Art, Books, Reviews

Balderdash: A Wonderful Word and A Delightful Book

Today’s post is not balderdash, but all about balderdash… the word, the book, and well, just a little bit about the game as well!

The Word


Noun: senseless, stupid, or exaggerated talk or writing; nonsense. Obsolete. a muddled mixture of liquors.

So it means nonsensical talk or text. The word appears in the 16th century to refer to a mish-mash of liquors. Over time, and by the second half of the 17th century, it came to mean a senseless jumble of words.

The origin of the word balderdash is not clear. Some think it came from the Welsh baldorddus, meaning idle noisy talk or chatter; while many others point to various different languages. In the end, it could all just be balderdash! You can also check out this article I enjoyed about the origins of , well, balderdash.

So that was the word itself! Isn’t it a wonderful word? I think so… It seems like one of those words where you know what it means the moment you see it or read it out loud or simply hear it.

If you loved this word, you might enjoy this list of 50 words that I think should be used more…

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The Book


Book Info


Title: Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books
Author: Michelle Markel
Illustrator: Nancy Carpenter 
Length: 44 pages (4 – 8 years, and up)
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction/Literary Biographies
Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 4, 2017)

My Thoughts

What It Is (excerpted from Goodreads)

This rollicking and fascinating picture book biography chronicles the life of the first pioneer of children’s books—John Newbery himself.

The How (I Felt)

Balderdash! is delightful!

  • Whether it is the peppy, easy-to-read narrative style
  • or the varied use of fonts and styles (including old-fashioned ones to lend a sense of the times)
  • and of course, the lively, quirky, and colorful mixed-media illustrations,

each of these things makes Balderdash, as I mentioned earlier, a delight to read. They lend to the enjoyment of reading this book, and effectively reflect Newbery’s passion for books and his commitment to his work.

The font styles and sizes add a playfulness to the text, and provide emphasis. Carpenter adds touches of fun and whimsy throughout, for example, some pages show up as slightly turned at one corner to indicate a page below (actually, related information).

I loved discovering that Newbery, in addition to being a writer and publisher, was also a truly clever and creative marketing guy! From selling toys with books, to selling a patented fever powder, he did it all.

Backmatter includes additional interesting information about Newbery and his life; as well as mention of the books mentioned in this book along with further reading resources, articles, and a bibliography. So don’t skip it.

Perfect Pairing

We could read Goody Two-Shoes publised by Newbery over here at Gutenberg, or the first book he published, titled A Little Pretty Pocket Book over here.

In Summary

A truly enjoyable, easy-to-understand, and engaging read for all kid-lit (well, book) lovers, and a visual treat as well. So definitely go ahead and read it for yourself!

Get It Here

Book Depository ||  IndieBound || Bookshop

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Balderdash: A Wonderful Word and A Delightful Book

Some More Stuff (Not Balderdash!)

The Man, the Awards, the Game, and….

While there have been children’s books certainly before John Newbery came into picture (intended use), one cannot deny that the efforts he put into publishing books specifically for children made a huge impact in the world of books. Here are a couple of articles I enjoyed that talk more about this:

  • I came across an article about John Newbery that I truly enjoyed over at Medium by Valerie Petersen. You can read it for yourself here.
  • Another article is titled The origins of children’s literature, and totally interesting to read as well. You can also view photos of early children’s books (including those published by Newbery) here.

And of course, the Newbery Medal was named after him.

Then there is the game! Have you played Balderdash? While I don’t have it myself, I recall playing it with friends many times (though it was years ago) and totally having a blast with it.

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear reader, have you read this book? Or any other book about John Newbery or about children’s books that you loved and would love to recommend? Do let me know. I would also love to hear your thoughts on this post.

16 thoughts on “Balderdash: A Wonderful Word and A Delightful Book

  1. balderdash is a word I haven’t heard in ages, I don’t know why as it is a rather fun word to say and hear. You find the coolest stuff to blog about and always spark a memory or interesting thought before I leave your page.

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