Tuesday, April 23, 2024 -
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Denver book treasure

I can’t believe it. There is a children’s book series set in Denver, Colorado, but until a couple of weeks ago I’d never heard of it.

Not only am I a huge fan of children’s literature, I particularly like nostalgic family-oriented series, which this one is.

Even more: The books were originally published by Thomas Crowell, publisher of my beloved Betsy-Tacy series. Although there is no credit for the Malone folio illustration, I’m near certain it’s by Vera Neville, who illustrated all the later Betsy-Tacy titles.

My mind boggles at this gap in my bibliography.

Have you guessed the Denver series title yet? It’s “Beany Malone” by local author Lenora Mattingly Weber.

I just finished the first in the series, “Meet the Malones.” Something that struck me is how every generation seems to think the generation that follows just doesn’t hold up.

The Malones are a family with an open door. Father Martie Malone is a highly seasoned journalist who naturally knows people across Denver, one of them being the curmudgeon, down-and-out newspaperman Emerson Worth. Here is a case of nominative determinism if there ever was one. Worth’s favorite saying is courtesy of his namesake, Ralph Waldo: “The highest price you can pay for a thing is to get it for nothing.”

Worth is also a self-appointed early Denver historian, and “he believed that the men, women, and children of those early days were of sturdier stuff than the people of the present. And he resented it because these same weaklings of today weren’t even interested in hearing about the lusty giants who moved through those lusty old days.”

The book opens up just after Pearl Harbor. Deeply troubled about world news, Worth comments: “It’s the people of today. They want to get things the easy way.”

The Malone kids — keep in mind, they are part of what we now refer to as “The Greatest Generation”! — roll their eyes in response. Sure puts the current “OK, boomer” kerfuffle into perspective.

Some things never change.

Shana Goldberg may be reached at [email protected]

Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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IJN Assistant Publisher | [email protected]

8 thoughts on “Denver book treasure

  1. Dixie Lee

    Shana, are you aware of the second Weber/Denver series, the Belden books? It begins with “The Winds of March” and moves the story into the Boomer generation!

  2. Carla Kozak

    Hi—I am a huge fan of Maud Hart Lovelace, and Lenora Mattingly Weber. I don’t think the Weber illustrations were Neville’s, but the two authors shared an editor at TY Crowell. I met her at a Betsy-Tacy Convention in 1997 (she was the keynote speaker); she was near 90 at the time, and a wonderful storyteller. I will need to check her full name. You will love reading the Malone and Belford books.

    1. Jen D-K

      Shana, thanks for this fun article! My copy of “Meet the Malones” says the illustrator is Gertrude Howe – is that not who did the folio? Carla, the editor you’re thinking of is Elizabeth Riley. I didn’t know that she was also Weber’s editor – fun connection!

      1. Avatar photoShana Goldberg Post author

        The copy I read had only a folio illustration, which to me said Vera Neville. I wish I had taken a screenshot. I’ll have to see as I get deeper into the series.

        The cover illustration was definitely not original, and had a 1970s look.


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