The Horn Book Publications about books for children and young adults Fri, 06 May 2016 18:00:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mock award results | Class #6, 2016 Fri, 06 May 2016 18:00:52 +0000 threegroups_Lolly4_2016_550x370

Three of the book award committees deliberating during last night’s class

The children’s lit class met for the last time last night and we held six (6!) mock book award deliberations. Each student chose which award they wanted to judge and had free reign to nominate any eligible book. I’m pretty sure every last one of them also brought snacks to fuel their discussions.

You can see the nominated books at this post. We followed the ALA rules up to a point, given that we only had two hours and the committees had six, or seven members rather than fifteen. There was a Geisel, a Sibert, and four Caldecott committees. Unlike last year’s class when all committees went to multiple ballots and one group finally had to flip a coin after five ballots, three of this year’s groups had a winner on the first ballot!

Here they are:

willems_i will take a nap    mattick_finding-winnie_170x170    miyares_float_170x120    engle_drum-dream-girl_170x211    miyares_float_170x120    de-la-pena_last-stop-on-market-street_170x210

Geisel: I Will Take a Nap!; Sibert: Finding Winnie; and the four Caldecotts had only one duplication, Float, winning on two committees while Drum Dream Girl and Last Stop on Market Street took the top slot on the other two.

After one book had a majority of members choosing it for first place, they discussed honor books. Here’s what they chose:

lin_ling-and-ting-together-in-all-weather         emannuels-dream   andrew_trombone shorty

Geisel had one honor book (Ling & Ting) and Sibert had two (Emmanuel’s Dream and Trombone Shorty).

For the Caldecott groups, I was surprised to see only one overlap in the honor books:

agee_its-only-stanley_170x231   leo_ghoststory

boats for papa   de-la-pena_last-stop-on-market-street_170x210   red_crayonstory  

bond_outofwoods_170x213   boats for papa


At the end of our time, each committee presented its winner and honor books. The entire evening was such a big payoff for me as a teacher. I got to watch the students work collaboratively and mostly independent of instructors who were just there to answer questions about the process and make sure discussions remained focused on the all-important Terms & Criteria. The reasons they gave for choosing their winners were spot-on.

We read Charlotte’s Web for this last class, and at the end of my time teaching I always feel like Wilbur watching Charlotte’s babies fly away on the warm breeze, able to thrive on their own without help. With luck, a few of this year’s students will be like Joy, Aranea, and Nellie and decide to stick around to write for this blog.

The Sibert committee discusses their books

The Sibert committee discusses their books. Caldecott 1 is in the background.

Boats for Papa is presented to Caldecott 2

Boats for Papa is presented to Caldecott 2

Caldecott 1 presents

Caldecott 1 presents It’s Only Stanley



Presenting the winners

Showing the winners (Drum Dream Girl)

Presenting the winners (Finding Winnie)

Showing the winners (Finding Winnie)

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Mother: Treat Her Right 2016 Fri, 06 May 2016 16:00:14 +0000 What’s better than hearing Mr. T extol the virtues of mothers? (that would be: nothing)

fowler_my-mother-my-heartYou know who else loved their mothers? Abraham Lincoln (“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother”) and John Quincy Adams (“All that I am, my mother made me”), among others, whose pithy remarks are scattered throughout My Mother, My Heart: A Joyful Book to Color by Eleri Fowler (HarperCollins, March 2016). If the recent adult-coloring-book craze is your thing, grab a drawing implement and spend Mother’s Day filling in the “pretty patterns, gorgeous florals,” birds, butterflies, owls, cupcakes, stars, and other decorative items that fill the book’s pages, or pass it along to a mother.

We have some exciting news to share! In the fall, The Horn Book will be launching a new parent-themed blog. You’re the first to know. More details to come very soon…

While you’re waiting, here are some Horn Book links and articles to celebrate Mom on her special day.

“Words for Flora’s Mother (and Other Imperfect Parents)” by Megan Dowd Lambert. From the May/June 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

chair for my motherVera B. Williams’ Boston Globe-Horn Book Award speech for A Chair for My Mother. From the February 1984 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

YA Mother-Daughter Reading Recommendations. From Out of the Box.

Hooray for Grandma! From the May 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

And here are some new mother- and grandmother-themed picture books, all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine:





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Boston-area events in May Fri, 06 May 2016 15:57:08 +0000 It’s a busy month for Boston bibliophiles! Here’s a small sampling of events coming up in May; check out our event calendar for all details and even more events.

