How have I lived this long without knowing the story of the “real” Little Goody Two-Shoes? Apparently, she was a raggedy little girl who always bettered herself despite misfortunes. And of course, she ended up with a rich husband who had a coach and six. Holy cats! Why didn’t anyone tell me this?
Calling someone a goody two-shoes was still quite a popular way to taunt nerdy girls in my youth, although it was directed less at the smarts of the girl in question and more at being a rule-follower of any kind. All kinds of things stay hidden in the back of your brain for years, and I never thought to look into where that particular taunt came from.
Then, today, I was zipping through an awesome new picture book about John Newbery, and there she was! John Newbery published some of the first books specifically written for children, including The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes. No one’s sure who wrote the book, but it was a hit, and Newbery went on to publish many other children’s books. Some 150 years later, his name was the one attached to the American Library Association’s Newbery Medal — to recognize the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children each year. And while this book, despite excellent illustrations and a fun story, might not seem like the first thing a kid would pick out, it’s got a lot of discussion starters and eye candy for slightly older kids, especially those who love learning about history and books. And now I can think about that childhood teasing in a whole new way, too. Nicely done.