Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reading Roundup: December 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 14

Library: all

I read so few picture books this month that I'm only going to pick one standout and one award.

Overall: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Oh, yes. It's true. This quirky tale of a bear with a missing hat is that purely delightful. I read it, giggled helplessly, and then went running around making everybody at work read it, just to see their expression when they read the page where the bear realizes where his hat is, and then what he does about it.

Because I Want To Awards
Sort of a Tangential Holiday Book: The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park
This book about the harvest of frankincense is clearly a Christmas tie-in (three guesses as to where his first successful harvest goes) but to my mind it's really about a father passing on the art of his life to his son. While it's not laid out explicitly in the text, the close and loving relationship between boy and man is clear to see in the illustrations. You can tie that into Christmas however you wish.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reading Roundup: November 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 21
Early Readers: 1

Library: all

Writing: 11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
The resourceful heroine of 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore is back with several theories to test out, including whether a kid can live on snow and ketchup all winter. (Conclusion: Yes, but she'll wish she hadn't.) The research-note structure ups the hilarity.
Illustration: Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman
An illustrated chicken gets into some of the paint that made her and creates a big, big mess. Can she fix it before the whole picture is ruined? Ooo. The spare prose was fun, but I loved the illustrations in this, which expand on the text and make your brain twist ever so slightly.
Overall: The Sniffles for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Oh, dear. Bear is sick, and will not be cheered up even by his stalwart friend Mouse. He is not long for this world, after all! Except that a friend might be the best medicine after all . . . Besides the always-entertaining contrast between dramatic Bear and sensible Mouse, several of the spreads in this book made me cackle and snag co-workers to share the glee. My particular favorite was the one of Bear dragging himself up the staircase, unsure if he's going to live to reach the top. Just right for cold and flu season.

Because I Want To Awards
Another Fine Entry in the Series: Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems
Gerald acquires ice cream, and takes so long to decide whether he should share it with Piggie that the inevitable happens. Who can save the day? Piggie, of course. Like you had to ask.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reading Roundup, October 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 41

Library: all

Writing: It's a Little Book by Lane Smith
If you remember, the original It's a Book mocked technology and drew fire over its last ba-dum-chssshh line. I didn't have any personal objection to it, but what I loved about It's a Little Book is that it mostly skips the techno-talk and explores all the ways babies really do play with books. Do you chew it? Do you wear it? Do you throw it? Of course, the final page explains, "You read it. It's a book, silly."
Illustration: Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle
Ahhh. What a lovely, dreamy, classic piece of Eric Carle art this is. Do I really have to explain the appeal? Dudes, it's Eric Carle.
Overall: Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Holly Meade
Who is it that got an entire ark full of animals to lie down and go to sleep for 40 nights of rain? Well, it sure wasn't Noah. This lyrical story with its lush, glowing illustrations will soothe just about any savage beast you care to name.

Because I Want To Awards
Tailor-Made for Little Fingers: Along a Long Road by Frank Viva
Somewhere in the book, it mentions that the art for this book was created in one loooooooong Adobe Photoshop file and then broken into pieces to fit 32 pages. Use your finger to trace the ribbon of shiny road as it wends its way through said 32 pages.
A Truly Familiar Story: Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime by Myra Wolfe, illustrated by Maria Manescillo
A little pirate with oomph to spare battles bedtime every night. One night, she wins, but unfortunately finds that the price is her oomph. How will she ever get it back again? Even if you don't have a peg-leg, you'll be able to predict the end.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Review: Floating on Mama's Song by Laura Lacamara, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Book: Floating on Mama’s Song 
Author: Laura Lacamara
Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library

On her seventh birthday, Anita discovers that her mother has a new and amazing gift: when she sings, she and everyone around her can float up in the air! Anita floats happily on her mother’s song until Abuelita brings them back to earth with a stern reprimand. Mama promises never to sing again, but it makes her sadder and sadder. Finally, Anita discovers a family secret that could free their song again.

Underneath the lyrical and fanciful story, there’s a very real theme about women who force themselves and their daughters into a particular mold. “What will the neighbors think?” Abuelita asks, bringing her daughter and granddaughter down to earth (literally). But she’s not really the villain, she’s merely applying her own bad experience with the family gift.