The 2016 Kids Reading Across Rhode Island program will feature graphic novelist Victoria Jamieson, creator of the 2016 Newbery Honor book Roller Girl. Meet Jamieson at one of two events: tonight, Friday, May 6th, at 5:30 pm at the Rochambeau Library ($10); and tomorrow, Saturday, May 7th, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm at the Rhode Island State House for the Kids Reading Across Rhode Island Kick Off Celebration.

yee_wonder woman at super hero highLisa Yee will be reading from and signing Wonder Woman at Super Hero High at The Blue Bunny tomorrow, Saturday the 7th, at 2:00 pm.

Also happening tomorrow, Saturday the 7th, at 2:00 pm: Robert McCloskey’s daughter Sal and author/illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky present a special 75th anniversary reading of Make Way for Ducklings at the BPL’s Central Branch.

On Tuesday, May 10th, at 12:00 pm, Thanhhà Lai will discuss her National Book Award–winning novel Inside Out & Back Again at the BPL’s Central Branch.

At 7:00 pm on Tuesday the 10th, Erin Bowman will moderate a panel discussion with Harriet Reuter Hapgood, Cecilia Ahern, Marie Rutkoski, and Sandy Hall for the Fierce Reads Spring 2016 Tour stop at Wellesley Books.

Meg Cabot will visit Wellesley Books at 7:00 pm on Thursday, May 12th, to celebrate the release of Royal Wedding Disaster, the second entry in her middle-grade series From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess.

Author Anna Staniszewski will teach a writing workshop for teens at the BPL’s Central Branch at 11:00 am on Saturday, May 14th.

YA mystery authors Kim Savage, Emily Ross, Diana Renn, and Rebecca Podos will participate in a panel discussion at the North Dartmouth Barnes & Noble at 12:00 pm on Saturday the 14th.

wicks_coral reefsGraphic novelist Maris Wicks will celebrate the publication of Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean at the Prudential Barnes & Noble at 2:00 pm on Saturday the 14th.

The exhibit “Mo Willems: We Are in an Exhibition!” opens at the R. Michelson Galleries on Sunday, May 15th.

Cece Bell and Tom Angleberger will discuss their processes and sign their books at 1:00 pm at The Carle Museum on Sunday the 15th. Free with museum admission.

On Sunday the 15th at 2:00 pm, Anna Staniszewski will have a double book launch party for The Dirt Diary #4: The Truth Game and Switched at First Kiss #2: Finders Reapers at Wellesley Books.

The 18th Annual PEN-NE Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Awards will be presented to the winners at Simmons College at 6:30 pm on Sunday the 15th.

Jeanne Birdsall and Susan Hill Long will visit the Brookline Public Library on 3:30 pm on Tuesday, May 17th.

The Burlington Barnes & Noble will host a special storytime with author/illustrator Mo Willems at 11:00 am on Saturday, May 21st.

Author/illustrator Yuyi Morales will visit the BPL’s East Boston Branch on Wednesday, May 25th, at 1:30 pm.

stiefvater_raven kingSee YA author Maggie Stiefvater at either of two local events for the publication of The Raven King, the fourth book of The Raven Cycle. She will visit An Unlikely Story at 7:00 pm on Wednesday the 25th and the Brookline Public Library at 7:00 pm on the following evening, Thursday the 26th. Both events require registration.

The May KidLit Drink Night will take place Tuesday, May 31st, at 5:30 pm. More details to come at the KidLit Drink Night Facebook group.

Have a local event you’d like to see listed on our calendar? Email the info to cbb (at)

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It IS raining in Boston this week! Thu, 05 May 2016 19:50:20 +0000 Some of Roger’s smallest fans send him a thank-you.



