Dasha's Reviews > Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom

Dear Genius by Ursula Nordstrom
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Aug 07, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: picture-books

One of the more inspiring books I have ever read - I started out just wanting to see how this woman [the editor of most of my favorite children's books of 1950-1980:] talked to her authors and illustrators - I made mental notes - oh see she sounds cross, but she is just being supportive and constructive, etc.
But the more I read it, the more Ursula's own personality was fleshed out - these letters do really give a sense of what a force she must have been - she doesn't give too many personal details - but she does give some, and the book does cover a span of about 45 years while she was at Harper - her childhood and her history and her opinions and politics [a lot about her opinions and politics actually,:] and she seems like the kind of person I would have loved to have met. Somehow the letters become a narrative and not just a collection of correspondence - at the end, as she is winding down her work as an editor and is writing her authors to tell them that - it is profoundly sad and such a loss.

The most fantastic thing about her is what she seemed to think of children and their relationship with books and their authors - she felt that the authors/illustrators had a special kinship with the children and that the editor was the outsider, the adult, who did know always know best.

One of my favorite quotes from the introduction:
"Asked pointedly by Anne Carroll Moore, the New York Public Library's superintendent of work with children, what qualified her, a nonlibrarian, nonteacher, nonparent, and non college graduate [oh yeah! she hadn't graduated college!:] to publish children's books, Nordstrom just as pointedly replied, "Well, I am a former child, and I haven't forgotten a thing."

Amazing.
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