Philip Nel > Courses > English 680: 20th Century American Children's Picturebooks (Fall 2005)

English 680, Sec. B: 20th Century American Children's Picturebooks
Tues. & Thurs. 1:05-2:20 p.m.
Eisenhower 021
Professor Philip Nel
Office Phone: 532-2165
Office: English/Counseling Services Bldg. 103
Office Hours: Tues. 7 - 9 p.m., Thurs. 4 - 5:30 p.m., & by appointment.
Virtual Office Hours:
Syllabus last updated on Sunday, June 18, 2006.
Paper: Undergrads. or Grad. Students | Book Review | Class Presentation | C.P. Schedule | Bulletin board | Resources

Required Texts:

        This course will focus on 20th Century American Children's Picturebooks by examining several themes: (1) The history of American childhood during the 20th century; (2) Context (political, historical, social, biographical, artistic, literary, etc.) for the production of children's books during this period (World War I, Great Depression, World War II, Cold War); (3) The lives of Ruth Krauss (1901-1993, author of The Carrot Seed & A Hole Is to Dig) and Crockett Johnson (1906-1975, author-illustrator of Harold and the Purple Crayon); and (4) the many people with whom their lives intersected -- Maurice Sendak, Ursula Nordstrom (mentor and editor to Sendak, Margaret Wise Brown, Shel Silverstein and E. B. White), Margaret Mead, Lucy Sprague Mitchell, Ad Reinhardt, Syd Hoff, and Dr. Seuss. You must be at least a junior to enroll in this course.
Grading: Undergraduates | Graduate Students




Class Participation



Electronic Bulletin Board 100 Weekly. Grades assigned at midterm, and at end of term.



In class, on day scheduled.



Final, 12/02.

Midterm Exam 150 In class, 10/13.

Final Exam


In class, 12/14, 2:00 - 3:50 p.m.



Graduate Students: 



Class Participation



Electronic Bulletin Board 100 Weekly. Grades assigned at midterm, and at end of term.



In class, on day scheduled.

Book Review


In class, on day scheduled.



Prospectus, 11/15; Final, 12/02.

Midterm Exam 100 In class, 10/13.

Final Exam


In class, 12/14, 2:00 - 3:50 p.m.



Requirements: Class Participation and Attendance | Paper | Presentation | Book Review | Bulletin Board

        Class Participation and Attendance:
        Read everything, and come to class prepared to talk about what you have read. On the first day of class discussion for each assignment, you must have finished the reading and be ready to discuss it. By "the reading," I mean all of the text assigned for that day. This class will be based on discussion, so class participation is expected, and will count for 10% of your final grade. I reserve the right to assign homework or in-class writing projects that are not listed on the syllabus.
        Although it shouldn't be necessary for me to say this, I'll say it anyway: Class attendance is required. Since the class meets twice a week, you are granted two absences, but more than two will lower your final grade by one grade for each absence (e.g., B would become C). You cannot earn credit for work missed in class. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to discover what went on that day.
        Paper: Undergraduates | Graduate Students
        The paper must: be typed (preferably word-processed) and double-spaced; include a title, your name, and the date; and have numbered pages that are stapled or paper-clipped together. Late papers will be penalized one grade (e.g., B+ to C+) for each day late. For a full description of the paper assignment for undergraduates and the paper assignment for graduate students, please click on the relevant words in this sentence.
        Sources: Use the MLA method for documenting sources. Don't plagiarize. When you turn in a paper, you pledge that you have faithfully abided by the guidelines for documenting sources -- most grammar handbooks provide guidelines for documentation. Always remember: you must cite the sources of any ideas that are not your own. If you quote, paraphrase, or use another's ideas, you must give credit to the person whose ideas you are using. If you have any questions, please ask. If you plagiarize, you will automatically fail this course. For more information on Kansas State University's Honor System, please visit <>.
        Groups of students will sign up to present some contextual material for one of our class sessions. Follow the links below for details:
Students must meet with me in advance to confirm the focus of their presentation.
        Book Review (Graduate Students):
        Please note that this assignment is for graduate students only. Undergraduates can ignore this particular assignment.
        Electronic Bulletin Board:
        Post comments to the bulletin board once a week. An average posting should run about two paragraphs in length. In other words, your postings need to be substantive -- long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments, as appropriate. The strong bulletin board postings will be clearly written, support their claims with evidence (such as a quotation), and will cite their sources. I will monitor these discussions and assess grades -- once at midterm, and once at the end of the term -- based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness to both our readings and to your classmates' comments in class and on the bulletin board. You may respond to an existing thread of the conversation or initiate another. I may participate in these conversations, but I see the bulletin board primarily as a way for you to raise issues we haven't addressed -- or addressed fully or to your satisfaction -- during our regular class meetings. Though extra postings to the bulletin board will not automatically replace participation in our class discussions, regular contributions above and beyond your weekly posting can certainly improve your class participation grade.
        How to use the bulletin board:
  1. First, click on this sentence. If you receive a message like "Authorization Failed. Retry?" then click on "Retry."
  2. A window will pop up, asking for your username. Type engl680b. (Be sure to use all lower-case letters.) Next, type in the password that I gave you in class.
  3. To see all the messages posted to date starting with the newest ones first, click on "Preferences" and set the options to "12 months" and "Mixed Threaded, Reversed." Click on the "View Messages Index" button. You should be able to see all the messages posted to the threaded bulletin board. (If a grey box pops up with the title "Security Information," just click "OK.")
  4. To post, choose to reply to a message or to post a new message. You will have to enter your name, your email address, and the subject of the message. You can preview your message before sending it; then, click "Post Message."
        A note on email: My email address is Please use the subject line. Due to the increased volume of spam, messages without clear subject lines will be deleted unread. If you need help establishing an email account and learning to use email, please visit the Office of Telecommunications at 109 East Stadium or <> to find out what you have to do. Although I do not require you to use email, I encourage you to use email as a way of touching base with me. You can write me with questions, send a thesis statement or outline for an essay, make an appointment to meet me in person, or do anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I tend to check email several times a day, but please keep in mind that I am not on-line at all times. You can access email at the various computer labs around campus: 21 Nichols Hall, 22-25 Seaton Hall, 1-1A Dickens Hall, and 325 Justin Hall and in some residence halls (visit <> for more details).

