Dear Genius: the Letters of Ursula Nordstrom

Dear GeniusDear Genius: the Letters of Ursula Nordstrom. Collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus. Published by HarperCollins, 1998. 406 pp.

Ursula Nordstrom, director of Harper’s Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940 to 1973, has become a legend in the publishing world. In response to the national movement for specialized service to children at public libraries, many major publishing houses established children’s departments and thus her position evolved. Working with such authors as Maurice Sendak, E. B. White, Margaret Wise Brown, Shel Silverstein, Garth Williams, Crockett Johnson, and Charlotte Zolotow, she demanded the best from them and recognized each as a genius to be nurtured. Children’s literature scholar Marcus has compiled a fine selection of her letters, always witty, innovative and direct; she pleads, cajoles, and praises in order to elicit the best from her authors. Archival photographs complement the letters which provide an insight into her vision for editing children’s books destined to become classics.

– Sharon Zuiderveld