Archive for the ‘Childrens and YA’ Category

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

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

lisabadge

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

lisabadge

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

lisabadge

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

The BFG Finds His Sophie

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

9780374304690Get ready for a resurgence of the popularity of the name Ruby. Steven Spielberg has just announced that 10-year-old British actress Ruby Barnhill will star in his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1982 children’s book, The BFG, (Macmillan/FSG YR).

In a statement, Spielberg gives the young actress high praise, “After a lengthy search, I feel Roald Dahl himself would have found Ruby every bit as marvelous as we do.” She will play a young girl named Sophie who befriends a giant, played by Mark Rylance.

Disney plans to release the film on July 1, 2016.

Meanwhile, BBC One has completed another Dahl adaptation,  a TV movie based on Esio Trot, starring Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman. It is scheduled to air in the U.K. on New Years Day. U.S. rights have been acquired by the Weinstein Co., but the U.S. release date has not been announced.

Misty Copeland

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Calling her as “The Cover Girl For A New Kind Of Ballet,” CBS Sunday Morning featured African-American ballerina Misty Copeland.

9781476737980_f76ddHer autobiography, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, (S&S/Touchstone; Tantor Audio), published in hardcover in March, is coming out in trade paperback this week.

She also published a children’s picture book in September, Firebird, illus. by Christopher Myers, (Penguin/Putnam) picked as a best book of the year by NPR:

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“The book is for very young dancers who may not see many people who look like them in the world of ballet. It’s illustrated by Christopher Myers, whose collagelike work is painterly, vivid and emotional. Copeland’s writing and Myers’ art draw you into a beautiful world, rich with color, texture and drama. For all budding young artists who maybe don’t have role models they can relate to, this little book provides some inspiration.

 

INSURGENT Trailer Debuts

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Released just an hour ago, the first full length trailer of Insurgent. The movie arrives on March 20, 2015.

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Rainbow Rowell’s Next Is
CARRY ON

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

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Announcing her next book via a tweet, picked up by Entertainment Weekly‘s “Shelf Life” column, Rainbow Rowell says,

She adds the following details on Tumblr:

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything. Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

In another tweet, Rowell teases that more news is coming.

Fans, of course will be speculating. Could it be a movie? Film rights have been picked up for Eleanor & Park, but there have been no announcements for  Fangirl (don’t be confused by that Meg Ryan movie in the works, Fan Girl. It is not an adaptation, but an original script).

UPDATE: Turns out the news is about the special collector’s edition which we noted below.

Ordering information for Carry On won’t be available until early spring. A sneak peek will be featured in a new “collector’s edition” of Fangirl,  coming in May, described as including “Fan Art, a ribbon bookmark, an exclusive author Q&A, and an excerpt from her upcoming book Carry On.

9781250073808_39862Fangirl: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell

St. Martin’s Griffin: May 12, 2015

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Hardcover; $18.99 USD

 

NYT Book Review,
Notable Childrens & Teen Books

Friday, December 5th, 2014

The New York Times Book Review just completed their best books selections by releasing their Notable Childrens Books.

We’ve added their 25 picks to our downloadable spreadsheet, for your use in ordering and creating displays, 2014-Best-Books-Childrens-and-YA-V.6, bringing the total number of titles on the list to 280.

Two books continue to be the leaders in the number of picks, Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award winning memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin) and E. Lockhart’s Y.A. novel, We Were Liars. (RH/Delacorte).

Middle Grade Leaders

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The two leading middle grade books are about kids learning to deal with disabilities, Cece Bell’s graphic memoir, El Deafo (Abrams) and Ann M. Martin’s novel about a girl with Asperger’s, Rain Reign (Feiwel & Friends)

Leading Picture Book

9781442497443_a0c84Two-time Caldecott Honor winner Marla Frazee’s The Farmer and the Clown leads in the number of best books picks for the category.

The NYT BR describes this wordless book as ” visually poetic.”

 

NYT BR Unique Picks

The majority of the 280 titles on our collated list were picked by just one source. The NYT BR adds their own 3 unique picks (annotations from the Times):

Arcady’s Goal9780805098440_21da9. Written and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, (Macmillan/Holt; ages 9 to 12.)

“In this memorable illustrated novel, the Russian-born, Newbery Honor-winning Yelchin tells the story of an orphan in Stalinist Russia whose skill at soccer offers an opportunity to transform his life.”

 

9780805099676_a0aceThe Storm Whale . Written and illustrated by Benji Davies, (Macmillan/Holt; ages 3 to 8.)