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iLearnWith Max & Ruby: Science! app review Thu, 05 May 2016 16:25:28 +0000 max and ruby titleiLearnWith Max & Ruby: Science! (Tribal Nova, 2013) features the beloved characters from Rosemary Wells’s books and TV show playing backyard games to illustrate some basic scientific concepts. As the app opens, Max and Ruby stand in front of three game options: “Water Blast,” “Ball-O-Rama,” and “Make Believe.” Just tap the game you’d like to play to begin. (I started with Water Blast because I liked the little kiddie pool — it reminded me of summer.) Ruby shows you a little tutorial on how to play before each game, then it’s your turn.

max and ruby menu

In Water Blast, the screen shows a long pipe with missing pieces, leading to a kiddie pool; you are given a set of pipe sections at the bottom to complete it. It took me a moment to realize that I was being timed in the upper right hand corner of the screen. The longer I took to complete the pipe, the fewer stars I received. (Collect stars in the first two games to earn special stickers to use in the third activity.) Once the pipe is complete, tap the faucet to make water flow into the kiddie pool. As the levels go up, the pipe configurations become more elaborate. At the end of each level, a brief animation shows various ways completing the pipe helped Max and Ruby use the water: watering plants, swimming in their now-full pool, etc. The animations are an encouraging touch — I wanted to help complete more pipes to find out what animation would come next.

Ball-O-Rama is a simplified version of pinball. Pull back a ball and release it to shoot it towards a hole. This game involves a bit more calculation than Water Blast. Luckily, a helpful arrow shows the trajectory of the ball. Just like the previous game, it becomes more difficult with each level, adding balls, holes, and obstacles. In one level there was a bar in the middle to maneuver around, and it took me a couple tries to make the shot (next time though!). Different ball weights and sizes — from tennis ball to Skee-Ball to bowling ball — affect how fast and far the ball moves.

max and ruby ball-o-rama

Make Believe starts out with an empty garden background. A menu at the top offers characters, objects, and settings from the show; make a scene using these character and object stickers. I tapped on Ruby’s category first and selected the bow icon, and Ruby appeared in the garden in a pretty pink-ribboned dress. Each icon has a small associated animation: for example, Ruby adjusts her bow when she first pops up on the screen. If you drag a character or object forward or backwards in the scene, it gets bigger or smaller to illustrate perspective. The sticker options cover a range of seasonal items (such as pumpkins) and activities (including Max jumping out of a snowdrift).

Overall, the app is simple and engaging. The setup is just simple tap-and-go, but since the levels get difficult the more you play it doesn’t get boring. The animations are very clear and look just like the cartoon. Upbeat, old-timey swing music in the background adds to the cheery backyard-fair atmosphere.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 6.0 or later); free. Full version $3.99. Recommended for preschool users.

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Cinco de Mayo reading Thu, 05 May 2016 15:32:04 +0000 It’s Cinco de Mayo! Celebrate with this updated list of books starring the holiday itself, Mexican and Mexican American protagonists, and the Spanish language — all recommended at the time of publication by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide. (For more recommended Spanish-language and bilingual books, click here.)

Picture books

ada_let me helpIn Alma Flor Ada’s Let Me Help! / ¡Quiero ayudar!, pet parrot Perico knows how to say “Let me help!” He repeats this statement as his (human) family members prepare for the San Antonio Cinco de Mayo festival. They shoo him away, but to everyone’s surprise he eventually finds a way to help. Angela Domínguez’s warm-hearted illustrations — from a bird’s-eye view — support the family-centered text, printed in both English and Spanish. (Children’s Book Press, 2010)

brown_maya's blanketWhen Maya Morales is little, her grandmother makes her a blanket, a “special manta” that morphs into different (progressively smaller) things as Maya grows up. Based on the Yiddish folk song “I Had a Little Coat” (and inspired by her Jewish and Latina heritage), Monica Brown Maya’s Blanket / La manta de Maya is a contemporary story, in English and Spanish, with a timeless-folktale feel. David Diaz’s mixed-media illustrations are warm and joyful. (Lee/Children’s, 2015)

cumpiano_quinito day and nightQuinito describes, in English and Spanish, his family, friends, and activities in terms of opposites: “My Mami is short. My Papi is tall…I’m just the right size.” Quinito, Day and Night / Quinito, día y noche by Ina Cumpiano succeeds as a book of opposites, an exposition of bilingual vocabulary, and an engaging portrayal of family and neighborhood. José Ramírez’s naive-style paintings in warm colors over black are both comforting and energy-packed. (Children’s Book Press, 2008)

kent_el perro con sombreroIn Derek Taylor Kent’s El perro con sombrero: A Bilingual Doggy Tale, Pepe is a lonely dog until he finds a hat and becomes el perro con sombrero, a famous movie star. Disaster strikes when a jealous cat steals his sombrero, but it helps Pepe realize there is something better than fame. Jed Henry’s illustrations are lively, funny, and filled with action, and the alternation between the English and Spanish translations feels natural. (Holt, 2015)

