The Essential Guide to Children’s Books and Their Creators

The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their CreatorsThe Essential Guide to Children’s Books and Their Creators edited by Anita Silvey. Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2002. 542 pages.

This reference work collects all the basic important facts about children’s books. The editor makes use of the knowledge and contacts she developed in her thirty years working in children’s book publishing and as the editor of Horn Book Magazine to assemble all the highlights of the field.

The book consists of almost 500 short essays of three types. The largest number of essays are biographies of major authors and illustrators from Margaret Wise Brown and William Pene du Bois to Jack Gantos and Louis Sachar, with emphasis on their most important books. The “Voices of the Creators” section contains 30 essays by authors and illustrators such as Marion Dane Bauer and Robert Cormier about their craft. Lastly, there are quick overviews of the major genres of children’s books such as alphabet books and sports stories, and overviews of major issues in children’s books such as book awards, review sources and books in series.

This book is a revised and updated version of Children’s Books and Their Creators, published in 1995.

For anyone just beginning to work with children’s books this is a wonderful introduction to core knowledge. For those who have been in the library field for years, it is a handy reference book, spiced up with author information you may not know and the thought-provoking insights of the “Voices of the Creators”.

– Bob Sibert