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For animal lovers only

Four middle-grade novels feature animals (and one mysterious creature) that change the protagonists’ lives. From an inventive, slightly mystical environmental fable to a compelling work of historical fiction, these are all recommended for the animal lovers in your life. Me and Marvin Gardens is a smart, environmentally conscious fable with a lot of heart and […]

Out of Wonder

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets is an unusual book: a collection of original poems by three contemporary poets celebrating the work of twenty established poets, from Rumi to Gwendolyn Brooks to Naomi Shihab Nye. Just looking at the cover is enough to see that illustrator Ekua Holmes (winner of, among other awards, a 2015 Caldecott Honor for […]

Review of Spring for Sophie

Spring for Sophie by Yael Werber; illus. by Jen Hill Preschool, Primary    Wiseman/Simon    32 pp. 2/17    978-1-4814-5134-5    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-5135-2    $10.99 In the middle of winter (a snowy, northern, rural winter), Sophie is ready for spring. She wonders when it will arrive and how she will know it is […]

Wolf in the Snow

I am not a decisive person, it seems. I have difficulty coming up with a list of Caldecott contenders IN LATE AUGUST, when traditionally Robin Smith, Lolly Robinson, and I kick off the Calling Caldecott season with our predictions (or, at least, our choices of books that we think should/could be in the running). But […]

Review of Short Stories for Little Monsters

Short Stories for Little Monsters by Marie-Louise Gay; illus. by the author Primary    Groundwood    48 pp. 3/17    978-1-55498-896-9    $19.95 Here’s a collection of super-short stories — one per double-page spread — in the growing tradition of such collections (recently, for instance, One Day, the End, rev. 9/15; Benjamin Bear in “Brain […]

Town Is by the Sea

Next month Groundwood Books will release one of the most beautiful picture books of the year. Written by Joanne Schwartz, with pictures by Sydney Smith, Town Is by the Sea follows a boy as he goes about his ordinary summer day — playing on the playground, eating lunch, going to the store to get groceries for his mom […]

Review of Big Cat, Little Cat

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Roaring Brook    40 pp. 3/17    978-1-62672-371-9    $16.99 Spare in both text and illustration, this is an affecting, unsentimental picture book about the cycle of life. Cooper (Train, rev. 1/14; Farm, rev. 5/10) often takes detailed looks at broad […]

Science books and the Caldecott

It’s rare enough for a nonfiction picture book to get Caldecott recognition — but a science book? Never. True, a biography of a scientist, Snowflake Bentley, won the medal in 1999, and a hybrid poetry/science book, Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems, was an honor book in 2006. There have definitely been more science-book contenders in […]

And the seasons, they go round and round

Every January, a new cycle begins: as the 2017 Caldecott committee makes their choices and ends their service (thank you, 2017 Caldecott Committee!), the 2018 Caldecott committee begins their work. We are pleased to say that this year we will attempt to echo that work as the year unfolds. Members of the 2018 committee are already on the […]

ALA Youth Media Announcement Report

As promised, here’s my view of Monday morning’s YMAs in Atlanta. As a member of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury, my morning started at 6:30 AM, when I arrived at the convention center. Like many of the award committees, my committee was meeting before the 8 AM announcement ceremony in order to call our winners and […]