Archive for the ‘Childrens and YA’ Category

Oh My!
Manuscripts Are Falling
Out of the Sky!

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 9.53.43 AMIt seems manuscripts are turning up all over. On the heels of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman comes the news that a few new Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) books have been found as well. The newly discovered What Pet Should I Get? (Random House Books for Young Readers; July 28, 2015; ISBN 9780553524260) is receiving the most attention right now, but Geisel’s wife and his long time secretary announced yesterday that they also found material for at least two other books as they were cleaning out Geisel’s office.Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 9.58.20 AM

The New York Times reports that What Pet Should I Get?, believed to have been written between 1952 and 1962, features the same characters as the beloved One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

Ron Charles, book reviewer for The Washington Post, composed a poem in tongue-in-cheek disbelief.

Chat with Elise Primavera, Feb. 18

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
Live Blog Live Chat with Elise Primavera, MS. RAPSCOTT’S GIRLS
 

Trust the Process!

Friday, February 6th, 2015

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The 2015 Newbery Committee filed into the packed hall at Chicago’s McCormick Convention Center on Monday morning wearing t-shirts that proclaimed “Trust the Process.”

This is a profession not prone to trusting the process (as you’ll know if you’ve ever been through an ALA Council meeting) and there’s inevitably a lot of second-guessing after the awards are announced.

But I have to say that I do trust the Awards process. I trust that Children’s and Young Adult librarians KNOW the criteria. We “get” what a distinguished book is. We listen to all the discussions and read all of the reviews and read and read and read. Then, in our heart of hearts we wish, we pray, we hope. Is it any wonder that on the morning the awards are announced, we scream, we whoop and we cry?

My personal reactions to the Newbery and Caldecott winners, below.

John Newbery Medal

97805441077179781490627571_1beabThe Crossover, Kwame Alexander, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, (also a Coretta Scott King Honor Book)

It was easy for me to “trust the process” in this case because I love this book. In the video below, Kate DiCamillo, last year’s winner, and I picked our favorite books, new and old, to read aloud for a film that went to Paris for the IFLA conference. I sprung my ARC of  Crossover on Kate, because I couldn’t get enough of its engaging sustained voice and juicy language that begs to be read aloud. An added benefit is its high interest subject matter. The conversation we had was organic, not scripted and illustrated how great books bring us joy (pick it up at time stamp 21:43. Note: the galley cover shown in the video is different from the final).

John Newbery Honor Books

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El Deafo, Cece Bell, Abrams/ Amulet

I think I was screaming the loudest when this book was announced. I have been an evangelist for “graphic format” or comics and am thrilled that one of the best books of 2014,  comic or otherwise was recognized. The text is a cross between Judy Blume and Baby Mouse with a little Joan Bauer thrown in. Its a school story, a friendship story, a family story about a girl who just happens to be deaf.

Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson, Penguin/Nancy Paulsen (also winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award, a Sibert Honor and of the National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature).

Not sure there is much to more to be said about Brown Girl Dreaming as it leaves with a Coretta Scott King Award, a Sibert honor as well as a Newbery honor after already winning the National Book Award. The only negative is that all those shiny seals now obscure the exquisite cover. On each reading it is richer with meaning and the story strengthens like tempered steel.

Randolph Caldecott Medal

9780316199988_47010The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, Dan Sentat, Hachette/Little, Brown

Some thought this was the dark horse of the group (the only best books list it appeared on was NPR’s), but it’s been on my “best pile” all year. It is a great read aloud with subtle humor and compelling illustrations. Dan Santat has brought a sweet but not saccharine child-centered world to life. It was a big year for great picture books (six honors!), making this a thrilling AND unexpected surprise.

Caldecott Honor Books

9781596437746This One Summer, Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki, Macmillan/First Second

I am huge fan of this author/ illustrator team since Skim (Groundwood, 2010), came out. A coming-of-age graphic novel with mature content, Skim made the Bank Street Best Books of the Year list by the “skin of its teeth” due to passionate advocacy in the face of some opinions that the content was too mature for our audience of fourteen and under.

There IS going to be controversy regarding this title. It DOES have mature content. The Caldecott Committee selected it as one of the best illustrated books of the year. There is an assumption that “picture book” is defined as an illustrated book that is 32 pages long and for elementary school students, but the Award is for a book “for children”and  ALSC’s “scope of services” is ages 0 to 14. This book isn’t for every kid in that age range but it certainly is relevant for some. I trust the process.