“This charmingly illustrated picture book tells a simple but powerful story about a lonely boy, his hard-working single dad and a stranded baby whale that helps parent and child grow closer.”

The Jacke9781592701681_3f2a5t,  Kirsten Hall. Illus.by Dasha Tolstikova, (Enchanted Lion, $17.95; ages 4 to 8.)

“A character named Book is distraught when his jacket is ruined by his owner’s dog, but she makes him a new one in this ingenious and poignant tale.”

Snoopy Flies Again

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Good grief! It’s been nearly 50 years since A Charlie Brown Christmas first hit TV screens.

And, next year, the 65th anniversary of Charles Schulz’s first Peanuts comic strip, will be marked by a new animated movie featuring the characters.

The movie’s producers appeared on the Today Show last week and introduced the kids who will voice many of the characters.

Eerily, however, Snoopy and Woodstock will be “voiced” by the late Bill Melendez, the voice of those characters in A Charlie Brown Christmas, via sampled recordings.

A new trailer is also available (note: it says movie is coming “Next Christmas,” but the release date is actually Nov. 6)

A tie-in scheduled for next summer — many more are sure to come:

Peanuts Movie Original Graphic Novel
Charles Schulz
S&S/BOOM! Studios,  August 11, 2015
Trade Paperback
$9.99 USD

Best Books, Childrens and Teens

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

National Public Radio today published their staff selections of the best books of 2014, with a spiffy interface that allows readers to filter it in many ways (such as  “Book Club Ideas” and “Rather Long” — there is no “Rather Short,” category, however. UPDATE:  There IS a “Rather Short” category! Thanks to Margery at BCPL for pointing it out).

We’ve updated our downloadable spreadsheet, 2014-Best-Books-Childrens-and-YA-V.5 with their picks. The list now includes 280 titles selected by the Amazon Editors, Kirkus, PW, SLJ, and NPR.

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Leading in total number of picks is Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award winning memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin) as well as E. Lockhart’s Y.A. novel, We Were Liars. (RH/Delacorte).

There’s little consensus, however. The majority of the titles, nearly 250, were picked by just one or two sources.

Still to come is the NYT Book Review’s Notable Childrens Books, Horn Book‘s “Fanfare” titles, as well as the ALA awards, to be announced at Midwinter.

We are at work updating our adult fiction and nonfiction spreadsheets and plan to have them ready by the end of the week.

Woodson On
“The Pain of the Watermelon Joke”

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

In an Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times, Jacqueline Woodson proves that a thoughtless comment can be answered thoughtfully and poignantly,

Responding to Daniel Handler’s “joke” at the National Book Awards about her being allergic to watermelon, she notes that she does indeed have an aversion to watermelon, a fact Handler knows because they have been friends for years.

By bringing it up, though, Handler reminded the audience of the way watermelons have been used to ridicule African Americans. “In a few short words, the audience and I were asked to take a step back from everything I’ve ever written … By making light of that deep and troubled history, he showed that he believed we were at a point where we could laugh about it all. His historical context, unlike my own, came from a place of ignorance.”

DARK WILD Wins Guardian Prize

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

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Saying, “It feels amazing to be one of the prize’s least-known winners,” author Piers Torday won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize this week for his middle grade novel, The Dark Wild, (Penguin/Viking Juvenile), to be published here on January 22.

Begun in 1967, The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize is awarded by a jury of children’s authors. The longlist for this year’s Prize included Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo as well as We Were Liars by E. Lockhart,

The book is the second in a trilogy, following The Last Wild, (Penguin/Viking Juvenile), a title  featured in our Penguin Young Readers program, which gives librarians the opportunity to read galleys and chat with rising star children’s authors. View the chat with Torday here.

Join us for our next author chat, this Wednesday, with Kim Bradley, author of The War That Saved My Life, (Penguin/Dial), this Wednesday, Nov. 19, from 5 to 6 p.m., EST.

The NYT BEST ILLUSTRATED:
A Judge’s Experience

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

lisabadge

The New York Times Book Review issue with the “Best Illustrated Books” list arrives in print this Sunday (see my takes on each specific title).

As those of us who have been watching this list for years know, it typically contains a surprising mix of books with popular appeal and those with arty sophistication. Although it is tempting to second guess and speculate on why one particular title made the list and another was left off, these conversations rarely reflect the actual considerations that went into the selections.

