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Miracle Man

miracle-man

Truth be told, I almost always avoid standard religious children’s books, as I find the majority of them trite, preachy, or overly sentimental. A picture book about Jesus could easily fall into one of these categories; could be a sentimental, moralistic depiction with a didactic message. But in the hands of author-illustrator John Hendrix, the story of Jesus feels simultaneously […]

The Blob (of Books) That Ate Atlanta

blob-town-the-blob-1958-documentary-phoenixville-pennsylvania-by-james-rolfe

I had a delightful holiday, thank you very much. There was a small blemish on my weeks off, though. In between the gift exchanges and deciding What In The World Should We Watch On Netflix, there was that little voice sounding in the back of my brain. The voice said, “Martha is going to want […]

Marta! Big and Small

marta

The most important lesson I’ve learned from reading picture books is that little books can hold big ideas. This book, which introduces us to an adorable, “ordinary” girl named Marta, isn’t just a cute bilingual book about opposites. Each double-page spread features Marta and an animal on a clean white background, with few surrounding details. […]

Beginning Readers and the Caldecott

cookie-fiasco

Beginning readers aren’t awarded Caldecott Medals or Honors. Not really. Arnold Lobel did win a Caldecott Honor way back in 1971 for Frog and Toad Are Friends, and the past ten years have seen Caldecott recognition of picture books that also function as beginning readers: Kevin Henkes’s Waiting (2016); Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat (2013); Laura Vaccaro […]

Excellent Ed

excellent-ed

In Excellent Ed, a dog longs for confirmation that he is special and important to his family. Each of the Ellis children are gifted at one thing or another, and Ed wants to know what he contributes to the group. He knows he is good at “forgetting stuff” and “losing stuff,” but is that enough […]

Flora and the Peacocks

idle_flora and the peacocks

Oh, how I love Flora and the Flamingo, the first Flora book by Molly Idle, published in 2013. Those amazing flaps, like nothing we’d seen; the gracefulness of the illustrations, with infusions of humor; the lyricism of the story, without using any words. I was thrilled when it won a Caldecott Honor (and as we learned […]

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

goodbye-summer

As I write this, we’re having the first snow of the season in Chicago. My kids could not wait to go outside. They ran back and forth, trying to catch snowflakes on their tongue. They asked when they would be able to have a snowball fight and when we could go sledding. Like most adults […]

Henry & Leo

Henry & Leo

Those of us who look at lots and lots of new children’s books see a lot of familiar plots and art styles that resemble one classic or another in some way. Whenever I see a book that is fresh and unlike anything I’ve seen before, I celebrate. That’s all very well, but I need to remember […]

Leave Me Alone!

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Leave Me Alone! has everything necessary for a great picture book: a frustrated main character, epic adventure, and derpy goats. A book with derpy yarn-eating goats may be being considered for the Caldecott Medal, and I’m pretty thrilled about it. This is cartoonist Vera Brosgol’s first picture book, and though I’ve heard great things about […]

Time to share your mock award results

mockcaldecotts

When the teachers in my children’s lit class completed their mock awards last week (three Caldecott committees plus a Sibert and a Geisel), I encouraged them to hold mock Caldecotts with their own students when they are back in the classroom. I also shared the best incentive I’ve found: Colby Sharp’s 24-second video of his […]