Leonard S.Marcus
Children's Book Historian, Author, Critic
                       
                 
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
    STORIED CITY: A CHILDREN'S BOOK WALKING-TOUR GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY (Dutton, 2003)

"More than 200 books for children and teens make their appearance in Marcus's affectionate and limpidly clear walking tour of the literary sidewalks of New York. Excellent, wide-ranging, brilliantly and carefully done. . . . New York's mosaic of ethnicities and cultures . . . are well represented. . . For wandering about the city, or for answering children's questions as to whether a place or moment in New York City literature really exists, this is extremely cool."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A fascinating array of walking tours of New York City. The scope of this project is huge. . . . Aficionados of children's literature will enjoy this title, as will city children and their families, or visitors familiar with therse famous scenes and stories. . . . Don't come to town without this handy guide."
- JoAnn Jonas, School Library Journal Book of the Week

"Leonard S. Marcus seems to know New York City as well as he knows children's books, which is, as readers of this magazine will know, [saying] a lot. . . .The research is impressive but lightly worn; the writing and pocket-size are both companionable."
- The Horn Book Hunt Breakfast








   

WAYS OF TELLING: CONVERSATIONS ON THE ART OF THE PICTURE BOOK
(Dutton, 2002)


"True to his style, Marcus poses questions that show the depth of his knowledge and his ability to make connections. . . . [He does so] in ways that will interest young readers as well as adults. . . . Depending on his interviewee, he customizes his focus on issues such as racism, culturally influenced artistic style, historical connections and inspiration. . . . His intent was to seek the thread that connects people's life work with their life stories, and it is evident that he has been very successful in making those connections clear to his audience." - Junko Yokota, Children & Libraries

"Ways of Telling is remarkably rich in texture, thanks not only to the array of diverse voices speaking from its pages but also to Marcus's guiding intelligence and imagination. . . . An important contribution to the professional literature on the picture book, this volume is likely to be an engaging read for anyone interested in children's books - and in the creative process." - Susan Marie Swanson, The Riverbank Review

"The celebrated children's-book historian and critic . . . here [publishes] interviews he has conducted with fourteen authors and illustrators whose picture books have had "a major impact" in the United States since World War II. . . . This collection shouldn't be missed."
-Elizabeth Ward, Washington Post Book

"Whether he is conversing with Mitsumasa Anno, Charlotte Zolotow, or one of the twelve other luminaries here, Marcus has a rare gift for gentle, intelligent inquiry that elicits confidences about modes of working, life histories and concerns, and aesthetic and personal philosophies. Moreover, as Marcus is thoroughly familiar with the entire oeuvres of these illustrators and authors, the interchanges are as valuable for his insights and creative connections as for his subjects' revelations. His judicious questions vary like the artists themselves; the resulting interviews are unique portraits, drawn with sensitivity and depth. . . . All in all, this is a rich brew of contrasts and similarities, epiphanies and confirmations, one that will delight all who care about children and their books."
- Joanna Rudge Long, in The Horn Book (starred review)

"From Mitsumasa Anno to Charlotte Zolotow, readers will find compelling stories to fascinate anyone who studies, uses, loves, or is puzzled by some of the most compelling picture books of the last half century. Ways of Telling is a highly readable, often humorous, and intensely rewarding book for novices and seasoned professionals alike."
- Connie C. Rockman, in School Library Journal (starred review)

"The interviews . . . provide valuable insights into the workings of the minds behind some of the most beloved picture books of the past half-century. . . . A valuable contribution to the scholarship of children's books." - Kirkus Reviews

"...Marcus' skill as an interviewer comes through in each sessions; insightful questions bespeak careful research, and the interviewer's willingness to abandon planned questions in favor of going with the interviewee's train of thought results in vigorous and enlightening discussions. ... Marcus' humor, enthusiasm, and obvious knowledge of his subjects informs each session, making this title highly entertaining as well as enlightening."
- Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books







   

SIDE BY SIDE: FIVE FAVORITE PICTURE-BOOK TEAMS GO TO WORK
(Walker, 2001)


"Marcus describes the creative collaborations of five author-artist teams whose processes prove as varied as their books. . . . Readers snared by their interest in the teams behind favorites such as the Magic School Bus series and The Stinky Cheese Man will appreciate the insights into the inner workings of bookmaking, and may well end up appreciating the books more for the energy and ingenuity it takes to create them." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Teachers and librarians who want to promote collaboration in the classroom or just share their enthusiasm for the creative process and those who practice it will find plenty of good material in this well-written and beautifully designed book." - Booklist (starred review)