I make no secret of my devotion to Yuyi Morales. I am a Morales fangirl and it’s gotten so I can spot her artwork across the library. With rich colors, swirling lines, and sweet details (my favorite are the animal-shaped clouds in the spread where Anita visits the healer), there’s really nobody else who could have illustrated this story.

This bilingual story is pretty long to use in storytimes, but it would work for a classroom readaloud or reading together with a child, especially since you get the chance to discuss the emotions and motivations of the adult characters.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Reading Roundup September 2011

Late again . . . sorry, guys.

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 28
Early Readers: 4

Library: All

Writing: Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen, illustrated by Barry Moser
A simple-enough cautionary tale of a daring mouse who barely escapes with his little mousy life, but lives tothe tell the chilling tale to other daring mice. It's the tongue-twistery rhyming text that made this a favorite for me.
Illustration: Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie Morris
All sorts of dragons, and all sorts of kids to go along with them. While the text makes no mention of different parts of the world, kids and dragons are very clearly from different countries and ethnicities. Bravo. These delicate illustrations swirl and flow, drawing the eye toward rich and exotic details.
Overall: Squish Rabbit by Katherine Battersby
A very, very small rabbit is annoyed because he's too small to do much of anything. Then he discovers that the answer to his loneliness might be in acquiring a friend just as small as he is. The simple illustrations pair with the straightforward storytelling to create a book without an overabundance of cutesy details. Just right.

Because I Want To Awards
Three-Hanky Alert: The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jim LaMarche
On the last day of a cat's life, she moves around her beautiful little world saying goodbye. Probably best used as a read-together, especially when a child is mourning the passing of a pet or grandparent with a long and full life.
For Your Creative Types: Polka Dot Penguin Pottery by Lenore Look, illlustrated by Yumi Heo
The small writer-protagonist of this longer picture book is suffering from writer's block, and when she goes to a pottery painting studio, discovers art-block as well. How can she tap into her creativity again? I read this book and immediately handed it over to a friend who runs an art-and-writing program for early elementary kids.
Hey, Neat!: Dear Primo: a Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh
Two different cousins, one in a US city and one in the Mexican countryside, share their lives with each other via letter. Besides the clear message of similarities even in different surroundings, I really enjoyed the Aztec-influenced art. This one is going on display in my library, where many kids have cousins in other countries.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Reading Roundup August 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 24
Early Readers: 3

Library: all

Writing: Detective Blue by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Tedd Arnold
A tapestry of different nursery rhymes serves as the backdrop to the burning question that Detective (once Little Boy) Blue must solve: where is Miss Muffet? This tongue-in-cheek piece of fun will entertain older kids playing hunt-the-reference in the illustrations as well as the text.
Illustration: Ladder to the Moon by Maya Soetoro-Ng, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Pretty much any month in which I read a book illustrated by Yuyi Morales, it's gonna win my Illustration award. I love her curving, swirling style. That being said, this book is something special for all the little details packed in there.
Overall: TIE
Rooster/Gallo by Jorge Lujan, illustrated by Manuel Monroy
A rooster turns the night into day, and then back into night again in this lyrical, dreamy book. You guys, I'm in love. Extra points for being fully bilingual, yet simple enough for someone with my Sesame-Street command of Spanish to read aloud.
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
Without words, Raschka tells a story of loss, grief, and returning joy through the framework of a dog and a ball. Pretty slick.

Because I Want To Awards
Most Harrowing: Underground by Shane Evans
Definitely a picture book for parents and older children to read and talk about together.
Where Else Could a Twenty-Foot Two-Year-Old Get Lost?: The Wicked Big Toddlah Goes to New York by Kevin Henkes
Just Plain Fun: Where's Walrus? by Stephen Savage

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tune in Tomorrow

. . . because at the moment, I'm barely capable of producing a coherent sentence, much less my August Reading Roundup post. They're surprisingly thought-intensive.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why Junior Needs to Be Scared

A Tweet from Jen Robinson pointed me at this lovely article from the Boston Globe, titled When We Shield Our Kids from Scary Stories, Who Are We Really Trying to Protect? It looks at parents who gloss over scary parts like the death of Babar's mother, and experts who discuss why it's important to allow kids exposure to scary things at a young age.