And as I look at the rest of Caldecott Honors, there is not one that doesn’t make my heart doesn’t swell as I imagine gathering them in my arms and sharing them with children.

Nana in the City, Lauren Castillo, HMH/Clarion

The Noisy Paint BoxThe Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, Mary GrandPre, Barb Rosenstock, RH/Knopf

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, Jon Klassen, Mac Barnett, Candlewick

Viva Frida, Yuyi Morales, Macmillan/Roaring Book Press, (also the winner of the ALA Pura Belpré Illustrator Award)

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, Melissa Sweet, Jen Bryant, Eerdmans  (also the winner of the ALA Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award)

Graphic Novels Score with Youth Media Awards

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

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Graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier tweeted her excitement about today’s ALA Youth Media Awards,  “Graphic novels can win the most distinguished American book award, it’s official. The game is ON. I am so happy.”

Graphic novels have won major ALA awards before (Brian Selznick won the 2008 Caldecott Medal for The Invention of Hugo Cabret), this is the first year that  one graphic novel took home both a Caldecott and Printz Honor. This One Summer, by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, (Macmillan/First Second), is a graphic novel, qualifying it as a “picture book for children” (Caldecott).  Since it is written for children ages 12 to 18, it also qualifies as a young adult title (Printz). In addition, El Deafo, by Cece Bell, (Abrams/Amulet) won a Newbery Honor.

Even more significant, just months after the formation of the We Need Diverse Books campaign, the medalists and honorees represent a wide range of backgrounds.

Emma Watson is BEAUTY

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Disney’s live-action musical of Beauty and the Beast has found its Belle; Emma Watson, who began her movie career at age eleven playing Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, has signed on for the lead.

9780062290366_9a172It is set to be directed by  Stephen Chbosky, who also directed Watson in the adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, (S&S/MTV Books, 2012).

No news on whether she is still committed to star in Warner Brothers’ adaptation of Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (Harper, July, 2014).

 

RA Alert: Children’s Books
Make A Move

Monday, January 26th, 2015

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Librarians who regularly look at Amazon’s daily accounting of “Movers & Shakers” know how unusual to see several children’s titles suddenly dominate the list. Sunday was one of those exceptions. The 100 titles on the rise was full of books for the toddler crowd.

Why the sudden attention? A bookseller with a point to make sent parents on a buying spree. Last week Time Magazine posted a list of the 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time. Their top picks? Where the Wild Things Are, The Snowy Day, Goodnight Moon, and Blueberries For Sal.

These tried-and-true (and old) titles are not the ones that ruled Amazon, however. Instead, it’s newer titles, including Maps by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński (Candlewick Press, 2013) and Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illus. by David Roberts (Abrams, 2013; OverDrive Sample) – titles Time completely overlooked.

Jordan B. Nielsen, a children’s book buyer for The powerHouse Arena bookstore in Brooklyn and a blogger on The Huffington Post took exception to Time ‘s selections. “A curmudgeon’s voice took hold in my head as I clicked through the list: The Wild Rumpus is still in vogue? Must we bid the Moon Goodnight once more? Surely piling on one more commendation will fell The Giving Tree!”

She offered her own list of “20 New Classics Every Child Should Own.”

Her description of Rosie Revere, Engineer shows why the Mover & Shaker list is a buzz:

“With all due respect to the Pink brigade, here’s hoping Rosie Revere, Engineer elbows one or two princesses right off the bookshelf. One hardly knows what to be more excited about here: that this story features a young girl enthralled with math and invention, or the book’s overall message that failure is a key stepping stone to success, so long as you don’t give up. Colorful and sweet, this tale of creativity and perseverance will delight parents and daughters alike.”

Who wouldn’t rush to buy that one?

Maps gets this recommendation: “At the bookstore where I work we order it by the case and still cannot keep it in stock. A book kids and adults can pour over together, finding new details every time.”

Nielsen’s list offers a strong counterpoint to Time‘s  golden oldies (for more new titles to recommend, check EarlyWord Kids Correspondent Lisa Von Drasek’s various lists of “best books to give kids you don’t know very well.”)

Live Chat with Caroline Rose

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

The live chat is now a wrap — see what you missed, below.

Live Blog Live Chat with Caroline Starr Rose, BLUE BIRDS
 

Informational Books For
Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

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We’re coming down to the wire for seasonal gift giving. Continuing my series about books you can recommend, and give with confidence, we turn to kids who like books about real subjects.

