Metacognitive books: How early should they be introduced?

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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

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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

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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 […]

Behind the book

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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 Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse

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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 […]

Mock Caldecott results? Share right here

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It’s less than a month before the Awards Announcements, but it’s not too soon to hear results of mock Caldecott deliberations. Many libraries host meetings where readers discuss books and vote on their winners. It’s impossible for us to keep up with all of the results, but we do want to know all about your […]

Five questions for A. S. King

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A. S. King’s books are one of a kind: strange, sometimes surrealistic, but always grounded in truth. Her latest YA novel — Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future (Little, Brown, 14 years and up) — is most likely the only children’s book you’ll ever read in which a protagonist ingests desiccated bat remains — and […]

“Rabid Rabbit Readers” —- try saying that five times fast

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I’ve often heard the expression “teaching is a marathon, not a sprint,” an indication that teachers must allow time to pace themselves throughout the school year. But based on my experiences, that’s a whole lot easier said then done. First-year teachers are often thrown into a developed, engrained curriculum plan for a school’s reading program […]

My Grandfather’s Coat

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Heart-on-sleeve confession about My Grandfather’s Coat: I cannot read this book without crying. Some days even thinking about it makes me weepy. It’s not like anything bad happens (the grandfather doesn’t die!), and the tone is neither wistful nor melancholy. It’s such a joyful book, and then oy vey! The emotion sneaks up. The first […]

Neighborhood Sharks

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I didn’t look very carefully at Neighborhood Sharks when it first came in to the office, mostly because I’ve got such a soft spot for harbor seals (close relatives to elephant seals, the preferred prey for the great white sharks in this book). Also, I was kind of turned off by the limp dead seal and […]