medina_mango, abuela, and meMia worries when her “far-away grandmother” arrives in Meg Medina’s Mango, Abuela, and Me. Abuela doesn’t speak English, and Mia’s “español is not good enough to tell her the things an abuela should know.” A pet-store parrot named Mango allows Mia and her abuela to truly connect. This heartwarming story about finding common ground and adapting to change is accompanied by Angela Dominguez’s illustrations, which capture the characters’ emotions and moods. Recipient of both a 2016 Belpré Author Honor and a Belpré Illustrator Honor. (Candlewick, 2015)

medina_tia isa wants a carThe young narrator of Meg Medina’s Tía Isa Wants a Car, who lives in America with her aunt and uncle, describes how Tía Isa wants a car, one that’s “the same shiny green as the ocean.” However, they don’t have enough money — yet. The narrator incorporates Spanish words naturally, giving the dialogue an authenticity that is neither laborious nor stilted. Soft watercolor illustrations by Claudio Muñoz mirror the text. Also available in a Spanish-language edition. (Candlewick, 2011)

mora_i pledge allegianceIn Pat Mora and Libby Martinez’s I Pledge Allegiance, a Mexican American girl and her great-aunt Lobo learn the Pledge of Allegiance: young Libby practices so she can lead her class at school; Lobo will recite the Pledge at her upcoming citizenship ceremony. Their love for each other is affectionately shown in Patrice Barton’s soft, digitally rendered illustrations, full of red, white, and blue. An author’s note introduces the real Lobo. (Knopf, 2014)

Nino Wrestles the WorldPint-sized Niño, fearless luchador and reluctantly attentive big brother, dons his red mask, ready to take on all comers, in Niño Wrestles the World. He battles a series of imagined foes from Mexican history and popular culture before facing the trickiest of opponents, las hermanitas! Working in digital collage, author/illustrator Yuyi Morales packs every polychromatic double-page spread with action, trying — not quite successfully, fortunately — to contain Niño’s energy within their frames. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 2013)

reiser_my wayAuthor/illustrator Lynn Reiser uses the bilingual structure of My Way: A Margaret and Margarita Story / A mi manera: Un cuento de Margarita y Margaret in an ingenious way, with the English (Margaret’s voice) and Spanish (Margarita’s) mirroring each other on facing pages, but with each girl presenting a distinct self. Reiser’s cheerful primary-bright palette signals readers that friends liking different things is just fine. A satisfying, upbeat reminder that kids can be true to themselves and be a good friend, too. (Greenwillow, 2007)

saenz_perfect season for dreamingA Perfect Season for Dreaming / Un tiempo perfecto para soñar begins on the first day of summer as Octavio Rivera begins to dream. He shares these visions with his granddaughter Regina, who also experiences dreams as if they are “good friends who…console you when you’re lonely.” Author Benjamin Alire Sáenz beautifully evokes a dream state with long, languorous sentences in English and Spanish. Esau Andrade Valencia’s richly hued and textured surrealist tableaux are both accessible and inspired. (Cinco, 2008)

soto_big bushy mustacheIn Big Bushy Mustache by Gary Soto and Joe Cepeda, the only costume Ricky wants to wear for his class’s Cinco de Mayo play is a big, bushy mustache, because it looks just like Papi’s. When he wears it home from school to show his parents, he loses it along the way. Papi’s solution — he generously offers his own freshly shaved mustache — is a little unlikely, but the warm family relationship, emphasized in Cepeda’s bold paintings, comes across nevertheless. (Knopf, 1998)

thong_green is a chile pepperIn Roseanne Greenfield Thong’s festive concept book Green Is a Chile Pepper, all the colors found in a Latino neighborhood are described in rhyming text with frequent Spanish words, explained in detail in a glossary. The objects described, such as ristras, piñatas, and faroles, are staples of Mexican culture, but John Parra’s folk art–style paintings, stuffed with entertaining details, make them universally understandable and appealing. (Chronicle, 2014)

tonatiuh_dear primoTwo cousins, one in Mexico and the other in America, write letters to each other about their everyday lives in Duncan Tonatiuh’s Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin. Facing pages demonstrate how their cultural differences are far less important than their commonalities. Take the boys’ favorite foods, for example: it’s quesadillas for Carlitos and pizza for Charlie. Side-by-side illustrations show similar images: both boys seated, with food in hand. A clever, well-executed conceit. (Abrams, 2010)



