Subscribe to The Horn Book

About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is executive editor of The Horn Book Magazine and coauthor, with Roger Sutton, of A Family of Readers (Candlewick). She is coauthor of the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott blog and has served on the 2008 Newbery committee and chaired the 2013 Laura Ingalls Wilder committee.

Real Cowboys

real-cowboys

Most of us associate illustrator Jonathan Bean with a more representative style and a less saturated medium. (Think Building Our House and This Is My Home, This Is My School.) But of course the Real Committee can’t be thinking about that, and anyway Bean made the right artistic choice for this book’s impressionistic text. The art is composed of […]

Review of Egg

henkes_egg

 Egg by Kevin Henkes; illus. by the author Preschool    Greenwillow    40 pp. 1/17    978-0-06-240872-3    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-06-240873-0    $18.89    g In the latest offering from modern picture-book master Henkes (Waiting, rev. 9/15), we are introduced to four different eggs, each a different pastel color and each occupying its own separate quadrant of the page: “egg / […]

A list of great 2016 picture books

thunder-boy

Blogger (and Horn Book reviewer and Calling Caldecott poster) Minh Lê has just released his annual list of best picture books, sorted into his own unique categories. His lists are always terrific; this year especially! Check it out here.    

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

uncorker

This is not my kind of picture book. The story is too wispy for me, the language occasionally too twee, and the premise . . . well, I just don’t buy it. But one of the things committee members must do for an award like the Caldecott (or even a mock Caldecott!) is put aside their own personal likes […]

Review of The Branch

messier_branch

The Branch by Mireille Messier; illus. by Pierre Pratt Primary    Kids Can    32 pp. 9/16    978-1-77138-564-0    $16.95 A little girl mourns when a large branch breaks off from her favorite tree during an ice storm: “That was the branch I sat on, jumped from, played under. It was my castle, my spy base, my ship…” […]

Review of Sleep Tight Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter

doyle_sleep-tight-farm

Sleep Tight Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter by Eugenie Doyle; illus. by Becca Stadtlander Primary    Chronicle    32 pp. 8/16    978-1-4521-2901-3    $16.99 Here’s a unique look at the (considerable) work involved in putting a small farm to bed for the winter — covering strawberry plants with straw, cutting back and burning raspberry canes, chopping and […]

We Found a Hat

we-found-a-hat

Whole masters theses will be written about Jon Klassen’s Hat trilogy, if they haven’t been already. Here, of course, we can look only at this one book, since the actual Caldecott committee is not allowed to consider an illustrator’s previous work in its deliberations. We Found a Hat is a morality play in which (this time!) friendship and goodness and life […]

Before Morning

before-morning

To paraphrase Kevin Henkes in Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, sometimes all you can say is “wow.” That’s how I feel about Before Morning. Look at the intricacy and beauty of the scratchboard illustrations and the strength of the compositions. Notice how carefully the book is constructed. Spreads with text are full-bleed double-spreads; spreads without text feature single pages, […]

On “Who Can Tell My Story”

Photo: Marty Umans

Last Thursday at a panel on diversity in children’s and YA publishing hosted by Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program, Kirkus editor Vicky Smith referenced the current #OwnVoices movement in support of books featuring diverse characters created by authors and illustrators from the same diverse group. For those in the audience unfamiliar with #OwnVoices, Vicky […]

The Airport Book

airport

I suppose I should begin this post with the standard disclaimer about how this doesn’t look like a traditional Caldecott choice and blah blah and BLAH. But really, is there such a thing anymore? So I’ll just say, This book is brilliant and deserves Caldecott recognition. The fact that it manages to be, simultaneously, an informative report […]