For Kids Who Want to Know About Real People

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Viva Frida, Yuyi Morales, Tim O’Meara, (Roaring Brook Press), Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 3

Morales’s stunning mixed media art captures Khalo’s life and spirit. The following video explores the creation of the illustrations.

The Pilot and the Little Prince, Peter Sís, (Macmillan/FSG), Ages 5 to 8, Grades K to 3

This sophisticated picture book biography explores the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Sis talks about his inspiration in the video below:

9780802853851_f1c5eThe Right Word, Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet, (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers), Ages 7 to 18

From the award-winning creators of A River of Words, the life of Peter Mark Roget the creator of Roget’s Thesaurus is expressed through language and collage. A masterpiece.

 

 

For Kids Who Like Trucks

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Giant Vehicles, Ron Green, illus. by Stephen Biesty, (Candlewick/Templar), Ages 6 and up

Remember last year’s Caldecott winner Locomotive by Brian Floca? Here is a book for a little younger crowd displaying lift-the -flap cross sections of vehicles from jumbo jets, to trains to spectacular rockets to the everyday dump trucks.

For Kids Who Are Wild About Animals 

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Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents, Lita Judge, (Roaring Brook), Ages 6 and up

Simple language shares facts about animal families with delicious watercolor and pencil naturalist illustrations (take a look at several here)

Chasing Cheetahs: The race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats, Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop, (HMH), Ages 9 and up

The Sibert Award winning author and illustrator for Kakapo Rescue explores a species on the edge of extinction.

9780763675080_4f9aaAnimalium, Jenny Broom, Katie Scott, (Candlewick/Big Picture Press), Ages 8 to 12

Number one on my wish list is this oversized lushly illustrated book that is modeled on a turn of the last century natural history museum. One can imagine a family sprawled out on the carpet for hours, poring over tiny details of the fact-filled pages.

Poetry For Kids You Don’t
Know Very Well

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

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Three novels in verse stood out this year. All are great read alouds and all exhibit greatness in that intangible but essential quality. “voice.”  All three made me long to read them aloud to classes of students.

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The Red Pencil, Andrea Davis Pinkney, (Hachette/Little Brown; Hachette Audio); OverDrive Sample

The Red Pencil sets us down in the Sudan. We enter the life of young girl yearning for an education but caught in a horrific war as she finally arrives at a refugee camp. Pinkney’s spare language gives voice and a window into the cultures and lives we don’t hear or see every day.

How I Discovered Poetry, Marilyn Nelson, (Penguin/Dial Books); OverDrive Sample

Acclaimed poet, Nelson (A Wreathe for Emmett Till) reflects on her life as a child raised on army bases during the 1950’s where the only black people were her own family.

Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson, (Penguin/Nancy Paulson; Listening Library); OverDrive Sample

Winner of the National Book Award, Ms. Woodson’s memoir is more than her own story, it is the story of a generation raised in the sixties and the grounding power of family.

Gifts for Middle Grade Kids
You Don’t Know Very Well

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

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Continuing my series about books you can recommend, and give with confidence, below are some sure-fire titles published this year for middle-grade kids.

9780399252518_ab369 Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson, (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen)

For the smart kid who wants to get into the head of another, there is Woodson’s National Book Award winner, Brown Girl Dreaming, a book that sings and shouts and, with the help of the NBA judges, sends its song to an even wider universe.  Also consider her backlist, now available in paperback, including Feathers and After Tupac & D Foster.

9781419710209_c5d95El Deafo, Cece Bell, (Abrams)

This has been on the top of my lists since I read an advance copy half a year ago. It stands with the best in the repertoire of middle grade school stories. Don’t be fooled by reviewer shorthand that says this is a book about hearing loss and disability. It is about that, but even more, it is about growing and friendship, misunderstanding and secret thoughts. Bell has bravely shared her own story so that children will know they are not alone as they negotiate the mysterious trials of elementary school society.

9780312643003_8b649Rain Reign, Ann M. Martin,  (Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends; Brilliance Audio)

I am a sucker for a good story about a girl and her dog. If you have readers who want a very real story that can be a bit of a weeper, this it.

Good spoiler alert: Don’t worry, the dog doesn’t die.

 

9780061963810_a349aGuys Read: True Stories, John Scieska illus, by BrianFloca (Walden Pond Press)

I didn’t forget about the boys. This title should have been on the informational books list, but rules are meant to be broken especially by John Scieska. He asks our favorite informational book authors — Candace Fleming, Elizabeth Partridge, Jim Murphy, Steve Sheinkin, and Nathan Hale — to present high interest narrative non- fiction in short format.