Fave quote, about why kids aren't so disturbed by the loss of fictional mothers as the mothers are:
the very fear that they’re dealing with is something that they just keep re-experiencing, and then they metabolize it and are then able to manage those feelings.
Yes. YES. This is the same reason that I maintain Go Away Big Green Monster is one of the finest picture books of all time, because it doesn't ignore the monster. It confronts, acknowledges, and overcomes, and isn't that what we want our kids to be able to do with the horrors of the world?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Reading Roundup: July 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 38

Library: all

Writing: The Queen of France by Tim Wadham, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
A testament to a little girl's imagination (she wakes up feeling royal) and her parents' indulgent playing-along. The sequences between Rose and the Queen of France "just missing each other" as the girl changes from one persona to another especially made me smile.
Illustration: Hopper and Wilson by Maria van Lieshout
Oh, those soft watercolors! With the big, big sea and the little boat and the splotch of red that is the balloon which turns out to be the elephant's saving grace. It's just a pretty, pretty book.
Overall: Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
Another one about imagination. A baby rabbit wonders how it would feel to be a butterfly, a rock, or any number of other things as he hops around in his springtime world. The ending is a little sweet for me, but overall I loved this book, and its signature illustration style.

Because I Want To Awards
Where Have You Been Every Time I Had to Do a Fourth of July Storytime?: America, My Land, Your Land, Our Land by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by various artists
That Must Have Been One Well-Built Boat: Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat by Philip C. Stead (If you recognize the author's name, it's because he was also behind the perfectly lovely Caldecott winner A Sick Day for Amos McGee.)
Tongue-Twister of a Readaloud: Scapegoat by Dean Hale, illustrated by Michael H. Slack

Friday, July 1, 2011

Reading Roundup, June 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 57
Early Readers: 2

Library: all

Writing: What are You Doing? by Elisa Amado and Manuel Monroy
This caught my eye because it's about all the different roles that reading plays. Then I realized that there were several men reading. Then I realized that it was set in Guatemala, in a probably-not-very-rich village that still values the written word.
Illustration: The Adventures of Marco and Polo by Dieter Weismuller
From the frozen Arctic to the lush jungles, Weismuller's illustrations make you want to dive in.
Overall: The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer
I want to write something very knowledgeable about this, but I can't. All I can say is, chills. Chills.

Because I Want To Awards
Well, That was Different: Tyrannoclaus by Janet Lawler, illustrated by John Shroades
Yep, I'm a Bad Person. I LOVED This: The Taking Tree: A Selfish Parody by Shrill Travesty
Will Provoke Giggles from All Ages: Earth to Clunk by Pam Smallcomb, illustrated by Joe Berger
Cutest. Pirate. EVER.: Small Saul by Ashley Spires

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reading Roundup: May 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 12 (yeah, it was a pretty skimpy month.)

Review Copies: 1
Library: 11

Writing: Just Because by Rebecca Elliot
A boy and his sister, who has a disability, do everything together. She may not be able to get out of her wheelchair, but she's always ready to join in her brother's imagination in her own special way.
Illustration: Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Just the book for your budding architect. Paschkis takes the lines and shapes that influenced Gaudi's most famous buildings and works them into her illustrations. The minute I closed the book, I had to hit the Internet see if Gaudi's work really was that wild . . . and what do you know, it was! (Side note: Okay, I've totally decided I have an illustrator-crush on Julie Paschkis. I loooooove her work.)
Overall: I Know the River Loves Me/Yo Se Que El Rio Me Ama by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Side-by-side English and Spanish versions of the same poem sing the praises of a river that a little girl loves, and the swirling, flowing illustrations bring both river and girl to life.

Because I Want To Awards
Concepts You Don't Often See in Picture Books: Small, Medium, Large by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Tomasz Bogacki (out in August)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Got an Empty Wall?

If you've ever wanted to own an original piece of art by the likes of David Shannon, Jon Muth, or Mary GrandPré, this could be your lucky day. As part of its Global Literacy Campaign, Scholastic is auctioning off twelve pieces of original art from some crackerjack children's illustrators. From the looks of the prices, the bidding is fierce, but hey, if you've got that kind of money lying around, to what better use could it be put?