ada_dancing homeMexican American fifth-grader Margie, star of Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta’s Dancing Home, tries hard to project an all-American image. This works until her cousin Lupe arrives from Mexico to live with Margie’s family. Alternating narration, injected with Spanish-language phrases, brings out the difficulties of language-learning and peer acceptance from each girl’s perspective. Authors Ada and Zubizarreta provide a sympathetic view of an immigrant child’s experience. (Atheneum, 2011)

ada_love amaliaAmalia is devastated when she learns her best friend is moving to California; fortunately, her abuelita comforts her with stories about loved ones far away. When Abuelita suddenly dies, Amalia must draw on what her grandmother has taught her to accept her grief and anger. Love, Amalia, written by Alma Flor Ada and illustrated by Gabriel M. Zubizarreta, portrays a multigenerational immigrant family with sensitively drawn characters and a low-key story. Concurrently published in Spanish. (Atheneum, 2012)


ryan_esperanza risingIn Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan’s poignant look at the realities of immigration, thirteen-year-old Esperanza, daughter of an affluent Mexican rancher, is forced to trade fancy dolls and dresses for hard work and ill-fitting hand-me-downs after her beloved father dies. Laboring in the United States, picking grapes on someone else’s land for pennies an hour, Esperanza is transformed into someone who can take care of herself and others. (Scholastic, 2000)



banks_joyrideLove triumphs in Anna Banks’s Romeo and Juliet–esque tale Joyride. Carly Vega is an impoverished Mexican American girl working night shifts to help her deported parents get back to America; Arden Moss is the wealthy Caucasian son of a racist sheriff. Carly’s conflicted response to familial responsibility and the significance of her complex problems with United States immigration policy are convincingly wrought. (Feiwel, 2015)

de la pena_mexican white boyThe one place Danny feels accepted is the baseball field. He imagines becoming a star, making his father proud enough to return from Mexico. Matt de la Peña’s Mexican White Boy is a fast-paced baseball story is unique in its gritty realism, framed in the context of broken homes and bicultural pressures. De la Peña poignantly conveys the message that, despite obstacles, you must shape your own future. (Delacorte, 2008)

mcneal_dark waterFifteen-year-old Pearl starts an illicit relationship with Amiel, an undocumented migrant laborer. When fire consumes southern California, Pearl abandons her family to warn Amiel of the approaching flames. Pearl ominously hints at impending disaster throughout the narrative; this foreshadowing heightens the climax’s suspense. Inspired by southern California’s 2007 fires, Laura McNeal’s National Book Award finalist novel Dark Water captures the desperation of both love and survival with wrenching authenticity. (Knopf, 2010)

pérez_out of darknessTwo teens, Mexican American Naomi and African American Wash, fall in love and struggle to keep their relationship secret in racist 1936 east Texas. Ashley Hope Pérez’s 2016 Printz Honor Book Out of Darkness weaves in the forces that led up to the 1937 New London school explosion, a tragedy rooted in the era’s violent abuse against minorities. A poignant, potent, and provocative historical drama steeped in well-researched factual details. (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015)

quintero_gabi a girl in pieces Gabi, a light-skinned Hispanic girl who is maybe a little bit too curvy, is no stranger to trouble. Her father is a meth addict, her brother’s a budding graffiti artist, her best friend’s pregnant, and another friend is homeless after coming out to his father. Blisteringly honest diary entries mix with poetry to create a beautifully distinct and powerful voice in Isabel Quintero’s 2014 Morris Award winner Gabi, A Girl in Pieces. (Cinco, 2014)

Aristotle and Dante Answer the Secrets of the UniverseTwo boys strike up a friendship that will change their lives in ways both subtle and profound in Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Belpré Author Award–winning Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Ari saves Dante’s life but breaks his own legs in the process, cementing the bond between the two Mexican American families. Ari’s first-person narrative — poetic, philosophical, honest — skillfully develops the relationship between the two boys from friendship to romance. (Simon, 2012)

saldana_finding our wayIn the eleven disparate coming-of-age cuentos about Chicano culture collected in Finding Our Way: Stories, author Rene Saldaña Jr. forces the reader to experience the linguistic world of many of his protagonists — the decision to offer no glossary for the Spanish phrases that infuse his text serves as a curative disadvantage for the English-speaking reader. Never maudlin or overdrawn, these taut but lyrical tales bring light into the corners of kids’ lives. (Random/Lamb, 2003)



