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.

Josephine

josephine

The subtitle of Patricia Hruby Powell (author) and Christian Robinson (illustrator)’s fabulous picture-book biography of the early-twentieth-century African American dancer and iconoclast is “The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker” — and the book is truly as dazzling as its subject. So we can get that major, crucial criterion “appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept” […]

Off-the-wall picture books

seeger_dog-and-bear-tricks-and-treats_170x228

Here are some off-the-wall books for the Halloween season, from funny and not-very-scary for younger readers to suspenseful and weird for older readers. In Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats, best friends Dog and Bear prepare for and enjoy Halloween. They go shopping for costumes (Bear gets distracted when he spies “another […]

What *about* those Caldecott criteria?

Last week, Robin reminded us how crucial it is to keep the Caldecott criteria in mind as we examine this year’s picture books. We all know that the Caldecott rules and criteria are paramount and inviolable, and for decades committees have obsessively wrestled with the meanings and nuances of “excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed”; […]

Review of When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings

mathers_when aunt mattie got her wings

When Aunt Mattie 
Got Her Wings by Petra Mathers; illus. by the author Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    32 pp. 9/14    978-1-4814-1044-1    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-1045-8    $10.99 Best (bird) friends Lottie and Herbie (Lottie’s New Beach Towel, rev. 5/98; A Cake for Herbie, rev. 5/00) help each other cope when Lottie’s beloved (and intrepid and fun-loving) aunt […]

#we need diverse (picture) books

little melba

Of course we do. Last year’s amazing crop of picture books included those illustrated by artists of color such as Yuyi Morales, Brian Pinkney, Jerry Pinkney, Angela Dominguez, Bryan Collier, Don Tate, and Kadir Nelson. This year we will see picture books illustrated by Christian Robinson (two of ‘em), Yuyi Morales, Raul Colon, Duncan Tonatiuh, Jason Chin, Susan […]

Early days yet

farmer and clown

Hello! Welcome back to all you Calling Caldecott devotees — and welcome to those here for the first time this fall. This is the final post of a week in which Robin, Lolly, and I are making preliminary lists of the picture books eligible for Caldecott recognition that have, early in the process, struck a chord with each of us. Perhaps a book looks like […]

Girls on the edge

kuderick_kiss of broken glass

The protagonists of these pull-no-punches YA novels experience the dark side of adolescence, from mental illness to abuse to trauma to religious intolerance to the death of a loved one — but each one is given what she needs to overcome her challenges. After she is caught cutting herself in the school bathroom, fifteen-year-old Kenna, […]

Back-to-school basics

shea_dinosaur vs school

Kids going back to school — or just starting out there? Here are a variety of picture books, from imaginative and funny to historical and serious, to help ease the transition from the lazy days of summer. “Roar! Roar! Roar!” The diminutive red dinosaur from Bob Shea’s Dinosaur vs. Bedtime faces its newest foe in […]

Review of The Twins’ Little Sister

yum_twins' little sister

The Twins’ Little Sister by Hyewon Yum; illus. by the author Preschool    Foster/Farrar    40 pp. 8/14    978-0-374-37973-5    $17.99 Those strong-willed sisters from The Twins’ Blanket (rev. 9/11) are back, having successfully transitioned from one shared bed and blanket to two beds and two blankets (one yellow and one pink, reflecting each twin’s decided color preference). […]

Review of Pom and Pim

landstrom_pom and pim

Pom and Pim by Lena Landström; illus. by 
Olof Landström; trans. from 
the Swedish by Julia Marshall Preschool    Gecko    32 pp. 3/14    978-1-877579-66-0    $16.95 Pom is a small child with sparse orange curls, clad in a long purple sweater; Pim is Pom’s inanimate sidekick of indeterminate species: a dirty pink, with two eyes and four […]