Thanks to colleague and Facebook friend Lisa for the heads-up.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Book Review: Mimi Says No! by Yih-Fen Chou, illustrated by Zhiyuan Chen

Book: Mimi Says No
Author: Yih-Fen Chou
Illustrator: Zhiyuan Chen
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library

Like most toddlers, Mimi is fiercely independent. She wants to dress herself, walk to the park unaided, and go down the slide alone. Whenever offered assistance, she shrieks “NO!”and insists upon doing it herself. But even a super-independent toddler needs a little help when she hurts herself. After all, you need someone else for a hug!

Kids will giggle over Mimi’s attempts to dress herself and sympathize with her desire for independence. Parents will immediately recognize the long-suffering Mama who wipes up Mimi’s inevitable milk spill and waits patiently as she figures out how to put on her clothes.

Pair this one with Finn Throws a Fit for books that families with toddlers (and possibly, teenagers!) will immediately recognize and enjoy.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reading Roundup: April 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 39
Early Readers: 2

Swapped: 1
Library: 40

Writing: When the Moon Forgot by Jimmy Liao, translated by Sarah L. Thomson
A dreamy story about the time the moon fell out of the sky and was discovered by a little boy. Liao ably contrasts the effect of a world without a moon (a brisk business in fake moons crops up for awhile) with the genuine friendship growing between the boy and the moon, and their reluctance to let each other go even as it becomes obvious that it’s what needs to happen.
Illustration: Quick, Slow, Mango! by Anik McGrory
Oh, those watercolors! And the whimsical details like Kidogo's astonished ears as the mangos float past him. The story is delightful, but it's the pictures that I want to pore over, and possibly lose myself in Kidogo and Pole-Pole's world.
Overall: I Know the River Loves Me by Maya Christina Gonzalez
This bilingual poem sings about the glories of the river that a little girl loves, a feeling she knows is reciprocated. The swirling, lush illustrations complement the text perfectly.

Because I Want To Awards
All Together Now, Awwwww: The Duchess of Whimsy by Randall de Seve
Impossible to Describe or Categorize: This is Silly! by Gary Taxali
Can't Wait to Read This in Storytime: Little Mouse's Big Secret by Eric Battut

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: Finn Throws a Fit! by David Elliott, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering

Book: Finn Throws a Fit!
Author: David Elliott
Illustrator: Timothy Basil Ering
Published: 2009
Source: Local Library

Nobody knows just what set him off. (Usually he likes peaches.) But Finn is Not Happy, and he’s not afraid to let the world know. Thunder in the nursery! Lightning in the kitchen! Batten down the hatches, people, because Finn is throwing a fit.

This book has gotten a little flak for its apparently illogical plot. Why does Finn throw his fit? Why does he stop? It's just not clear! But for my money, this is spot-on. Toddler tantrums are rarely logical, either in their inception or their termination, and it's not meant to be an in-depth examination of the whys and wherefores of Finn's fit, but an illustration of the feelings that everyone goes through while it's going on. Anybody who’s ever had a toddler will recognize and sympathize with the hapless parents, caught in the midst of their small son’s fury. It overtakes the house and everyone in it. Ering’s charcoal and oil illustrations use swirling lines and jagged edges to accentuate the explosive emotions that Finn expresses so fearlessly.

Want a psychological study of the toddler brain? This isn't it. Want an instantly recognizable portrait of life with a toddler? Pick this up.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stack-Buster #2

Miles to Go by Jamie Harper
A small car enthusiast wends his way to school in a book tailor-made for the kids who can’t get enough of the things that go. Subtle and quirky touches (like his shirt!) will make this an enjoyable one-on-one book as well. Parents will smile at Miles’ imitation of the adult drivers in his life.

Ten Days and Nine Nights by Yumi Heo
A little girl counts down the days until her new adopted sister arrives from Korea. Wordless interstitials show the mother’s journey across the ocean to pick up the baby sister. This book beautifully expresses the excitement of an older sibling, and it will speak to the thousands of adopted children in this country.

Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood
A little owl decides to stay up all day and is overwhelmed by the colors he sees. But as night comes back around, he decides that it’s just as beautiful as the day. I used this in a color storytime. The pages fairly glow with the hues of nature, each page focused on one particular color.

Sources: Local Library

Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review: A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Book: A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Author: Philip C. Stead
Illustrator: Erin E. Stead
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library

Zookeeper Amos McGee always makes time visit with his friends during his rounds at the zoo, and they always look forward to it. But one day he wakes up too sick to come to work, and his animal friends are very gloomy without him. Well, if he can’t go to the zoo, the zoo will come to him.

When writing this review, I reflected that "charming" is overused when discussing picture books. The effect, of course, is that when a genuinely charming book like A Sick Day for Amos McGee comes along, we’re not quite sure how to describe it in a way that will convey how truly sweet it is. There’s nary a child to be found, and yet this is a pitch-perfect children’s book. The charm of the situation - you guys, the animals visit the zookeeper! - and the sweet simplicity of the friendship between man and animals capture kids’ imagination. I’ve used it in storytime and the kids always get a kick out of seeing the rhinoceros fit in the bus on the way to Amos’ house.

But it's more than cute and charming. This is a book about friendship, love, and compassion in the deepest and most generous sense, about giving back to friends what they have given you, not out of obligation but genuine caring.

When I first read it, this had just landed on the NYT Best Illustrated Books of the Year. I was so taken by it that when it landed the Caldecott, I squealed with joy. The illustrations, done in woodblock printing and fine lines with washes of subtle color and oodles of precise detail, contribute to the light and gentle feel of this - gotta say it - charming story.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Review: Mad at Mommy by Kamako Sakai

Book: Mad at Mommy
Author: Komako Sakai
Illustrator: Kamako Sakai
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library

A little bunny expresses his resentment over Mommy’s shortcomings (always sleeping in when he wants to play, never lets him watch cartoons). There’s really only one thing to do, and that’s to leave and go someplace far, far away. That’ll sure make Mommy sorry. But little bunny forgot his . . . ball. Yeah, that’s it, his ball. So there’s nothing for it but to come back again.

This is one of those books about the myriad frustrations of childhood, especially when relating to the major power figure in a young child’s life. The reason I love books like this is that they express these emotions without trying to defang them. It’s annoying to be told, “Hurry up, hurry up,”and then have to wait while Mommy chats. No matter how old you are, you can agree with that. Learning to identify, express, and handle emotions is one of the major developmental jobs of childhood. (Of life in general, even, but I digress.)

I would like to talk very knowledgeably about Sakai’s use of gouache or whatever, but the CIP notes have failed me and all I can say is how expressive his frustrated little bunny is. He droops, he scowls, he pouts, expressing bottomless wells of feeling, good and bad, in the angle of an ear or the turn of a head. The voice of the bunny in the text is pitch perfect, so much so that you feel as if you should have a child reading it aloud instead of yourself.

If you’re sick of sugary “Mommy I love you best” books, add this one to your shelf for a welcome dose of real feelings that end up in the same place.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Reading Roundup: March 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 28
Easy Readers: 1

Library: all

Writing: Floating on Mama's Song by Laura Lacamara
This sweet story of a daughter discovering her mother's secret gift has a lot going on under the surface. I think I should write about this one soon.
Illustration: The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
I pretty much said it all in my Stack-Buster post.
Overall: Banana! by Ed Vere
This book has two words, two characters, and maybe about six colors. It's frickin' genius, and already a storytime standby.

Because I Want To Awards
Not Really For Kids At All, Even If It Is Cool: The ABC's of Rock by Melissa Duke Mooney
So Much Concentrated Awesome It Should Come with a Warning Sign: Let's Count Goats! by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jan Thomas
Prompted a Wicked Case of the Giggle-Snorts: Socksquatch by Frank Dormer

Monday, March 28, 2011

Stack-Buster #1

When I became a children's librarian again, I thought I would be reading and reviewing picture books more than ever. Well, I was half-right. Between storytimes, helping people in the children’s area, and awesome new stuff that comes in, I always have a stack of picture books sitting on my desk waiting for my perusal. I do manage to read them, and I always set aside my favorites to review. Here’s my stack of “favorites to review":


Hence, my newest bloggy brainchild: stack-buster posts. Not full reviews, but short snippets of what I like best about the book. I've already found that snippets are enough for some, and with other books, I just keep writing and those have turned into full reviews that I can post at some other time. The secret seems to be BIC - Butt in Chair. As many times as I've realized that over the years, you'd think it would have sunk in by now.

