Review of The No. 1 Car Spotter

The No. 1 Car Spotter

The No. 1 Car Spotter by Atinuke; illus. by Warwick Johnson Cadwell Primary, Intermediate    Kane Miller    112 pp. 9/11    Paper ed.  978-1-61067-051-7    $5.99 Oluwalase Babatunde Benson, called No. 1, is the best car spotter in his African village. His unnamed country has cities and towns with skyscrapers, hotels, offices, tap water, electricity, and televisions, but […]

O Christmas Books!


I was the type of kid who lingered in stairwells trying to overhear adult conversation and who sneaked downstairs to catch my babysitter making out with her boyfriend. As a six-year-old, I blew Santa’s cover after noticing that “his” handwriting on gift labels was just like my dad’s. My mother was aghast to learn I’d told […]

Review of First Day on Earth

First Day On Earth

First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci Middle School, High School    Scholastic    150 pp. 11/11    978-0-545-06082-0    $17.99 “Why is the hardest question in the world to answer.” And sixteen-year-old Mal (short for Malcolm) asks why a lot: Why did his father leave? Why did his mother fall apart? Why did aliens abduct him, probe him, […]

Review of The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster; illus. by Jules Feiffer; annotated by Leonard S. Marcus Knopf    284 pp. 10/11   978-0-375-85715-7   $29.99 Library ed. 978-0-375-95715-4   $32.99 If ever there were a twentieth-century children’s book that deserved an annotated edition, it’s Juster and Feiffer’s masterpiece, first published fifty years ago. Filled with […]

Review of Bailey


Bailey by Harry Bliss; illus. by the author Primary    Scholastic    32 pp. 8/11    978-0-545-23344-6    $16.99 Bailey loves school, where he is by far the most popular student. Then again, he is the only dog at Champlain Elementary School. No one can resist a dog who hangs his head out the school bus window, willing the […]

Review of The Princess of Borscht

The Princess of Borscht

The Princess of Borscht by Leda Schubert; illus. by Bonnie Christensen Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    32 pp. 11/11    978-1-59643-515-5    $17.99 Though the book opens with Ruthie and her father at the hospital visiting Ruthie’s grandmother, laid up with pneumonia, this isn’t a coping-with-death book. Bubbe’s not failing, she’s a finagler. Unsatisfied by hospital food (“a person […]

What Makes a Good Space Book?

scott_space, stars, and the beginning of time

The vastness of the universe, explored and unexplored, presents possibilities for all of us to imagine new and different (and perhaps better) worlds, technological feats, and ourselves as active participants in the quest for knowledge beyond our own planet. A good space book captures this melding of anticipation and discovery that lies at the heart […]

The Sign on Sendak’s Door


Although grateful for the support of publishers who place advertisements in The Horn Book, I’ve never before felt the need to direct you to such from this page. But I do so now: please go and read the advertisement on page 57 and then come back here. I’ll wait. Imagine a picture book world where […]

Horn Book Magazine — November/December 2011

November/December 2011 Horn Book Magazine cover

Table of Contents     Features Mo Willems 11 Why Books? An adaptation of the author’s 2011 Zena Sutherland Lecture. Jack Gantos 18 Mausoleum Madness Or, children’s books six feet under. Barbara Bader 41 Nonfiction: What’s Really New and Different—and What Isn’t A response to The Horn Book’s special issue on nonfiction. Ron Koertge 48 […]

Nonfiction: What’s Really New and Different — and What Isn’t

In the age of preschool princesses and teenage werewolves, nonfiction, conspicuously, has class. That came across buoyantly in the March/April 2011 issue of the Horn Book, where prominent persons in the field wrote about their work and what today’s nonfiction aspires to.

Their aims are admirable, their commitment is impressive, their enthusiasm is infectious; as a cadre, they have a lot to be proud of. But not because their work, however fine, surpasses the work of their predecessors. It isn’t better researched or better illustrated, as some of the contributors suggest, and it certainly isn’t more venturesome. In kids’ nonfiction, “going where no adult book has gone before” is nothing new.