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 Brown Girl Dreaming

woodson_brown girl dreaming

 Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson Intermediate, Middle School    Paulsen/Penguin 328 pp.    8/14    978-0-399-25251-8    $16.99    g Here is a memoir-in-verse so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. It starts out somewhat slowly, with Woodson relying on others’ memories to relate her (1963) birth and infancy in […]

The Baby Tree

The Baby Tree

Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree was named to the NYT Best Illustrated List this year. Last year Blackall wowed us with her innovative, almost-3D pictures for The Mighty Lalouche — which fact is of course irrelevant to this discussion, since books from previous years are absolutely not allowed on the Caldecott table, literally or figuratively. But one […]

Where’s Mommy?

wheres mommy

Travis Jonker recently documented the overlap between the New York Times Best Illustrated List and books that have won Caldecott recognition — well done, Travis! — and since there’s no arguing with cold, hard facts, we here at Calling Caldecott are paying attention. By my reckoning, half the books on the 2014 NYT List are […]

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

sam and dave dig hole

What will the Caldecott committee be talking about when it turns its scrutiny to Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Sam & Dave Dig a Hole? Maybe the question should be, What WON’T the committee be talking about? Like Yuyi Morales’s Viva Frida, this is one discussable book. Though, perhaps, for different reasons. The art is certainly […]

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 […]