Building Our House

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Jonathan Bean’s Building Our House came out way back in January, so everyone probably knows by now that the book is based on a true story: the author’s parents (the ultimate DIYers) built the Bean family homestead from scratch while living in a trailer and raising three small children (!). Here are things I appreciate […]

Just the illustrations, ma’am

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Hi everyone; Martha Parravano here. All the (much-appreciated) suggestions in the comments on Robin’s last post bring me to a question I’ve wanted to ask for a long time. I have been evaluating and reviewing picture books for twenty-five years. But in doing so I consider the whole book — the interdependence of text and […]

Essential back-to school stories

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What will the new school year bring? Here are four fresh, age-appropriate, and accessible school stories that will please early-elementary readers. In twenty very short, generously illustrated chapters, Rose Lagercrantz’s My Happy Life takes the essential matter of the early-elementary school years — best friends, weird curriculum (potato week?!), playground accidents — and recasts it […]

An unwelcome trend in audiobooks

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but lately I’ve been seeing (or in this case I guess, hearing) an unwelcome trend in audiobooks. To me, the first responsibility of an audiobook is to provide a successful translation from print to audio. A listener needs, at the very least, to be able to follow the plot. And […]

Review of Audiobooks for Youth

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Librarian, columnist, and blogger (Audiobooker) Mary Burkey knows her audiobooks, and in Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA) she proves it with this thorough, cogent, well-organized, and insightful publication. She covers the history of children’s audiobooks, gives us definitions, brings us inside the production of an audiobook via interviews with narrators […]

Impressions from the 2013 Newbery–Caldecott banquet

Three Newbery Medalists in the ladies room at the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder banquet: Patricia MacLachlan, Cynthia Voigt, Katherine Paterson. Photo: Martha Parravano.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend quite a few Newbery–Caldecott banquets, and I wouldn’t have missed a single one, but — let’s be honest — there can be low-lights as well as highlights. An introduction may go on too long; a speech may be less than scintillating; the food may be bland at best; and […]

Newbery 2013

One and Only Ivan

On the one hand, it was a very good year for children’s books. The number of books that fit the Newbery’s definition of  “distinguished contribution to American literature for children” was, to my mind, unusually extensive. What they all had in common  was their excellence; in other ways, from genre to format to tone to […]

ALA 2013 preconference report

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On Friday, June 27, I attended the ALSC preconference, “A Wild Ride: 75 Years of the Caldecott Medal,” which took place at the Art Institute of Chicago and was organized by co-chairs K. T. Horning and Diane Bailey Foote and their planning committee. It was an amazing day, a day that started promptly at 8:15 […]

Martha Parravano’s favorite BGHB winner

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We asked the Horn Book staff and reviewers to name their favorite Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners. Horn Book Magazine executive editor Martha V. Parravano writes passionately about one of her many favorites: I couldn’t pick a favorite, so instead I chose one of the many books that clamored, “Read me again!”: Robert Westall’s The […]

Five questions for Ann M. Martin

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Ann Martin fans, rejoice: she’s back, with an addictive new middle-grade series. Readers will find familiar hallmarks of Martin’s earlier work: the intimacy with which readers get to know the characters; the amount of emotion conveyed through small incidents. But in other ways, this series is quite different. Here’s what the author had to say […]