Books for the News

NBCC awards to be handed out this week

jacket imageThe National Book Critics Circle will announce its awards this Thursday. Among the many distinguished books and authors nominated—Roberto Bolaño, Marilynne Robinson, Dexter Filkins included—our own Seth Lerer and his book Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter is up for best book in literary criticism. Charting the makings of the Western literary imagination from Aesop’s fables to Mother Goose, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Peter Pan, from Where the Wild Things Are to Harry Potter, Lerer explores the iconic books, ancient and contemporary alike, that have forged a lifelong love of literature in young readers during their formative years.
Since its publication in June 2008, Lerer’s book has received heaps of glowing critical praise. A starred review in Library Journal noted “Lerer has accomplished something magical. Unlike the many handbooks to children’s literature that synopsize, evaluate, or otherwise guide adults in the selection of materials for children, this work presents a true critical history of the genre.&hellilp; Scholarly, erudite, and all but exhaustive, it is also entertaining and accessible. Lerer takes his subject seriously without making it dull.” The San Francisco Chronicle raves “Lerer’s history reminds us of the wealth of literature written during the past 2,600 years.… With his vast and multidimensional knowledge of literature, he underscores the vital role it plays in forming a child’s imagination. We are made, he suggests, by the books we read.” And on Critical Mass, the blog of the NBCC, board member Carlin Romano described the fairy-tale-like spell Lerer’s book cast on the committee: “Members of the NBCC Board swallowed whole this splendid meditation on the literature that changes us most, and lived happily ever after.”
For more on Lerer and his book, read an excerpt from the book or check out this profile from the San Diego Union Tribune. And please join us in congratulating Professor Lerer on this honor. We wish him much luck on Thursday!