Poetry, folklore, and nonfiction

Muu MooAlma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy’s ¡Muu, Moo!: Rimas de animales / Animal Nursery Rhymes collects sixteen traditional nursery rhymes. Spanish is the preeminent language, with each rhyme presented first in Spanish and then in a free retelling in English (by Rosalma Zubizarreta) that captures the flavor of the original. This will be an invaluable resource for librarians and teachers, and with soft, warm watercolor illustrations by Viví Escrivá, it also makes an attractive gift book.

argueta_salsaJorge Argueta’s bilingual cooking poem Salsa: Un poema para cocinar / A Cooking Poem plays on the multiple meanings of salsa for a musical recipe (although the lack of measurements may leave some readers perplexed). As a boy and his family prepare salsa roja, his imagination runs wild, ingredients becoming instruments. Onomatopoeia and detailed ingredient descriptions play on various senses; Duncan Tonatiuh’s Mesoamerican-inspired drawings in earthy tones suit the poem’s combination of traditional and modern. (Groundwood, 2015)

bernier-grand_diego bigger than lifeIn free verse, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand’s Diego: Bigger than Life chronicles the childhood of Mexican painter Diego Rivera, before highlighting the passions (art, women, politics) of his adult life. These vignettes are appropriately accompanied by David Diaz’s vibrantly colored mixed-media silhouettes and occasionally — and to great effect — Rivera’s own paintings. An author’s note and quotes by Rivera are appended. (Cavendish, 2009)

delacre_arrorro mi ninoSelector/illustrator Lulu Delacre includes the best known Latino lullabies and finger plays in her collection Arrorro mi nino: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games, a veritable Latina Mother Goose. The fifteen selections are presented bilingually; the English versions are literal (unrhymed) translations of the original Spanish. Oil-wash illustrations capture lovely scenes of mothers and grandmothers with children and offer glimpses of Latino life. Finger-play instructions and music are included. (Lee and Low, 2004)

hayes_coyote under the tableThe Coyote Under the Table / El coyote debajo de la mesa: Folktales Told in Spanish and English, Joe Hayes’s collection of bilingual folktales drawn from the Hispanic New Mexico oral tradition, provides refreshing depth and humor. Brief source notes expand on the history of each of the ten tales and add social/historical context. Clean, unencumbered prose draws attention to the structure and rhythm of the stories, which are best read aloud. Antonio L.Castro’s amusing illustrations face the start of each entry. (Cinco Puntos, 2011)

Viva FridaIn Viva Frida, Yuyi Morales initially shows Kahlo as a puppet: made from steel, polymer clay, and wool, three-dimensional figures are photographed (by Tim O’Meara) and digitally manipulated inside double-page-spread collages. As we enter Kahlo’s mind, the medium changes to lush acrylics. The illustrations are accompanied by just a few words of text in both Spanish and English that leave readers with a dreamlike impression. An ingenious tour de force. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 2014)

paschkis_flutter and humWritten first in Spanish then translated into English by the (non-native Spanish speaker) author, each of the animal poems in Julie Paschkis’s Flutter & Hum / Aleteo y Zumbido: Animal Poems / Poemas de Animales is intricately connected to its corresponding gouache painting, with additional, thematic words found throughout the pictures. For example, in “Fish / El Pez,” a boy sleeps on a boat that floats above fish swimming in a sea of lulling words: linger, flow; luna, burbuja. Holt 2015

tonatiuh_funny bonesJosé Guadalupe Posada (1852–1915) didn’t invent those iconic Day of the Dead skeletons, but they attained their greatest popularity during the years he drew them. In Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, Duncan Tonatiuh digitally layers various colors and textures onto simple, black-outlined drawings, in his signature flat illustrative style; Posada’s own artwork also plays a prominent role. The straightforward narrative incorporates biographical highlights and personal anecdotes; extended sidebars illustrate printing processes. (Abrams, 2015)

