I just got home from hearing Leonard Marcus, author of Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children's Literature, and other books, give a talk on the history of children's book publishing in America. A theme of his talk was the tension throughout the twentieth century between books eagerly consumed by children, and produced to be sold in large and inexpensive quantities to them, and books that are held dear and promoted because of more lofty sentiments about quality literature. He concluded his talk with a brief discussion of Harry Potter, an outstanding exemplar of the former tradition.
Is it coincidence, I wonder, that the latest round of Newbery Award kerfuffle coincides with the dawn of the post Harry era?
An audience member asked whether English books were being brought here to the US in large quantities anymore. He thought not so much--that the traffic these days, especially in picture books, is in the other direction. I am now wondering about this myself. Any thoughts?
I asked my own rather brazen question, as a postscript to a more thoughtful comment--who did he think would win the Newbery this year? His favorite contender--Masterpiece
by Elise Broach.