The following reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please visit www.hbook.com/subscriber-info.
Newbery Medal Winner and Honor Books
Vanderpool, Clare Moon Over Manifest
253 pp. Delacorte 2010. ISBN 978-0-385-73883-5
LE ISBN 978-0-385-90750-7
Gr. 4–6 It’s 1936 and Abilene’s father, himself looking for work, sends her to his hometown of Manifest, Kansas, to live with Pastor Shady, a bootlegger-turned-preacher. There Abilene uncovers secrets about her family and the entire community. The setting jumps between the Depression era and WWI; mysterious letters and enlightening newspaper articles help set the scene for this captivating tale.
Holm, Jennifer L. Turtle in Paradise
189 pp. Random 2010. ISBN 978-0-375-83688-6
LE ISBN 978-0-375-93688-3
Gr. 4–6 It’s 1935, and narrator Turtle is sent to live in Key West. With her stoic nature and quick wits, she’s able to fit in with her boy cousins. Turtle’s voice is tart and world-weary. Though her narrative is peppered with references from the time, modern-day readers will have no trouble relating, and the fast-moving plot will keep them interested to the end. Reading list, websites.
Preus, Margi Heart of a Samurai
306 pp. Abrams/Amulet 2010. ISBN 978-0-8109-8981-8
Gr. 4–6 Shipwrecked in 1841, fourteen-year-old Manjiro and his fellow fishermen are rescued by a whaler. Manjiro stays on the ship, learning English and later going with the captain to his home in Massachusetts. The facts of the teen’s life are inherently dramatic, but Preus keeps her hero (a real person) human-sized and empathetic. The book is augmented with actual drawings by Manjiro.
Sidman, Joyce Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night
32 pp. Houghton 2010. ISBN 978-0-547-15228-8
Gr. K–3 Illustrated by Rick Allen. Sidman celebrates the world that comes alive after dark; each poem is accompanied by an informative paragraph that also exhibits her flair for language. The dark lines of Allen’s skillful lino cut prints make the perfect accompaniment to a book of night poems, their subtle colors encouraging readers to seek out the creatures slowly, just as eyes become accustomed to the dark. Glossary.
Williams-Garcia, Rita One Crazy Summer
218 pp. HarperCollins/Amistad 2010. ISBN 978-0-06-076088-5
LE ISBN 978-0-06-076089-2
Gr. 4–6 Eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters spend the summer of 1968 in Oakland visiting the mother who deserted them and getting an unexpected education in revolution from the Black Panthers. Williams-Garcia writes vividly about that turbulent summer through the intelligent, funny, blunt voice of Delphine, who observes outsiders and her own family with shrewdness and a keen perception.
Caldecott Medal Winner and Honor Books
Stead, Philip C. A Sick Day for Amos McGee
32 pp. Roaring Brook/Porter 2010. ISBN 978-1-59643-402-8
PS Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Every day kindly zookeeper Amos McGee plays chess with the elephant, keeps the penguin company, reads stories to the owl, etc. When Amos stays home one day, his friends have just the right medicine: they make time to visit their pal. The attentively detailed pencil and woodblock illustrations reveal character and enhance the cozy mood of the gentle text.
Hill, Laban Carrick Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave
40 pp. Little, Brown 2010. ISBN 978-0-316-10731-0
Gr. K–3 Illustrated by Bryan Collier. Slave and accomplished potter Dave (last name unknown) left behind a legacy of artistic work in the form of beautifully sculpted ceramic jars. In lyrical poetry, Hill writes a tribute to the man; Collier’s majestic watercolor collages reflect Dave’s artistry. The book’s pacing is especially well conceived, the illustrations shown in tempo with the text’s descriptions of throwing a pot. Websites, bibliography.
Stein, David Ezra Interrupting Chicken
40 pp. Candlewick 2010. ISBN 978-0-7636-4168-9
Gr. K–3 A “little red chicken” keeps interrupting Papa’s bedtime stories in order to save the day (e.g., telling Chicken Little, “It was just an acorn!”). With a reversal of roles, the little chicken discovers exactly how it feels to be interrupted. Humorously repetitive text draws readers in with just enough variation, while the lush mixed-media illustrations exude warmth and love.
Coretta Scott King Author Award and Honor Books
Williams-Garcia, Rita One Crazy Summer
Also a Newbery Honor Book; see review above.
Myers, Walter Dean Lockdown
247 pp. HarperCollins/Amistad 2010. ISBN 978-0-06-121480-6
LE ISBN 978-0-06-121481-3
YA Fourteen-year-old Reese stole prescription pads and sold them to a drug dealer. Now he’s in a Bronx juvenile detention facility, trying to make the right choices to earn an early release. on favorite themes: hard luck, second chances, overcoming adversity, living with purpose and determination.
Neri, G. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty
96 pp. Lee & Low 2010. PE ISBN 978-1-58430-267-4
YA Illustrated by Randy DuBurke. In 1994, eleven-year-old Black Disciples member Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, attempting to shoot a rival gang member, instead killed a teenaged girl; he was then executed by his fellow Disciples. To tell his story, Neri creates a fictional acquaintance, Yummy’s schoolmate Roger. Illustrated with rough vigor, this graphic novel makes for an authentic parable of the dangers of gang life and gang-ruled streets.
Rhodes, Jewell Parker Ninth Ward
220 pp. Little 2010. ISBN 978-0-316-04307-6
Gr. 4–6 Rhodes captures the warmth and closeness of New Orleans’s Ninth Ward immediately before Katrina through the eyes of twelve-year-old Lanesha and caretaker Mama Ya-Ya. When the hurricane comes, they have nowhere to go and must ride out the storm at home. Mama Ya-Ya’s gift of “the sight” assures Lanesha that she will survive, providing a thread of comfort throughout their otherwise harrowing plight.
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and Honor Book
Hill, Laban Carrick Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave; illus. by Bryan Collier
Also a Caldecott Honor Book; see review above.
Golio, Gary Jimi: Sounds like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix
32 pp. Clarion 2010. ISBN 978-0-618-85279-6
Gr. 4–6 Illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. Golio ably introduces young readers to the rock legend by describing his humble childhood (he was raised by a cash-strapped single dad), first guitar (purchased from the landlady’s son for $5), and creative drive (“He wondered: Could a person use music / like chalks and colored pencils?”). Steptoe accommodates the poetic, shape-shifting text in his heavily worked-over mixed-media illustrations. Websites, bibliography.
From the July/August 2011 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.