"With his broad knowledge of the field and the imagination to communicate that knowledge to others, Leonard Marcus here provides unusual insight into the topic of artistic partnerships. . . . What raises this book to the level of art and literary criticism is Marcusís analysis of a pivotal work by each of the five teams, with clear explanations and plenty of visual material to further clarify those explanations. . . . A book that lives up to its subject." - The Horn Book

"If ever a book created an occasion to head to the library for more, this is the one. . . . Marcus opens up a world of creativity with this new offering." - Riverbank Review







   

AUTHOR TALK
(Simon & Schuster, 2000)


"[In] this inventive and colorful book, . . . Marcus does a splendid job of asking the questions that young readers would want to ask and of providing an intimate glimpse into the life of each writer. . . .School and public librarians will find this title a wonderful supplement to book discussions, book or author reports, read-aloud programs, or as leisure reading for aspiring young writers." - VOYA (5Q)

"An excellent choice for aspiring writers and avid readers." - Publishers Weekly

"Just when you thought you had learned everything you ever wanted to know about the personal lives of children's authors, along comes a book that offers something new. . . . Concise interviews get to the heart of each author's childhood aspirations and inspirations and reveal details about their contemporary lives as writers. . . . Marcus is clearly most interested in the creative process itself, and it is this focus that makes the book unique." - The Horn Book

"Marcus interviews 15 children's authors, who speak about their childhood, their pleasures, their writing, and reading. Each interview begins with a lively and informative introduction in which Marcus draws a verbal picture of the author. . . . Just imagine sitting down with Judy Blume or E. L. Konigsburg or Nicholasa Mohr or Laurence Yep. Author Talk allows children to do just that." - School Library Journal

". . . an engaging, informative volume. . . . Information in this book is accessible, satisfying, and entertainment, so this could easily become a top choice for students' perennial book-report assignments." - Christian Science Monitor

"For the child who loves to read, who may dream of being a writer, this book's a treasure." - Chicago Tribune

"Thanks to Author Talk . . ., children can now get to know the 'real people' who write their favorite books and perhaps be inspired to do more writing themselves." - Kathleen Odean,
Book magazine







    DEAR GENIUS: THE LETTERS OF URSULA NORDSTROM
(HarperCollins,1998; 2000)


Ursula Nordstrom, director of Harper's Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940 to 1973, is a legend-one of the most creative forces in children's books. Working with such talents as Maurice Sendak, E. B. White, Margaret Wise Brown, Shel Silverstein, Garth Williams, and John Steptoe, Nordstrom recognized that each was a genius to be nurtured, encouraged, and published.
Here are the entertaining, thought-provoking, and moving editorial letters of this extraordinary woman.

"Irresistible."
- The New Yorker

"Wonderful."
- Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World

"These letters, written by Harper's long-term children's-book editor (1940-73), are irresistible. They document Nordstrom's rebellion against the mealy-mouthed gentility of books that treated children as innocents to be shielded from almost everything: the children's librarian at the New York Public Library thought that "Stuart Little" should be suppressed because mice were unpleasant. Nordstrom's motto was Good books for bad children."
- The New Yorker

"Ursula Nordstrom was arguably the greatest editor of American children's books in this century, the Maxwell Perkins for the Tot Department, as she called her bailiwick at Harper & Row. . . . Her real genius glows from these letters."
- New York Times Book Review (page one review)

"The 1950s and 60s were a golden age in children's book publishing in America. . . . [Ursula] Nordstrom led the way as the visionary and influential director of Harper Books for Books and Girls from 1940 to 1973. Variously and affectionately addressed as Ursula Maelstrom, Ursa Major and The Ursula Nordstrom, she possessed a vivid, dramatic flair in her letter writing. . . . To read these letters is . . . to feel a deep sense of gratitude to Leonard Marcus for acquainting us with an extraordinarily brilliant, voluble, open-hearted woman."
- Chicago Tribune Books (page one review)

"This extraordinary volume speaks to anyone who loves words, books, or children."
- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Beguiling. . . . We can now eavesdrop on history-in-the-making through Nordstrom's correspondence with such luminaries as Margaret Wise Brown, Meindert DeJong, Garth Williams, Louise Fitzhugh, Ruth Krauss, Mary Rodgers, Russell Hoban, Maurice Sendak, and E. B. White."
- The Horn Book (starred review)







   

A CALDECOTT CELEBRATION: SIX ARTISTS and THEIR PATHS to THE CALDECOTT MEDAL
(Walker, 1998)


Step behind the scenes to see how six Caldecott winners created their award-winning books: Robert McCloskey (Make Way for Ducklings); Marcia Brown (Cinderella);
Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are); William Steig (Sylvester and the Magic Pebble); Chris Van Allsburg (Jumanji);
and David Wiesner (Tuesday). With photos, sketches, dummies, and more; text based on interviews with the artists.

