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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.

Review of Sleep Tight Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter

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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

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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

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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

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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 […]

Twenty Yawns

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Having won a 2015 Caldecott honor for Nana in the City, Lauren Castillo will surely be on the Caldecott committee’s radar. This is a very different book in theme and even in palette, but once again she does here what she does best: keep the focus tightly on the child’s experience, and get it just right. […]

Emma and Julia Love Ballet

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It’s always an interesting exercise to look closely at a book that isn’t a top favorite. Don’t get me wrong: I love this book; I just wasn’t thinking of it as a Caldecott contender. But Julie Danielson named it (here) as a book she’d like to see considered. And, in fact, the actual Caldecott committee will be […]

Welcome, new readers!

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Four welcome books — two easy readers and two beginning chapter books — invite new readers in using humor and tried-and-true formats and structures. The Thank You Book is (sob!) the final entry in Mo Willems’s hugely popular series of easy readers featuring the free-spirited Piggie and her best friend, the reliable if sometimes officious […]

Review of Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb

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Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy 
Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb Middle School, High School    Levine/Scholastic    
306 pp. 6/16    978-0-545-73243-7    $17.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-545-73533-9    $17.99 In this young readers’ edition of The Winter Fortress, Bascomb (The Nazi Hunters, rev. 9/13) turns his attention to a single, crucial Allied operation of WWII: the disruption of […]

Review of We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler

freedman_we will not be silent

We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman Intermediate, Middle School    Clarion    104 pp. 5/16    978-0-544-22379-0    $17.99 Freedman’s latest photohistory is an excellent overview of the White Rose resistance movement, a group of university students who, beginning in June 1942 in Munich, Germany, risked their […]