I had the honor to serve as a judge one year. At the time, children’s book editor Eden Ross Lipson encouraged us to write and share our process and deliberations. This is an outlier attitude. Most book selection juries, from the American Library Association’s Newbery to The National Book Awards, are asked to keep the discussions confidential, to allow for more free of expression of opinions. I recall that the only requirement imposed on the NYT Best Illustrated judges was to keep their appointments a secret until the announcement was made public. I was bursting but honored the request, even taking a vacation day from work for the deliberations so I didn’t have to disclose my participation to my library director.

(more…)

The NYT BEST ILLUSTRATED:
Lisa’s Takes

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

lisabadge

The NYT Book Review‘s selection of the ten best illustrated books of the year is offered as simple list, with no annotations. Librarians may want a bit more background on the titles. Below are my takes.

9781442494923_22c98  THE PILOT AND THE LITTLE PRINCE  The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry  9781568462462_ab869

Draw!, written and illustrated by Raul Colon (S&S/Paula Wiseman)

A word-less masterpiece, a sweeping tribute to the power of imagination, this is a technical tour-de-force.

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antione de Saint-Exupery, written and illustrated by Peter Sis (Macmillan/FSG/Frances Foster)

Anyone who has had an eye on this year’s output recognizes that The Pilot and The Little Prince is another Peter Sis classic. The exquisitely detailed illustrations beg readers to pore over them again and again, revealing new insights with each reading.

Harlem Hellfighters, written by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Gary Kelley (Chronicle/Creative Editions)

Pairs J. Patrick Lewis’s fact based poems and Gary Kelly’s dark, haunting illustrations combine in a very personal profile of this World War I brigade that fought in France.

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Time for Bed, Fred, written and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail (Walker Books/Bloomsbury)

With spirited watercolor, Ismail coveys emotion and motion with a loose line, indicating the form of the resting or restless or bouncy body of the shaggy dog. A winner for bedtime, story time, or any time.

Where’s Mommy?, written by Beverly Donofrio, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (RH/Schwartz & Wade)

This sweet but not saccharine story of a girl and a mouse parallel lives above the stairs and below is depicted with skill as readers enjoy all the tiny details of a “day in the life” The quiet humor of the text is matched in form and color. The very example of a child-centered picture book.

9780375867316_c1525  THE BABY TREE

Here Is the Baby, written by Polly Kanevsky, illustrated by Taeeyun Yoo (RH/Schwartz & Wade)

It is easy to overlook the obvious and familiar. I am grateful that the Judges brought attention to Here is The Baby, a quiet perfect book reflecting day in the life of a toddler. Kanevsky’s rhythmic, repetitive text makes it good to read aloud. Taeeun Yoo, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award for new illustrator, skillfully expresses emotion and light, climate and comfort with specificity of line and color. This is a sleeper that shouldn’t be missed.

The Baby Tree, written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen)

I was delighted. Simply delighted to see this on the list. Anytime I had been in a judging situation, humor was the toughest to sell to my colleagues. Blackall has nailed the subject (misunderstanding grown-up explanations of “where babies come from”) with empathy, kindness AND fun.

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Shackleton’s Journey, written and illustrated by William Grill (Flying Eye Books)

Published by a small press in the U.K., this was not reviewed by the professional journals and therefore is not owned by many libraries.  Shackleton’s various arduous expeditions into the Antarctic have been covered in many books and a TV series starring Kenneth Branagh. An example of the arty but accessible (click on the title link to see some of the interior pages), the sketches evoke the feeling of a naturalist’s diary with an almost documentary feeling as we peek into the mundane (six months provisions) isolating hardship (crossing the ice fields) and relief (rescue and survival). Supplies at wholesalers are limited, but this award is sure to result in a reprint.

Haiti my country, written by Haitian schoolchildren, illustrated by Roge (Fifth House Publishers)

As we enter the culture and the land of Haiti through portraits of teenagers, we find ourselves entering their lives and struggles. This picture book can pair well with Youme’s award-winning Selavi: That IS Life, A Haitian Story of Hope, (Cinco Puntos Press, 2004), a book that is essential to all well-rounded collections. (Good news — the publisher tells me that a reprint of this one is coming and it should be at wholesalers in December).

THE PROMISE

The Promise, written by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin (Candlewick Press)

An urban “Johnny Appleseed” about a young girl whose life as a thief is transformed when she is tricked into planting acorns and witnesses how the resulting trees improve people’s lives. I have to admit that this one did not work for me. As Kirkus puts it, this is “yet another heavily earnest parable,” adding dryly that the idea is “Valid as metaphor though much less so as a feasible plan of action.” Booklist, however, gave it a star.