Gifts for Young Adults
You Don’t Know Very Well

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

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Continuing my series about books you can recommend, and give with confidence, below are some sure-fire titles published this year for young adults.

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han, (Simon & Schuster; Recorded Books); OverDrive Sample

A Blind Spot for Boys, Justina Chen, (Hachette/Little Brown); OverDrive Sample

For the kids who love John Green and want some romance with complications, don’t miss these.

9781935955955_bde02Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Isabel Gabi Quintero, (Cinco Puntos Press; Listening Library); OverDrive Sample

When I lecture to classes in creative writing, the questions I receive often have to do with what will sell. What are publishers looking for? What are you looking for? The answer is “voice,” which is frustratingly difficult to define.

Debut author Isabel Quintero nails the voice of a late teen wondering, questioning and finding her place in a world unwilling to accommodate who she really is.

See for yourself in the following clip from the audio:

SLJ blog Teen Librarian Tool Box attested to that voice,  “It’s funny, sad, honest, raw, bold, and hopeful. It’s about the many things that can go on in one’s life, great and small.”

9780385741262_c913fWe Were Liars, E. Lockhart
(RH/Delacorte; Listening Library); OverDrive Sample

On nearly all the best books lists for the year, this is a winner for the kid who is sophisticated and can handle psychological drama.

 


Afterworlds
, Scott Westerfield, (Simon and Schuster; S&S Audio); OverDrive Sample

You can’t go wrong with this for the fantasy reader, but it is also a good selection for the aspiring writer. In the video made for the audio edition, Scott gives writing advice.

 

9780375867828_2e07aThe Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, Candace  Fleming, (RH/Schwartz & Wade; Listening Library); OverDrive Sample

For the teen that wants something REAL. The dramatic story of the Russian royal family.

Gifts for Very Young Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

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It’s that time of year when many of us are looking for just the right present for kids that we don’t see all that often, and books are a natural choice. As the nieces and nephews and godchildren gather around the tree or finish lighting the menorah, it’s great to offer each one an alternative to the inevitable pile of gadgets and software, and as the saying goes, a book really is a present you can open again and again.

But with the number of titles available, how do you choose? Not a day goes by after Black Friday that I don’t get five or six emails saying something like this:

I’d love some ideas for 5 grandsons, ranging in age from three to twelve. The ten-year-old loves to read, but the twelve-year-old only loves sports. Last year’s suggestions were very well liked!!

When you’re faced with such a plea, a little reconnaissance pays off big. How old is each recipient? Do you have a clue about likes and dislikes — particularly any subjects, toys, or themes that add up to an obsession? Even a small amount of information, will help you achieve the goal of getting a smile when the gift is unwrapped.

To aid you in your mission, I’m offering my picks from the thousands of children’s books published this year, sorted by age group, with notes to help you spot just the right book for that young reader, attempting to answer the question that plagues adult gift givers with children in their lives: “How do I buy a book for a gift for a kid I don’t know very well?”

We’ll divide this into sections.  Below, selections for the very young. In the following posts, I’ll suggest titles for early elementary and older kids.

This is more art than science, so I may have overlooked some of your favorites. Please mention them in the comments section.

For Families With A New Baby Or Toddler

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No Two Alike, Keith Baker, (Little Simon, Board Book)

Particularly appropriate for families with new twins, but it works for others as well.  Baker’s art and ear for language is pitch perfect for young children and their parents. In the book, we observe a pair of red birds making their way in the snow-covered world.

Moo!, David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka, (Bloomsbury, Board Book)

This was a read aloud delight when it arrived as a picture book in 2013. There never was a more expressive story told with just one sound — “Moo.” Now available in a board book edition we can share our enthusiasm with the pre-reading set

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Honk, Honk! Baa, Baa!,  Petr Horacek, (Candlewick)

This heavy stock board book has a comforting familiarity with Horacek’s mixed media illustrations of common farm animals and the noises they emit. As we turn the die cut pages they form a black and white bovine surprise on the last spread (if you’re having trouble imagining that, watch a kid discover it for himself in this video).

Also from Horacek is Las Fresas son Rojas, (Candlewick)

This is a new Spanish language edition of Strawberries are Red a cornucopia of fruit and colors with a die cut surprise at the end.