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

At once a story of social pressure, identity, and number concepts, Otoshi’s story of how the most valueless number learns to see value in herself is more interesting than you could ever imagine. I also love the gloriously simple art, just numbers on black paper. Number recognition, anybody?

The Spider and the Fly, by Mary Howitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
The classic Victorian cautionary tale by Mary Howitt gets an update in this marvelous black-and-white picture book. DiTerlizzi’s illustrations call to mind silent movies, and they’re full of deliciously gruesome details. Watch as the Fly, for all her second-hand wisdom, gets suckered into the wily Spider’s web and meets a sticky end.

Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn’t Fit by Catherine Rayner
Ernest is a moose who doesn’t fit. You may have guessed this already. It’s not that he doesn’t fit into his shoes, say, or his classroom. Those have been done. No, poor Ernest doesn’t fit into the whole dadblamed book! He is simply too big for his entire moosey body to fit in at one time. Oh, dear!

Rayner’s watercolors of the befuddled, yet determined moose and his helpful chipmunk friend pair just right with her text, which uses alliterations (shimmy, shift, shuffle; squidge, squodge, and squeeze) to make it a wonderfully fun read-aloud. The final solution isn’t a total surprise, but it is delightful. I think I need to do a moose storytime soon. Very soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reading Roundup: February 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 30

Library: all

Writing: Cooking With Henry and Elliebelly by Carolyn Parkhurst, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
I'd so watch this brother-and-sister cooking show, with pirate hats! The sibling-ness rings true without descending into annoying schlurp, and the fact that it's a boy who wants to play pretend cooking makes my neo-feminist soul sing.
Illustration: Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn't Fit by Catherine Rayner
Rayner's delicate watercolors are fun, certainly, but the real reason this gets my illustration pick is the metafictive concept of a moose who literally can't fit in the book, and the way he manages in the end. So maybe Mo Willems did it already, but I'm still keeping this on hand for storytime.
Overall: Art and Max by David Wiesner
Oh, please. Like I need to explain. Okay, I'll do it anyway. Think you know how art works? Think again. Wiesner's brain-bending glory of color and concept shows us that art is everywhere.

Because I Want To Awards
Awwww: Slugs in Love by Susan Pearson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
Keep Your Eye on the Elephant!: Bella and Stella Come Home by Anika Denise, Christopher Denise
Return of the Wombats!: Diary of a Baby Wombat by Jackie French

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reading Roundup January 2011

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 28
Early Readers: 1

Swapped: 1
Library: 28

Writing: Robot Zot! by Jon Scieszka
A little robot lands on, and conquers, Earth in his own special way. Oodles of fun.
Illustration: Shadow by Suzy Lee
A little mystical, a little creepy, and a lot of imagination. This one will twist your brain.
Overall: Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty
A little boy draws a singularly mannerless monster. Good thing he can also draw a bus ticket and a suitcase.

Because I Want To Awards
Sooo Recognizable: Mimi Says No by Yih-Fen Chou
Definitely Not Picky Eaters: Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks
Sweet, Sweet Snark: Chicken Big by Keith Graves

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Can Haz Book Trailer?

As far as I'm concerned, a new Dan Yaccarino book is always a cause for celebration. His new one, All the Way to America, comes out March 8th, and here's a trailer to whet your appetite.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Time for Some Reaction Shots

Some of the best fun of any awards ceremony, and the reason why it's so much fun to either attend it in person or hang out on Twitter with other book nerds, is sharing your reaction to the honorees and seeing what other people thought. This year's awards had their share of well-deserved awards, startling upsets, and shut-outs, otherwise known around here as "Yay!" "Huh?" and "Hey!"

I'm pretty happy that one of my favorites of 2010, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, took top honors with the Caldecott. While it wasn't my ultimate picture-book standout for 2010 (see the "Hey!" section for more on that), it's a book that made me smile and smile. I have a half-written review on my hard drive that maybe I should finish now. Interrupting Chicken was sort of unexpected, but then the Caldecott is traditionally more open to silly and funny books than its older sister awards.

