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A pretty little pocket-book was published in 1744 by John Newbery in London, one of over thirty books for children eventually created by his publishing business. The American Library Association’s Newbery Medal is awarded to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”

Title page from US edition of A Pretty Little Pocket-book (1787) [Public domain]

Title page from US edition of A Pretty Little Pocket-book (1787) [Public domain]

The full title is A Little pretty pocket book, intended for the instruction and amusement of little master Tommy and pretty Miss Polly: with two letters from Jack the Giant-killer: as also a ball and pincushion; the use of which will infallibly make Tommy a good boy, and Polly a good girl.

They were attractive books, small with decorated covers. The original measured 4″ x 2.5″, and came with the free gifts mentioned above:  a ball for boys and a pin-cushion for girls (sexism being alive and well in 18th century London).

Illustrated with woodcuts, the book included an alphabet, verses about children’s games (first published use of the word ‘baseball’), fables, letters from Jack the Giant Killer and lists of rules for behaving properly. It was still instructional, but was also entertaining.

John Newbery also published The history of Goody Two-shoes (1765), which subtlely managed to advertise Dr James’ Fever Powders (another of Newbery’s businesses). Goody is an unright and moral person who is eventually rewarded for her behaviour by marrying a rich man, a common outcome in 18th century literature.


A pretty little pocket-book, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Little_Pretty_Pocket-book. Accessed 8th November 2015

A pretty little pocket-book, http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/a-pretty-little-pocket-book. Accessed 8th November 2015


Did John Newbery publish the very first Mother Goose? Published 1780?