1999 ALA Notable Children's Book
1999 winner, Independent Publishers Association Award, Best Picture Book
1998 New York Public Library "100 Titles for Reading and Sharing"
Starred reviews: Booklist, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly

"A beautifully made book."
- Booklist (starred review)
"Eminently satisfying."
- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Filled with witty anecdotes and pithy observations . . . [and] the kinds of details children relish. . . . With Marcus's sure hand guiding the tour, readers will find cause for celebration."
- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"While the focus is on the creation of the award-winning books, a great deal of background about the artists' lives and the way in which they work is given. The large, attractive pages invite readers to savor the multitude of illustrations."
- School Library Journal (starred review)

"Art is the major focus here: including photos of each author and their dummies, preliminary sketches, finished artwork. The transformations that take place between concept and final book are intriguing. For example,Where the Wild Things Are began as an odd, narrow little book shaped like a ruler, entitled 'Where the Wild Horses Are.' At one point, Sendak wrote in his notebook, 'ABANDON!!!! Dreadful story!!' . . . Marcus's short but wide-ranging discussion of each artist will appeal to older school-age children as well as adults."
- BookPage







   

MARGARET WISE BROWN: AWAKENED BY THE MOON
(Quill/Morrow, 1999)


Margaret Wise Brown (1910-1952), author of Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, was early childhood's poet laureate and one of the best-selling children's authors of all time. Margaret Wise Brown is the definitive biography of this colorful and often controversial figure.

"An absorbing biography."
- New York Times Book Review

"More than a finely etched, honest portrait of an artist, Margaret Wise Brown is an exciting, fast-paced glimpse into the very beginnings of the golden age of children's book publishing in America. Leonard Marcus has restored Brown to her rightful place as both pioneer and poet."
- Maurice Sendak

"Thorough and thoughtful. . . . The overview of the children's literature field that Marcus provides gives us a real grasp of just how groundbreaking Brown's work was. An engaging biography about a talented, bright and mercurial woman."
- USA Today

"Marcus's exhaustive research and perceptive analysis reveal not only a creative genius, but also a woman who was painfully ahead of her time."
- San Francisco Chronicle Book Review







    THE MAKING OF GOODNIGHT MOON: A Fiftieth Anniversary Retrospective
(HarperCollins,1997)


Lively anecdotes about the making of the classic bedtime story Goodnight Moon will delight both new and devoted fans. Previously unpublished photographs of Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd, as well as pages from the original dummy and full-color studies of the artwork, tell a personal story of friendship, respect, and inspired collaboration.

"Illuminating."
- Los Angeles Times Book Review

"An engrossing story-behind-the-book."
- San Francisco Chronicle Book Review







   

ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll;
illustrated with photographs by Abelardo Morell;
introduction by Leonard S. Marcus
(Dutton, 1998)

You know the story-the little girl, the rabbit hole, "eat me","drink me", et cetera, et cetera. It's quite the fantastic adventure. What makes this edition of Lewis Carroll's classic unique are the haunting photographs by Abelardo Morell. By making cutouts of Sir John Tenniel's famous illustrations,
staging them in playfully surreal three-dimensional settings, and then photographing them, Morell has created powerful images in an otherworldly style. How Carrollian! With an introduction that offers a glimpse into the intriguing connection between Carroll's pioneering efforts as a photographer and his timeless contributions to the world of nonsense.

