Review: Good Books For Bad Children by Beth Kephart and Chloe Bristol

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Today I want to share a picture book biography I have been anxiously waiting to read for MONTHS. Last year, I had a brilliant idea for a picture book biography, but shortly afterwards discovered someone had already written a book about the subject. These things happen in the world of picture book biographies, but I knew I had to read this one ASAP, because it’s about one of my own personal heroes. Good Books For Bad Children: The Genius of Ursula Nordstrom by Beth Kephart and Chloe Bristol chronicles the life of one of the most influential editors of children’s literature.

Title: Good Books For Bad Children: The Genius of Ursula Nordstrom
Author: Beth Kephart
Illustrator: Chloe Bristol
Publish Date: September 19, 2023
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Format: Picture Book

Though many people don’t know her by name, Ursula Nordstrom is responsible for the books many of us read throughout our childhood. From Goodnight Moon and Where The Wild Things Are to Harold and The Purple Crayon and Harriet The Spy, Ursula Nordstrom’s work has delighted young readers for decades. She ushered in a new era of children’s literature by discovering new talent and embracing realism, as opposed to the didactic stories that were being published.

Good Books For Bad Children captures Ursula’s story in a child friendly format – from her youth hiding from her parent’s rocky marriage in the pages of a book, to her retirement with the woman she loved. But for me, the real magic of this book is the way it captures the impact books can have on us all, especially children. Much like Ursula Nordstrom, Beth Kephart has clearly not forgotten the magic of being a child.

Parents and teachers will love the way Good Books For Bad Children offers young readers a behind-the-scenes look at the most beloved books for children. It gives children a wonderful introduction to the world of publishing, showing how these classic books came to be.

Chloe Bristol’s illustrations pair perfectly with the lyrical prose creating an atmosphere that Ursula would have adored. Chloe is also the illustrator of NONSENSE!, a picture book biography of Edward Gorey, another author Ursula Nordstrom worked with.

Good Books For Bad Children officially releases on September 19th, but you can preorder your copy today. You can pick up a copy wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Penguin Random House for providing me with a review copy of this wonderful book. It will absolutely join my favorites on my shelf of mentor texts, and I know I will revisit it often.

About The Author:

Beth Kephart is a National Book Award finalist and an award-winning author of over thirty books for adults, young adults, and children, including the picture books And I Paint It: Henriette Wyeth’s World and the forthcoming A Room of Your Own: Virginia Woolf and Where We Go to Think, Dream, and Be. She is also a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania and a widely published essayist, with work appearing in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune,, and elsewhere.

About The Illustrator:

Chloe Bristol is the illustrator of Nonsense: The Curious Story of Edward Gorey, which received two starred reviews. She is also a visual development artist for feature animation and has worked on various films, including Mary Poppins Returns.

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