didn't quite connect with me.
Full review can be found at

Balderdash! is a great biography about a man whose name is synonymous with children’s literature. The cover of the book even has such a wonderful illustration by Nancy Carpenter that the book screams out to be read. But even with Newbery being such an important name in children’s literature, I admit that I didn’t know much about him before reading this book.

Given the amount of children’s literature I read, I can’t fathom a time when there
Baby Bookworm
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-reviews

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Today, we’re reading Balderdash!: John Newbery And The Boisterous Birth Of Children’s Books, written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, the story of the famous publisher and his dream to bring a new genre of literature to life.

Back in 18th century, when John Newbery was just a lad, there were no books for children – well, except for dry school texts and omino
I had a hard time deciding on this one for only one reason. The story itself is totally fine- interesting, informative, engaging. Pretty illustrations and fun typography and page design. But.


*Almost* every face (and there's A LOT of faces) is white. On the one hand, this is historically set during a time of slavery, so excuses could be made. On the other hand (and more importantly, heart and mind), who cares? It's a kids book filled with illustrated inaccuracies technically (I doubt a ton of
Taylor Phillips
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was about John Newbery (also known as the "Father of Children's Literacy") and how he changed children's literature in the 1700's. The book talks about how he opened a store full of children's books and the children wanted to read them so badly! The pictures show children in the streets with his books. This is because his books were fun to read. They were about stories, science, games, and fun. This is a biography of Newbery and how he felt that children's books should be full of wonde ...more
Stephanie Bange
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In 2013, Leonard S. Marcus wrote a picturebook about Randolph Caldecott (published by Farrar Straus and Giroux) using Caldecott’s own illustrations to tell his story. As a member of the 2015 Newbery Award Committee, it should surprise no one that I would jump for joy when seeing a picturebook about John Newbery that serves as a complimentary piece.

England in 1726 was “brimming with books. Books about pirates and monsters and miniature people. Tales of travels and quests and shipwrecks and crime
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Michelle Markel has written several notable nonfiction picture books, including the The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau, (PEN Picture Book Writing Award) Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 (Jane Addams Flora Stieglitz Award; Orbis Pictus Honor) and Tyrannosaurus Math (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice). Her upcoming title is Balderdash: John Newbery and the Boi ...more