I squealed with joy when Seeds of Change: Wangari's Gift to the World  was announced for the John Steptoe New Talent award in illustration. Because if anybody needs to keep on creating glorious books, it's  Miz Jen Cullerton Robertson.

Also, Tomie dePaola richly deserved the Laura Ingalls Wilder award for "substantial and lasting contributions to literature for children." Tomie has been a staple in my reading life ever since I was a wee Bibliovore. In fact, the first place I learned about the Lady of Guadalupe (which any Mexican will tell you, is an important lady) was through his picture-book retelling of the beautiful old story, and I still think of it every time I walk by the picture at church.

Kudos to Grace Lin and Mo Willems for their Geisel honors. We all know that Willems is already an early-reader powerhouse with Elephant and Piggie, but I'm hoping we'll see more early readers out of Lin, because Ling and Ting was so cute!

I freely admit: I haven't read one of the Pura Belpre illustration award winners. Most of them I hadn't even heard of. This makes me sad. I'm going to change that.

Okay, seriously. Where was Nikki McClure's Mama, Is It Summer Yet? With the beautiful cut-paper technique and the subtle changes in color? Guess this is one I'll just have to read at storytime over and over and over again.

Also, I'm not entirely clear on the guidelines for the new Stonewall award (maybe picture books aren't included?) but I'd dearly love to see some recognition next year for picture books. I realize that most of the awards I talked about in this post were for illustration, but that's only half the equation. How about some Todd Parr, with his reassuring messages of self-acceptance? Some Marla Frazee, with her sweet images of same-sex parents? Okay, suggest some more picture-book and early-reader authors to me.

Awards aren't everything, though, and as someone (Mitali Perkins, perhaps?) pointed out, this just means we'll have to roll up our sleeves and show off the books that didn't get official love. Because no matter how many shiny gold stickers there are on a book, all that matters in the end is that a child loved it.

ETA: I've done a similar post for the YA and MG winners over at Confessions of a Bibliovore. Stop in!

ETA again: In the comments section on my other blog, Jennifer reminded me about the wordless deliciousness that was Chalk - also never mentioned on Monday. Awwww . . .

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Awards Time!

John Newbery Medal
for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
(H) Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
(H) Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
(H) Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen
(H) One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Randolph Caldecott Medal 
for the most distinguished American picture book for children

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, written by Philip C. Stead
(H) Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill
(H) Interrupting Chicken written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein

Michael L. Printz Award 
for excellence in literature written for young adults

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
(H) Stolen by Lucy Christopher
(H) Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
(H) Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
(H) Nothing by Janne Teller

Coretta Scott King Awards
(for the best book about the African-American experience)

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
(H) Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
(H) Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
(H) Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill
(H) Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, written by Gary Golio

John Steptoe New Talent
Author: Zora and Me written by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon
Illustrator: Seeds of Change illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler, written by Jen Cullerton Johnson

Virginia Hamilton Practitioner Award for Lifetime Achievement
Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith

Schneider Family Book Award
for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience

Picture Book
The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Lynne Avril
Middle Grade Novel
After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick
YA Novel
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Alex Awards
for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences

The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel by Alden Bell
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel by Aimee Bender
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden: A Novel by Helen Grant
The Radleys by Matt Haig
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray
The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To by DC Pierson

Andrew Carnegie Medal
for excellence in children's video

Paul R. Gagne and Melissa Reilly Ellard of Weston Woods, producers of "The Curious Garden," are the Carnegie Medal winners. The video is based on the book of the same name, written and illustrated by Peter Brown, and is narrated by Katherine Kellgren, with music by David Mansfield. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award
for substantial and lasting contributions to literature for children.
Tomie dePaola

Margaret A. Edwards Award
for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. 
Sir Terry Pratchett

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award
recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site
Peter Sis

Mildred L. Batchelder Award 
for an outstanding children's book translated from a language other than English and subsequently published in the United States

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux, translated by Y. Maudet
(H) Departure Time by Truus Matti and translated by Nancy Forest-Flier
(H) Nothing by Janne Teller and translated by Martin Aitken

Odyssey Award
best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex and narrated by Bahni Turpin.
(H) Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman and narrated by Katherine Kellgren
(H) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and narrated by Nick Podehl
(H) Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly and narrated by Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering
(H) will grayson, will grayson by John Green and David Levithan, and narrated by MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl.

