Books: A Lively, Profitable World of Kid Lit

Stories to please critics who neither fake laughs nor suppress yawns

In 1700 a new kind of volume appeared in New England: A Token for Children. The subtitle of America's first juvenile book was less inviting—Being an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children.

In the intervening centuries, the very young remained much the same: still struck with wonder, jubilation and fear. It is children's books that have changed.

Once upon a time, those works were below the eye level of publishers as well as buyers....

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