During the early part of the twentieth century, children’s book publishing grew from an afterthought to a vital and integral part of publishing in the United States. Editor May Massee was an important change agent in this process. May Massee created and served as the head of children’s publishing divisions at both Doubleday and Viking. Her publishing career spanned the years 1922-1963. During that time, Massee edited 930 children’s books of which 122, or 13% remain in print. Her books earned ten Newbery Medals and six Caldecott Medals, the prestigious awards given by the American Library Association recognizing distinguished contributions to children’s literature. .
Known for innovation in design and content, May Massee picture books are distinctive and often groundbreaking. Though she was responsible for editing hundreds of books, this paper focuses on the six touchstone picture books of Massee’s career. They are:
• The ABC Book by C.B. Falls (1922)
• The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack, illustrated by Kurt Wiese (1933)
• The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson (1936)
• The Story of a Baby by Marie Hall Ets (1939)
• Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (1941)
• Hezekiah Horton by Ellen Terry, illustrated by (1942)
Each of these books had a unique, far-reaching, and lasting impact on American children’s book publishing. The story behind these books, the editorial process, the relationship between the creators and editor, and their contribution to children’s literature will be explored. Each of the titles will be examined in an historical context with emphasis on their legacy to the world of children’s publishing.
|Keywords:||Children’s Books, Children’s Literature, Book Publishing|
Assistant Professor, School Library & Information Science Program of the School of Education, University of Houston Clear Lake, Houston, Texas, USA
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