Pura Belpre
For the best books about the Latino cultural experience
The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Peter Sís

(H) Ole! Flamenco by George Ancona
(H) The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba by Margarita Engle
(H) 90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis
Grandma's Gift illustrated and written by Eric Velasquez
(H) Fiesta Babies illustrated by Amy Cordova, written by Carmen Tafolla
(H) Me, Frida illustrated by David Diaz, written by Amy Novesky
(H) Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiun 

Robert F. Sibert Medal
for most distinguished informational book for children

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop
(H) Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca
(H) Lafayette and the American Revolution by Russell Freedman

Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award
Books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience.

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
(H) will grayson, will grayson by John Green and David Levithan
(H) Love Drugged by James Klise
(H) Freaks and Revelations by Davida Willis Hurwin
(H) The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams, illustrated by Quentin Blake

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award
for the most distinguished beginning reader book

Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile
(H) Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same! written and illustrated by Grace Lin
(H) We Are in a Book! written and illustrated by Mo Willems

William C. Morris Award
for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens

The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
(H) Hush by Eishes Chayil
(H) Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
(H) Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
(H) Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults during a November 1 – October 31 publishing year.

Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing by Ann Angel
(H) They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
(H) Spies of Mississippi:  The True Story of the Spy Network that Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement by Rick Bowers
(H) The Dark Game: True Spy Stories by Paul Janeczko
(H) Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates by Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw

Whew! Someone on Twitter said the list just gets longer every year, but I don't feel like a single award is wasted. Coming tomorrow: My reactions (plus the tell-all story of the wild Twitter party!) Share your reactions in the comments!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Want to Get More Involved? Here's a Way . . .

If you've ever wanted to get more involved with the kidlitosphere, now's your chance. Hop on over to MotherReader's blog and sign up for the 2011 comment challenge. In a nutshell, here's how it works: You try to comment on other people's book blogs. That's . . . really about it.

I love this when it comes around, because it reminds me to put my reactions to other bloggers in writing, to be part of the conversation that is this great blog adventure we're all having. I also try to check out a lot of the other participants' blogs, and this challenge has introduced me to lots of neat new blogging friends. Well, what are you waiting for?

This also dovetails rather nicely with my own desire to blog more. I have great half-written reviews on my hard drive, but they don't do me much good there, now do they?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's Cybils Shortlist Time!

Forget that "New Year" crap (pffft! as if anyone pays attention to that). The excitement in the kidlitosphere these days is all for the Cybils shortlists.

As always, there's a great mix of famous and unknowns. If you're a teacher, librarian, or parent, these shortlists are invaluable readers' advisory.

Generally, I have the books on my list but haven't gotten to them yet. That's not a surprise, because I'm almost always way behind in my reading. There are one or two on each list that are totally new to me - woohoo! There are at least a few that I've seen around the blogs and decided not to read, but this nomination might change my mind. Maybe.

What's your Cybils score?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reading Roundup: 2010

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 348
Early Readers: 28

Swapped: 19
Library: 319

Writing: The Daddy Mountain by Jules Feiffer
Selected in August: "Adventure and derring-do with a courageous little girl and her daddy. Perfect."
Illustration: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Selected in June: "The dry Serengeti heat seems to blast off the page. I'm from Arizona, people. We know heat. Pinkney got the baked, bleached, and beautiful landscape just right."
It won the Caldecott for a reason, people! But I want you to know that A Bedtime for Bear and Just In Case were very, very close seconds. Argh.
Overall: Mama, is it Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure
Selected in August: "A tender, gorgeous book about mothers, sons, anticipation, and the slow turning of the seasons. I don't usually make award predictions, but I will be very unhappy if this doesn't get some love come January."
Further remarks: Talk about your wailing and your gnashing of teeth. This was almost a five-way tie.

All the reading roundups for 2010.

You guys, what a great year this was! What are your picks for 2010?