Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way

Overview

THE YEAR 2007 marks the 65th anniversary of a bold experiment: the launch of the Little Golden Books during the dark days of World War II. At a time when the literacy rate was not nearly as high as it is now - and privation was felt by nearly all - quality books for children would now be available at a price nearly everyone could afford (25 cents), and sold where ordinary people shopped. Golden Legacy is a lively history of a company, a line of books, the groundbreaking writers and artists who created them, the ...
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Overview

THE YEAR 2007 marks the 65th anniversary of a bold experiment: the launch of the Little Golden Books during the dark days of World War II. At a time when the literacy rate was not nearly as high as it is now - and privation was felt by nearly all - quality books for children would now be available at a price nearly everyone could afford (25 cents), and sold where ordinary people shopped. Golden Legacy is a lively history of a company, a line of books, the groundbreaking writers and artists who created them, the clever mavericks who marketed and sold them, and the cultural landscape that surrounded them.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review, The New York Times Book Review, November 11, 2007:
"The book includes a wonderful selection of archival photos and artwork that convey the depth and breadth of the creative talent working there in those early years."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, December 2007:
"This winning combination of nostalgia and clear-eyed, meticulously researched history breaks new ground, and should have broad appeal."

Elizabeth Spires
Leonard Marcus's research is rich and exhaustive, and the story he tells is a good one, if at times just a bit too celebratory—perhaps to be expected, since Golden Books itself is the publisher of this detailed portrait of its history. The book includes a wonderful selection of archival photographs and artwork that convey the depth and breadth of the creative talent working there in those early years. After reading Golden Legacy, some readers might be spurred on to find some of the best Little Golden Books they missed as children.
—The New York Times
Children's Literature - Denise Daley
This fascinating book provides an in-depth exploration into the creation and growth of the extraordinarily popular "Little Golden" books. It all began in the early 1900s when a young German American named Edward H. Wadewitz opened a print shop. The business struggled until the young man and his partners, by default, came upon a shipment of children's books. Intrigued, Wadewitz became a publisher. His keen sense of ingenuity led to a new line of novelty books that were based on comic book characters such as Little Orphan Annie. These Big Little Books became increasingly popular, especially with younger readers. Eventually, and with great involvement and collaboration, the "Little Golden Books" were developed. From the early 1940s until the late 1980s, the "Little Golden Books" were fun, colorful books that were affordable. The variety of characters, themes, authors, and illustrators offered something for everyone. Although the "Little Golden Books" succumbed to competitors in the early part of the 21st century, the "Little Golden Books" legacy continues. The lack of headings and the pain-staking attention to detail make this book very involved but fortunately, the abundance of photographs add enormous appeal and help to chronicle this phenomenal children's series. Reviewer: Denise Daley
School Library Journal

The Little Golden Books began as a unique experiment in publishing for children, combining entertainment, commercialism, licensing, and mass marketing with entertainment and education. In this lavishly illustrated, handsomely designed volume, Marcus presents a complete history of these books, starting with the 1910 founding of Western Printing in Racine, WI, and ending with the sale of Golden Books to Random House in 2001. The author unearths some startling facts. For example, Janette Sebring Lowrey received a $75 flat fee for writing The Pokey Little Puppy (Golden Bks., 1942), a consistent best seller. Golden Legacy is informed by the author's many past interviews with children's literature professionals and his broad knowledge of publishing in the last half of the 20th century, particularly that segment in conflict with the library/literary establishment. Marcus's general tone is as admiring as his subtitle, with little space or credence offered to the many contemporary detractors of Golden Books. Each chapter concludes with a celebratory personal reminiscence concerning one Golden Book title or artist. The highly readable narrative is documented with thorough and detailed footnotes. Because all bibliographic information is embedded in the footnotes, with the first citation the only complete one, readers and researchers who follow the notes from random places in the text will be frustrated by the lack of a separate bibliography. This winning combination of nostalgia and clear-eyed, meticulously researched history breaks new ground, and should have broad appeal.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"To me, they are like this big lump of warmth. They were my friends! . . . I loved those little cardboard covers . . . And of course, that little strip of gold." So says author/illustrator William Joyce about Golden Books in this treasure of a history. The Poky Little Puppy, the bestselling picture book of all time, was published in 1942 by Simon & Schuster as one of 12 Little Golden Books in a joint venture with the publishing arm of Wisconsin's Western printing company. This new line was a bold, controversial experiment in mass-marketing-to produce quality children's books and sell them for 25 cents each. In this painstakingly researched but nonetheless sprightly volume that commemorates the brand's 65th anniversary, eminent children's-book historian Marcus tells the truly fascinating, multifaceted tale of the gutsy entrepreneurs behind Golden Books; their business strategies; their profitable licensing agreements with Disney and others; their librarian foes; and of course, the many renowned authors and illustrators who contributed their talents. (Several interviews with contemporary illustrators shed more light on old favorites.) Crisply presented full-color reproductions of Golden covers and interiors abound, and historical photographs bring the grand drama's players to life. An irresistible feast, especially catnip-like for children's-book history buffs. (foreword by Eric Carle, miscellaneous appendices, notes, acknowledgments, index) (Nonfiction. Adult)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375829963
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/23/2007
  • Series: Deluxe Golden Book Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 198,657
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.11 (w) x 10.13 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Leonard S. Marcus has written many award-winning books, including Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon. A frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, The Horn Book, and Publishers Weekly, Marcus's book reviews have been featured in every issue of Parenting magazine since it was founded in 1987. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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