"There is no end to the available editions of Alice, of course, but here is one worth having."
- Booklist

"There are two reasons why Carrollians of all ages will relish this new edition of the first Alice book. One: the splendid introduction by Leonard S. Marcus; two: the book's remarkable illustrations. Abelardo Morell had the happy thought of combining cutouts of Tennielís drawings with ingenious photographs that comment cleverly on the text. His picture of a rabbit hole going down through the middle of a huge dictionary was sheer inspiration. Lewis Carroll, pioneer photographer, would have been delighted and amused."
- Martin Gardner, author of The Annotated Alice

"What an inspired idea, to combine two such Carrollian icons as Tenniel's Alice and Dodgson's passion for photography! Abelardo Morell's photographs stir the imagination powerfully. . . . It is no mean thing to take up a work of genius and renew it for all inquiring minds, young and old, and that is what has been done here."- Elizabeth Sewell, author of The Field of Nonsense

"A handsomely printed edition. . . . Evocative imagery, and an insightful essay on Dodgson, photography and illustration.",
- Knight Letter of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America







   

LIFELINES: A POETRY ANTHOLOGY PATTERNED ON THE STAGES OF LIFE
(Dutton, 1994)


80 poems chronicle the ages and stages of life from infancy and childhood to old age and death. Illustrated with photographs by Imogen Cunningham, Bruce Davidson, and others.

"One of those fine anthologies whose whole is greater than the sum of its excellent parts."
-Kirkus (starred review)

"This is such a good idea. Leonard Marcus has woven a wonderful variety of poets and their poems into a fascinating running commentary on that most individual and universal of journeys: the one from birth to death."
- Karla Kuskin

1994 Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book
1994 New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age
1995 Hungry Mind Review Book of Distinction
1995 Child Study Children's Book Committee Books of the Year
1995 CBC/National Council for the Social Studies Notable Book in the field of Social Studies

"In the gracefully written preface to this challenging and thought-provoking anthology, Marcus expresses the hope that the reader will 'be touched by the urgency and ardor with which the poets . . . have set about the mysterious work of examining their own life stories for traces of yours and mine.' His superb selections are indeed likely to communicate both urgency and ardor. . . . Some [are] funny, some achingly poignant, some expected and familiar, some new-yet they cohere as a beautifully designed whole."
- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The poems are characteristically short, simple, and powerful. The mini-bios are a perfect classroom complement. Surely, there is something here for all ages, and what a marvelous collection to teach and read from."
- The ALAN Review

"Young readers coming fresh to this book will find poems like surprises that take them to many people and places around the world-not for sightseeing, but for a close look at all of us as we move through our lives."
- Claudia Lewis, Professor Emeritus, Bank Street College of Education

"Best, these are poems that, as Marcus says in a provocative introduction, provide you with a good many starting points for viewing your own, and other people's, life experiences."
- Kirkus (pointer review)








   

75 YEARS OF CHILDREN'S BOOK WEEK POSTERS
(Knopf, 1994)

From Jessie Willcox Smith and N. C. Wyeth to Maurice Sendak and Chris Van Allsburg, generations of renowned artists have lent their talents to help mark Children's Book Week. The posters they created-which are reproduced in full-color in this lavish volume- make for fascinating social commentary as well as a unique overview of American children's book art during the twentieth century. Biographical notes on the artists are provided along with an essay tracing the history of children's publishing in the United States.

"Splendid."- Michael Cart, Booklist
"Fascinating."- Lee Bennett Hopkins, Creative Classroom
"This book is both a handsome catalogue . . . and a veritable who's who of children's literature in the United States. . . . A virtual history of America's changing values and attitudes."
- David Macaulay, New York Times Book Review

"Not only is this a tribute to Book Week a visual feast, it is also a fascinating piece of social history, thanks in large measure to Leonard Marcus's penetrating introduction and perceptive commentaries. . . . A veritable treasure trove, this handsome volume belongs in every collection."
- Mary M. Burns, The Horn Book (starred review)

"In his informative introduction Leonard Marcus provides a brief history of the changing character of American book illustration. . . . Marcus's fact-filled comments on each of the individual pictures and their creators are models of biographical succinctness."
- Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World







   

MOTHER GOOSE'S LITTLE MISFORTUNES
illustrated by Amy Schwartz
(Bradbury, 1990)


When things go wildly wrong in each of these Mother Goose rhymes-some familiar, others sure to be new-the result is sheer fun for readers. With high-spirited illustrations by Amy Schwartz.

"[Among] the finest [nursery rhyme collections] produced for children."
- Anita Silvey, Children's Books and Their Creators

1990 New York Public Library "100 Titles for Reading and Sharing"
1991 USBBY entry, Bratislava Biennale of Illustrations

"A charmingly ideosyncratic selection of 18 nursery rhymes that, as Marcus says in his excellent introduction, 'remind us all of the supreme virtue of being able to laugh at oneself.' . . . Not to be missed."
- Kirkus (pointer review)

"Is there a place on the shelf for yet another compilation of Mother Goose rhymes? The answer can only be yes when the collection is as fresh, well focused, and intelligently chosen as this."
- The Horn Book