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Pat-a-Cake and All Fall Down, Mary Brigid Barrett, illus. by LeUyen Pham, (Candlewick Press)

The familiar nursery rhymes are stretched and expanded in these delightfully silly rhyming romps. Have you ever patted a pickle cold and bumpy? A fuzzy caterpillar? Did your recitation of “Ring around the Rosie” include “potatoes in a mound, plopping green peas all around”?

For Families With Preschoolers Ages 2 To 5

This is the age when kids start to get reading ready. It important for them to explore colors, numbers, and shapes as well as concepts like up and down and in and out through pages of a book. The following will bring surprise and wonder from that most jaded of readers, the parent, who often has to read them again and again.

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Countablock, Christopher Franceschelli, ills. by Peskimo, Abrams 16.95

From the team that brought us Alphablock (Abrams, 2013), this is a brick of a book weighing in at almost 1 ½ pounds of counting fun. We count from 1 to 10 as 6 balls of yarn become 6 sweaters and 7 pots of paint become seven colors of the rainbow in bold graphics that include an oversized depiction of the number then we count by 10s to read a double page spread of 100 puzzle pieces (see more interior photos here).

Circle Square Moose, Kelly Bingham,  illus, by Paul Zelinsky, (Greenwillow Books)

The creators, Z is for Moose broke down the structure and predictability of the alphabet book. Shapes are the feature of this reprise of the adventures of Moose whose enthusiasm for the subject matter exceeds his social skills. See below for

 

9789888240852_2afc8Number Circus: 1-10 and Back Again!,  Květa Pacovská (minedition, Dist. by IPG)

This playful, tactile volume with embossing, die-cuts, and interactive lift-the-flaps is an artistic volume that nods to the influences of modern masters such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró.

 

For Families Sick of Reading the
Same Bedtime Books Over and Over

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Thank You, Octopus,  Darren Farrell, (Penguin/Dial)

Absurdist humor seems to be a winner this year and I would give the prize to this one. The familiar structure of the children’s games “Fortunately/ Unfortunately” and “That’s Bad/ No That’s Good” are used here as a knitted cap-wearing Octopus offers what at first seems a to be typical bedtime rituals of a warm bath, bringing a “Thank you, Octopus!” But, wait, that bath is made of egg salad. “Gross! No, thank you, Octopus!” This holds up to repeated readings, as we explore the ship where the boy and the octopus reside.

Small Blue and the Deep Dark Night,  Jon Davis, (HMH)

Small Blue is white bunny. Small Blue is imagining scary creatures like gremlins and goblins when the lights are turned off at night. The grownup in the house is Big Brown, an enormous bear. Big Brown suggest imagining something fun not scary in the dark like delightful doggies riding unicycles. The bunny’s bedroom when lit is a cozy space of glowing yellow strewn with toys and books contrasting with the deep blues where the fantasy beings appear in the dark. Sure to become a favorite.

Gifts for Early Elementary School Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

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Continuing my series of suggestions for gifts that are sure to bring smiles, below are titles for early elementary kids.

Picture Books, Ages 5 and up

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Bad Bye, Good Bye, Deborah Underwood, illus. by Jonathan Bean (HMH)

Underwood, whose Quiet Book won the Geisel Award for beginning readers, has made me see books for emergent readers in a new way. One of my favorite picture books of the year, this just happens to have easy-to-read limited rhyming text. The ink and color pencil illustrations eloquently depict a child’s unhappiness about his family’s moving to a new home and his discovery that the new place has its compensations. Not to be missed.

Pardon Me, Daniel Miyares, (Simon and Schuster)

Here is the book for the kids who couldn’t get enough of Jon Classon’s I Want My Hat Back. Parrot is content to be alone on his small island when first a heron joins him with a polite “Pardon me.” As more animals join him, the more visibly annoyed he becomes. The twist ending will delight listeners while teachers will be thinking of ways to lead a discussion on inference. A keeper.

9781419705182_7bac8100 things that make me Happy, Amy Schwartz. (Abrams)

Amy Schwartz in my mind is one of the overlooked geniuses of children’s books today. She quietly produces perfect books without fanfare that reflect the everyday lives of children with a subtle subversive flair. Her Bea and Mr. Jones was selected for the first Reading Rainbow list and is as fresh and funny today as it was the year it was published, 1982 (give yourself a treat with this flashback to the great Madeline Khan reading it on the show) and there is not a better book about friendship for kindergartners than her 2001 book, The Boys Team.

