Reviewing race

Strickland

Over on Facebook, illustrator Shadra Strickland asks a good question: “Why is it necessary for a reviewer to identify the ethnicity of a character in their review when the plot has zero to do with race…especially in picture books? A friend just told me that in her latest pb, her family was identified as Caucasian. […]

Draw!

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I’ve been a fan of Raúl Colón’s distinctive style for years, but this is the first of his books that I think has a really good chance at the Caldecott. It’s gotten starred reviews in The Horn Book, SLJ, Booklist, PW, and Kirkus. Not too shabby. But more than that, it just has an award-book […]

Default in our stars

50 Books Every Child Should Read

This week’s Entertainment Weekly has a list of “50 Books Every Kid Should Read” (view PDF here). Given that it strives to contain both classics (Where the Wild Things Are) as well as modern favorites (The Fault in Our Stars); and pop hits (The Hunger Games) along with critics’ darlings (Roll of Thunder, Hear My […]

Fantasy and science fiction

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This week’s topic is “Beyond the World We Know” — a category that encompasses an extensive range of books, from magical realism to science fiction to the far away places of imaginary worlds. Jane Langton’s classic piece on fantasy from the 1973 Horn Book, “The Weak Place in the Cloth” provides an apt and lovely […]

Five questions for Sharon G. Flake

Photo: Richard Kelly

Is Mr. Davenport a vampire, as Octobia May insists? The answer is not so cut-and-dried in Sharon G. Flake’s Unstoppable Octobia May, a historical-fiction-cum-mystery-novel with more than a dash of social commentary (Scholastic, 9–12 years). From the 1950s boarding house setting to the vivid characters — some plucky, some humorous, some downright sinister — the […]

International Picture Books…books I wish were eligible

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Today you are in for a treat. Julie Danielson, author of the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog, is here to chat with me about international books. Before we start, I should say that I could have included about thirty links to her excellent blog but was too lazy. Please, pour yourself a cup of coffee, carve […]

Thom’s Rules of Order: Ten Tips for Good Book Discussion

book stack

Many of us who read and consider books for young people in 
some professional capacity know group book discussion to be one 
of the most rewarding parts of the job. Few gratifications compare with enlightened, book-focused repartee in intelligent company. These discussions take many forms, from conversations around a kitchen table or in a college […]

Where’s Mommy?

wheres mommy

Travis Jonker recently documented the overlap between the New York Times Best Illustrated List and books that have won Caldecott recognition — well done, Travis! — and since there’s no arguing with cold, hard facts, we here at Calling Caldecott are paying attention. By my reckoning, half the books on the 2014 NYT List are […]

Girls in Towers

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Madeleine L’Engle’s novel Camilla (titled Camilla Dickinson when first published in 1951 and recently reissued) features a bright and passionate fifteen-year-old who presents us with the essential question of the YA genre — how will this girl survive the emotional chaos of adolescence? In fairy tales, this same question is more logistical — how will […]

Beyond the Magically (Dis)abled

mcgovern_say what you will

This past May, Twitter broke out in a glorious maelstrom of activity around the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks that was thrilling to follow and — once I realized the plea wasn’t only for more books with central characters of color — even more thrilling to join. As the mother of a teenager with autism, the founder of […]