The year in review

challenges-ahead

What a difference a year makes. Last year’s picture book crop included such a strong group of front runners that it was possible to…no, not predict, but at least anticipate some of the Caldecott choices. This year, it seems to me, the field is WIDE OPEN. And this year’s committee has quite a job in front of them. […]

Sharon Draper on Stella by Starlight

sharon m. draper

In the January/February 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, editor Martha Parravano talked to Sharon M. Draper about her new intermediate novel Stella by Starlight. Read the full review here. Martha V. Parravano: Have you ever tried to write by starlight? Sharon M. Draper: I’ve marveled at the moon — the phases intrigue me […]

2015 Sydney Taylor Book Awards

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The winners of the 2015 Sydney Taylor Book Awards are: My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth; illus. by Barbara McClintock (younger); *wipes away a happy tear* Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier; illus. by Marc Lizano; color by Greg Salsedo (older) Storm by Donna Jo Napoli (teen) In each category two Honor […]

Metacognitive books: How early should they be introduced?

monster end of book

During the last few months I’ve encountered a number of children’s picture books with a self-reflective or metacognitive approach. The texts encourage readers not just to reflect or think (cognitive) but to think about their thinking (metacognitive). Since the books’ illustrations were eye-catching and the topics were relatable, I read them to some three-year old […]

Bad Bye, Good Bye

badbyegoodbyecoveruse

You know that feeling that you’ve missed something? Well, I had that feeling last week when I pulled out the titles for my class’s mock Caldecott. I blithely grabbed Bad Bye, Good Bye and thought, “Uh-oh. I never wrote about this one, did I?” In true Robin Smith fashion (ask any of my editors what […]

Nana in the City

nana in the city

This is a JUST RIGHT kind of book. Just the right size; just the right tone; just the right scope of experience/adventure for the audience. How does Lauren Castillo accomplish this just-rightness in the art? 1) Through the use of color. In the beginning she communicates the noise and smells and sheer overwhelming-ness of the big […]

Nighty Night! app review

nighty night cover

As Fox and Sheep‘s bedtime app Nighty Night! (2012) opens, the screen pans across a view of a little town. One by one the lights in houses’ windows go out, but the farmhouse’s lights still blaze. Tap them to explore inside and around the house, along the way discovering friendly animals: a duck, a hen […]

Behind the book

Port Chicago

Back on October 10th, I had the privilege of attending the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award ceremony. During the celebration, honorees and winners came to the podium to receive their awards and address the audience. Needless to say, I was star struck to be in the room with the likes of Steve Jenkins, Gene Luen Yang, […]

The first Notes of the year

notes jan 2015

In January’s issue of Notes from the Horn Book, Jennifer Brabander asks Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future author A. S. King about that bat and lots more. You’ll also find: more fierce female YA protagonists snowy-day picture books intermediate series graphic-novel memoirs Read the issue online or subscribe to receive the monthly Notes from […]

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse

maclachlan_iridescence of birds

Waaay back in January 2014, I saw this book. Hadley Hooper’s art blew me away. It still does. (And here Joanna Rudge Long reviews it for The Horn Book.) Henri Matisse is presented as a youngster, growing up in a dreary gray town. His mother introduces color to his life as she paints plates, arranges […]