Separate Is Never EqualIn 1947 the Mendez family fought for — and won — the desegregation of schools in California. Duncan Tonatiuh’s Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation uses a child’s viewpoint to succinctly capture the segregated reality of Mexican Americans. The straightforward narrative is well matched with illustrations in Tonatiuh’s signature style, their two-dimensional perspective reminiscent of the Mixtec codex but collaged with paper, wood, etc. to provide textural variation. An author’s note with photos is appended. (Abrams, 2014)

shahan_fiestaIn ¡Fiesta!: A Celebration of Latino Festivals, author Sherry Shahan describes twelve Latino festivals, one for each month of the year, in brief poems accompanied by short explanatory paragraphs. Some of the celebrations, such as Cinco de Mayo and Día de los Muertos, will be familiar; others that are very specific to certain countries or ethnic groups may not be. Paula Barragán’s vibrantly flowing digitally enhanced cut-paper illustrations accompany the text. (August/Little Folk, 2009)


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Review of I Am Pan! Wed, 04 May 2016 15:00:52 +0000 gerstein_i am panstar2 I Am Pan!
by Mordicai Gerstein; 
illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Roaring Brook    80 pp.
3/16    978-1-62672-035-0    $18.99

Never have the first-person point of view and the exclamation point been used more appropriately than in this introduction to the Greek god Pan. Untrammeled ego, low impulse control, resilient, charming — this is a Pan we all recognize. As Hera says, “He delights my heart, but he’s a menace.” In this set of Pan adventures — including the invention of panic; falling in love with the moon; King Midas; the music contest between Pan and Apollo; and the Battle of Marathon — Gerstein artfully re-creates not only the finger-in-a-light-socket energy of a spirited child but the way that young kids tell stories: abrupt, arbitrary, and rich with action. “When we got to Sicily, Zeus picked up Mount Aetna…and dropped it on Typhon’s head. That was the end of the battle.” Pictures match words with a hectic, nervous line; Day-Glo colors; an uppercase hand-lettered text; and a page divided into dozens of varied panel arrangements. Pan is so anxious to get the story started that we don’t even get the title page until the third spread. A genial author’s note and brief list of sources give us some context without squelching this little goat god one iota.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Review of Flannery Tue, 03 May 2016 15:00:24 +0000 moore_flannerystar2 Flannery
by Lisa Moore
High School    Groundwood    272 pp.
5/16    978-1-55498-076-5    $16.95
e-book ed.  978-1-55498-873-0    $16.95

Sixteen-year-old Flannery has a lot on her plate: she can’t afford her biology textbook (in fact, her free-spirited artist mother can’t even pay the utility bill), and her best friend Amber is unhealthily obsessed with a sketchy new boyfriend. Then Flannery is paired up with her crush for her big Entrepreneurship class project. Tyrone had been her fun-loving childhood playground buddy, but now he’s an outlaw graffiti artist who makes Flannery feel all “boom, boom, boom” inside. When Tyrone is around, he’s affable and sincere — just as appealing as Flannery’s earnest swooning seems to justify. When he’s not around (which is often), Flannery is left scrambling to get their project — a love potion business — off the ground. Flannery narrates with a direct, engaging voice that slips fluidly from internal monologue to dialogue (unmarked by punctuation) to flashbacks. Tracking the action through a particular scene can be challenging, but the process of following Flannery’s narrative whims and creative turns of phrase results in an unusually close reader-protagonist interaction. Flannery’s winsome nature is balanced by an honest, aching depiction of the pressures of growing up in poverty as well as an intensifying conflict with her feckless but well-meaning mother. More than a teen romance, this poignant, intimate novel is a thoughtful, mature exploration of the joys — and hazards — of love of all sorts.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Editorial: & Mon, 02 May 2016 15:45:54 +0000 Last fall Horn Book editor Roger Sutton interviewed wife-and-husband picture-book creators Erin E. Stead & Philip C. Stead for our Publishers’ Previews advertising section. Here’s one part of their exchange:

Roger: I’ve always maintained that there’s a significant difference between “and” and “&.”

Erin & Philip: Now that you mention it, there is something about an ampersand that implies a stronger connection between two things. The symbol even looks a bit like a knot of string. Laverne & Shirley, peanut butter & jelly, Philip & Erin — what is one without the other?

As you read this “Collaborations” issue of The Horn Book, look for ampersands.

Some are overt — as in the eight short pieces called Teamwork sprinkled throughout, beginning on page 20. In these contributions — some textual, some visual — authors, illustrators & editors examine their working relationships and shed light on the collaborative process.