Schedule of Assignments
Subject to Change
[W] = Web. [CP] = Class Pack. [R] = On Reserve (at Hale Library).
"Marcus" refers to Leonard S. Marcus' Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordsrom.

Introduction: Words, Pictures, Contexts


Tu 23

Introduction. Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand, illus. Robert Lawson (1936).



Th 25

Hugh Cunningham, "Saving the Children, c. 1830-c. 1920" from Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500 (1995); William Moebius, "Introduction to Picturebook Codes" (1986) [both CP]; Molly Bang, Picture This (2000).

Tu 30

Helen Bannerman, Little Black Sambo (1899); Peter Newell, The Hole Book (1908) [both R]; Michelle Martin, "'Hey, Who's the Kid with the Green Umbrella?': A Reevaluation of Little Black Sambo and the Black-a-moor," from Brown Gold: Milestones of African-American Children's Picture Books, 1845-2002 (2004) [CP].



Th 1

Margery Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit, illus. William Nicholson (1922) [R]; Wanda Gag, Millions of Cats (1928); item 3 in Class Pack (on Wanda Gág) [CP].



Tu 6

Marjorie Flack, The Story About Ping, illus. Kurt Wiese (1930); Claire Huchet Bishop, The Five Chinese Brothers, illus. Kurt Wiese (1938) [both R]; Selma Berrol, "Immigrant Children at School, 1880-1940: A Child's Eye View," from Elliott West & Paula Petrik, eds., Small Worlds: Children and Adolescents in America, 1850-1950 (1992) [CP].

Th 8

Lois Lenski, The Little Auto (1934); Margaret Wise Brown, The Little Fireman, illus. Esphyr Slobodkina (1938) [both R].


Tu 13

Hugh Cunningham, "The Century of the Child," from Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500 (1995) [CP]; Dr. Seuss, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937); Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline (1939) [both R].

Th 15

Louis Menand, "Preface" to American Studies (2002) [CP]; Marcus, xvii-xlii.


September 24st through October 1st is Banned Books Week (sponsored by the American Library Association). Learn more about Challenged and Banned Books by visiting the website.



Tu 20

H. A. and Margret Rey, Curious George (1941); Margret Rey, Spotty, illus. H. A. Rey (1945) [R]; June Cummins, "The Resisting Monkey: 'Curious George,' Slave Captivity Narratives, and the Postcolonial Condition," ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 28.1 (Jan. 1997), pp. 69-83 [CP].

Th 22

Esphyr Slobodkina, Caps for Sale (1940); Robert McCloskey, Make Way for Ducklings (1941); Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches the Egg (1941); Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House (1942); Marcus, the chapter on McCloskey from A Caldecott Celebration [all R].


Tu 27

Little Golden Books: Dorothy Kunhardt, Pat the Bunny (1940); Janette Sebring Lowrey, The Poky Little Puppy, illus. Gustaf Tenggren (1942); Gertrude Crampton, Scuffy the Tugboat, illus. Tibor Gergely (1946) [all R].

