#1125 – Balderdash! by Michelle Markel & Nancy Carpenter

Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books
Written by Michelle Markel
Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Chronicle Books  4/04/2017
44 pages   Ages 5—8

Junior Library Guild Selection


“Every page, every picture, and
every word was designed for your pleasure.

“Lucky, lucky reader.

bal◦der◦dash  noun: nonsense, poppycock, malarkey, moonshine, flummery, or bunk.
[PAGE 1]

Themes:  literature, children’s books, publishing
Genre:  nonfiction picture book
Synopsis:  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. Newbery—for whom the prestigious Newbery Medal is named—became a celebrated author and publisher, changing the world of children’s books forever. This book about his life and legacy is as full of energy and delight as any young reader could wish.
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 exuberance of the English readers and all of the imagination and creativity that went into their books—but not for kids.
  • Kids read didactic fare that told them how to act, and not to laugh. Yes, that’s sadly correct. (I don’t really “like” this, but it leads up to something special.)
  • A publisher’s apprentice finally opens his own store and publishes his own books. But this guy, he thinks kids need fun stories, just like the adults. He even published a kid’s magazine for the same reason.
  • You may know his name—John Newbery—thanks to an award in recognition of all his accomplishments and firsts for children’s publishing.
  • I knew nothing about John Newbery, except for the award, and now I do: he was a farm boy, he was self-educated, loved to read, and thought kids needed to play and have fun. He also thought kids should have fun books to read and made sure they got them, permanently changing children’s publishing for the better.
  • Any child who likes to read, who loves books, should have the opportunity to read Balderdash! and meet a real hero—John Newbery.
  • Balderdash! is full of heart and humor, and that’s no poppycock!


  1. Publish a Classroom Book, or Individual Books, with these Four Classroom Edition Programs:
    Student Treasures,  Blurb,  Scribblitt, or KinderArt
  2. PARENTS Enter to Win a Scholastic Level Bookroom for Your School (worth $47,000) HERE. (ends 5/31/2017)

  3. Learn More about John Newbery at Encyclopedia.com

 Find More “Perfect Picture Book Friday” Reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog HERE.

BALDERDASH!: JOHN NEWBERY AND THE BOISTEROUS BIRTH OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS. Text copyright © 2017 by Michelle Markel . Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Nancy Carpenter. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

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Add BALDERDASH! to Your Goodreads Shelf HERE.
Teacher’s Guide is HERE.

.                                                                 NMH F
Illustrations from BALDERDASH!: JOHN NEWBERY AND THE BOISTEROUS BIRTH OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS by Michelle Markel copyright © 2016 by Nancy Carpenter. Used with permission from Chronicle Books.

Copyright © 2017 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books
Junior Library Guild Selection
Written by Michelle Markel
Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Chronicle Books 4/04/2017


19 thoughts on “#1125 – Balderdash! by Michelle Markel & Nancy Carpenter

  1. Pingback: Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books – Beth Anderson, Children's Writer

  2. I love it when we learn something new from a book review. Also couldn’t help laugh at the title as one of my brothers was nicknamed BALDERDASH since he was a kid. 🙂


  3. Oh my gosh, Sue! This is a fab book. It’s brand new and I love it! And I love the title! And the trailer. And your activities/resources! Perfect post, dear lady. 😉


  4. How can you not love a book that has the word, “Balderdash” in the title? This book is definitely on my list. I love the illustrations. Looking forward to reading it. Great review, Sue!


    • Thanks, Robin. KLR’s anniversary is this week. Giving away at least 6 books; one per year. And then there is Children’s Book Week in May, with another book a day. (Those are the plans, but don’t let anyone know. It’s top secret.) You won last year, right? This year, the packages will go out months sooner. 😦 –last year


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