That said, in her newest creation, Schwarts presents rhyming pairs of word phrases — curly hair…teddy bear, mermaid…lemonade. This is an illustrated catalog, a counting book, an easy reader, as well as delicious word play. The rhythm of the words and page turns slows down and speeds up as we follow a diverse population of children and their adults displaying the author’s favorite things from the simple “polka dots…forget-me-nots” to the sublime “city lights…starry nights” Families will be inspired to move off the page and observe their own world and list the 100 things that make them happiest.

A New Baby In The Family

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The Baby Tree, Sophie Blackall, (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen)

For those who already own Robie Harris’s Its Not The Stork, this is the next perfect book for explaining where babies come from. The narrator receives bits of information from various sources — his babysitter, his grandfather, his teacher, and the mail carrier — but until his mom explains the biological information in plain language, none of it makes much sense.

Gifts for Beginning Readers You Don’t Know Very Well

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

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Continuing my series of suggestions for sure-fire gifts, below are titles for kids who are starting to read on their own, plus a couple of suggestions for family readalouds.

For those who like their easy-to-read books in a traditional format there are some new books with favorite characters:

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Drop it Rocket!, Tad Hills, (PRH/Schwartz and Wade)

Rocket (of the best selling Rocket Learns to Read) is back in what may be the first book a child reads to herself. With very few words on the page, the pictures give clues to the words and most importantly there is a good story. This kind of book is very hard to find. More please.

Waiting Is Not Easy, Mo Williams. (Disney/Hyperion)

Although this is another in the Elephant and Piggie series, it is not just another series book. Librarians sometimes joke that the ALA’s easy-to-read award, The Geisel, should just be given to Mo Willems every year. It’s hard to argue with that. Yet I have to say, as familiar as we are with Willems’s work, this one is amazing and surprising. To say any more would raise spoilers, so ,just trust me on this.

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Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly, Grace Lin, (Hachette/ Little Brown)

Introduce your newly fluent early chapter book readers, the ones who are speeding through Henry and Mudge, to the silly sisters, Ling and Ting. Lin’s comic timing is exquisite in these six short chapters that capture the young girls’ imaginative adventures.

Cock-a-Doodle Oops!,  Lori Degman, illus.  by Deborah Zemke, (Creston, Dist. by Perseus/PGW)

Rhythm, rhyme and repetition combine in this absurdist barnyard tale of a rooster who goes on vacation and delegates his wake up duties to the other animals. This sleeper is a winner.

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Ballerina Dreams: from Orphan to Dancer, Machaela and Elaine DePrince,  illus. by Frank Morrison. (Random House)

The autobiography of an orphan from Sierra Leone, who, encouraged by her adoptive American family, became a ballerina, this is for the kids who are reading independently and want a real story. Also available now for ages 12 and up is Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina (RH/Knopf)

The Whale Who Won Hearts: And More True Stories Of Adventures With Animals, Brian Skerry, (National Geographic)

In this short chapter autobiography we follow Brian Skerry, a National Geographic photojournalist specializing in marine wildlife and underwater environments. For a taste of his amazing photos (and his journalistic drive), take a look at this National Geographic video. For even more, see his TED presentation.

Family Read Alouds

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The family with younger children, around 4 to 6, who have enjoyed Kate DiCamillo’s six Mercy Watson books, will want her new early chapter book Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Candlewick), set in the same world and a hoot.

Shannon Hale, the Newbery Honor winning author of The Princess Academy (also a great read aloud) presents The Princess in Black, (Candlewick),  a grand adventure about a proper pinkish princess who has a secret life battling big blue monsters and rescuing goat herding boys.

Norman Bridwell Dies

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

The creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Bridwell, died on Friday. He was 86 years old.

Scholastic published the first  Clifford book in 1963. The series became so important to the company that Scholastic adopted the dog as its official mascot.

In a statement released yesterday, Dick Robinson,  CEO, of Scholastic, paid tribute to the author, saying, “Norman Bridwell’s books about Clifford, childhood’s most loveable dog, could only have been written by a gentle man with a great sense of humor.”

In 2012, Scholastic celebrated Clifford’s 50th anniversary and released a video interview with Bridwell:

A live-action, animated 3D movie, Clifford the Big Red Dog is scheduled for release on April 8th, 2016.

The next book in the series will be published in April.

9780545823357_474aeClifford Goes to Kindergarten
Norman Bridwell
Scholastic: April 28, 2015
Ages 3 to 5, Grades P to K
Paperback
$3.99 USD