Th 29

Ruth Krauss, The Carrot Seed, illus. Crockett Johnson (1945); Charles Shaw, It Looked Like Spilt Milk (1947) [R]; Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon, illus. Clement Hurd (1947); Marcus, pp. 7, 12-14, 20.




Tu 4

Ruth Krauss, A Hole Is to Dig (1952) and A Very Special House (1953) [R], both illus. Maurice Sendak; Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955); Marcus, pp. 36-42, 46-47, 60-61, 68-74, 83-84, 183-185.

Th 6

Meet in Rare Books (5th Floor of Hale Library). Charles E. Strickland and Andrew M. Ambrose, "The Baby Boom, Prosperity, and the Changing Worlds of Children, 1945-1963," from Joseph M. Hawes and N. Ray Hiner, eds., American Childhood: A Research Guide and Handbook (1985) [CP]. William S. Gray and May Hill Arbuthnot, Fun with Dick and Jane [We will read this over at Rare Books].


Tu 11

Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat (1957), The Cat in the Hat Comes Back (1958) [R]; Else Holmelund Minarik, Little Bear, illus. Sendak (1957) [R]; Syd Hoff, Danny and the Dinosaur (1958) [R]; Marcus, pp. 88-89, 103-111, 298.

Th 13

Midterm Exam.


Tu 18

Kay Thompson, Eloise, illus. Hilary Knight (1955); Dare Wright, The Lonely Doll (1957) [both R]; Jean Nathan, from Chapter 7, "The Books," The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright (2004) [CP].



Th 20

Eve Merriam, Mommies at Work, illus. Beni Montresor (1961); Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day (1962); John Steptoe, Stevie (1969) [all R]; Marcus, pp. 239-241, 244, 249-251, 256-257, 266-267, 279.


Tu 25

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are (1963); Leo Lionni, Swimmy (1963) [R] and Frederick (1967); Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969) [R]; Marcus, pp. 145-148, 153-157, 162-163, 165-168, 183-185.

Th 27

Edward Gorey, The Gashlycrumb Tinies (1963); Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree (1964); Mercer Mayer, A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog (1967) [all R]; Marcus, pp. 264-265.



Tu 1

Tomi Ungerer, Moon Man (1967); William Steig, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (1969); Harve Zemach, The Judge, illus. Margot Zemach (1969) [all R].



Th 3

Maurice Sendak, In the Night Kitchen (1970); Tomie de Paola, Strega Nona (1975); Verna Aardema, Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale, illus. Leo and Diane Dillon (1977) [all R]; Marcus, 293, 326, 333-335.

Tu 8

James Marshall, George and Martha (1972), Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Are Friends (1970); Muriel Feelings, Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book, illus. Tom Feelings (1971) [all R].


Th 10

Charlotte Zolotow, William's Doll, illus. William Pene DuBois (1972); Donald Crews, Freight Train (1978); Rachel Isadora, Ben's Trumpet (1979) [all R]; Marcus, pp. 321-322, 328-329.


Tu 15

Vera B. Williams, A Chair for My Mother (1982); Arthur Yorinks, Hey Al, illus. Richard Egielski (1986); Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, illus. Lois Elhert (1989); Chris Van Allsburg, Jumanji (1981) [all R]. Paper Prospectus DUE in class (graduate students only).


Th 17

Chris Van Allsburg, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984); William Steig, Yellow and Pink (1984); Ann Jonas, Round Trip (1983); Jon Agee, The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau (1988) [all R]; Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf (1989) and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1991) [R]; Jon Scieszka, "Design Matters," Horn Book (Mar. 1998), pp. 197-208 [CP].


Tu 22

No class: Work on your paper.

Th 24




Tu 29

David Wiesner, Tuesday (1991); Istvan Banyai, Zoom (1995); Barbara McClintock, The Fantastic Drawings of Danielle (1996); Peggy Rathmann, Goodnight Gorilla (1994) [all R].


Th 1

Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach (1991); Allen Say, Grandfather's Journey (1993) [R]; Peter Sís, Starry Messenger (1996) [R].

F 2

Paper DUE in my office (E/CS 103) by 12 noon.


Tu 6

Chris Raschka, Charlie Parker Played Be-Bop (1992) and Yo! Yes? (1993); Christopher Myers, Black Cat (1999); Julius Lester, Sam and the Tigers, illus. Jerry Pinkney (1996) [all R].

Th 8

Conclusion and Review.


W 14

Final Exam, 2:00-3:50 p.m.
You must take the final exam on the day and at the time scheduled.


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