Other ampersands are implied. Read Rita Williams-Garcia’s piece on advising new writers and absorb the connections between Rita the writer & Rita the teacher; Rita the respecter of formal literary language & Rita the disciple of the James Brown School of Funk and Fiction; and of course Rita & her lucky students.

A few of the pairings here are familiar. We all look forward with anticipation to the latest Jen Bryant/Melissa Sweet picture-book biography. To a new graphic novel by the Holm siblings, or the Tamaki cousins. But not all the connections in this issue are expected, or ongoing. Lydie Raschka’s cover story on the late, great Vera B. Williams’s one-time collaboration with Chris Raschka is unforgettable — poignant and intimate, and full of Vera’s brave, bold spirit. Those who loved her and her books will relish the life-affirming photos of a barefoot Vera at work, connecting with Chris Raschka over a stack of illustrations; or taking a break, sharing lemonade in the backyard.

And now I’m seeing connections — ampersands — everywhere.

In Lynne Rae Perkins’s Frank and Lucky Get Schooled, reviewed on page 89 of this issue, Frank & his dog Lucky form an ampersand — a tightly knotted pair — as they learn about the world in their own very funny and extremely effective school of two. For instance, they do math, including: “When it’s nighttime, how much of the bed is Lucky’s, and how much is Frank’s?” See the illustration: collaboration in action.

Louise Erdrich’s Makoons (page 100) is all about connections — between twins Chickadee & Makoons, between the boys & their multigenerational Ojibwe family, between their community & the buffalo herds, between old stories & new adventures. Lost connections, too, as the buffaloes’ shrinking territory forces the animals ever farther west and the family follows, minus some of its cherished members.

And do I even need to point out the serendipity of Lisa Brown’s The Airport Book (page 76)? With the controlled chaos of its story arc and the complex and crucial interactions on every spread between text & art, it’s all about making connections — literally and figuratively.

We hope you will find this special issue on collaborations enlightening. At the very least, we hope that it leaves you open to the possibilities suggested by the concept. One such possibility has struck a resonant chord with me. In their Teamwork piece (page 40), authors Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely talk about writing All American Boys together — their motivation, their process, their idea that the novel might serve as a bridge between young people of differing backgrounds and races and experiences. They close with the hope that “we all might walk into the future an arm’s length closer to each other than we were before. That future demands more collaboration, and it’s going to take imagination to see it, and empathy to try to make it happen.”

So look for ampersands everywhere you can. In this issue, in the work we do, out in the world. And maybe we’ll get to that collaborative, empathetic future Jason & Brendan envision. Sooner rather than later.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Collaborations. For more, click the tag Collaborations.

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Horn Book Magazine – May/June 2016 Mon, 02 May 2016 15:40:31 +0000 May/June 2016 Horn Book Magazine

Table of Contents

Special Issue: Collaborations


“Lucky Lady” by Lydie Raschka
Vera B. Williams and Chris Raschka collaborate on her last book.

“Learning to Advise Writers” by Rita Williams-Garcia
On mentoring MFA students.

“Pictures in My Head” by Ann Rider
How an editor pairs an author with “just the right illustrator.”

“Was Jo March a Ravenclaw?: Authors, Fans, and Who Makes the Rules” by Shoshana Flax
Fanfiction and other things that can happen to books outside their covers.

“Nerdy for Life” by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp
Nerdy Book Club members have one thing in common: a voracious love of reading.


“&” by Martha V. Parravano
All about connections.

Foreign Correspondence
“Translator: Trafficking Between Cultures” by Elena Abós
“The text originates in one culture and has to arrive safely in another.”

Field Notes
“Loud in the Library” by Liz Phipps Soeiro
Creating social activists at school.

What Makes a Good…?
“What Makes a Good Storytime?” by Julie Roach

From The Guide
Picture Books in Translation
A selection of reviews from The Horn Book Guide.

Authors, illustrators, and editors share the ways they work together.
Jen Bryant & Melissa Sweet
JonArno Lawson & Sydney Smith
Vaunda Micheaux Nelson & R. Gregory Christie
Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
Candace Fleming & Anne Schwartz
David Fickling & Philip Pullman
Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki


Book Reviews


On the Web
May/June 2016 Starred Books
Teamwork: Contributor Notes and Index
Index to Books Reviewed
Index to Advertisers

Cover photo of collaborators Chris Raschka and Vera B. Williams by Lydie Raschka. Page 2 art © 2016 by Chris Raschka.


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