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Review of The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas; illus. by Erin E. Stead Primary    Dial    40 pp. 8/16    978-0-8037-3868-3    $17.99    g Working as a kind of seaside mail carrier, the Uncorker of Ocean Bottles seeks out all the floating messages in bottles and delivers them to their proper recipients. The wistful Uncorker, shown going to […]

Review of A Hanukkah with Mazel

A Hanukkah with Mazel by Joel Edward Stein; illus. by Elisa Vavouri Primary    Kar-Ben    32 pp. 9/16    978-1-4677-8171-8    $17.99 Paper ed.  978-1-4677-8176-3    $7.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-5124-0936-9    $6.99 Artist Misha doesn’t have much, but he has enough milk to share with the cat he finds in his barn, whom he names Mazel (“luck”). He can’t […]

Review of The Branch

The Branch by Mireille Messier; illus. by Pierre Pratt Primary    Kids Can    32 pp. 9/16    978-1-77138-564-0    $16.95 A little girl mourns when a large branch breaks off from her favorite tree during an ice storm: “That was the branch I sat on, jumped from, played under. It was my castle, my spy base, my ship…” […]

Recommended Picture Books: Picture Books for Older Readers

Coy, John  Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Carolrhoda Illustrated by Randy DuBurke. Coy tells the dramatic story of an illegal, secret basketball game in Jim Crow–era North Carolina between the white Duke University Medical School team and the black North Carolina College of Negroes team. The succinct narrative […]

Recommended Picture Books: Picture Book Biographies

Barton, Chris  Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions Gr. K–3     40 pp.     Charlesbridge Illustrated by Don Tate. Barton follows African American inventor Johnson, from his childhood tinkering through winning first place at a 1968 science fair, attending Tuskegee Institute, engineering for NASA, and developing a super-blast water gun. Barton describes Johnson’s ups and downs […]

Recommended Picture Books: Metafictive Picture Books

Barnett, Mac  How This Book Was Made: Based on a True Story Gr. K–3     48 pp.     Disney/Hyperion Illustrated by Adam Rex. Barnett and Rex tongue-in-cheekily describe the process of creating a book. “Ideas can come at funny times,” muses Barnett, shown as a cartoon character arm-wrestling a tiger. It only gets wackier from there, as […]

Books mentioned in the December 2016 issue of What Makes a Good…?

What Makes a Good Picture Book? Wordless Picture Books Becker, Aaron  Return Gr. K–3     40 pp.     Candlewick     2016 ISBN 978-0-7636-7730-5 Boyd, Lizi  Flashlight Preschool     40 pp.     Chronicle     2014 ISBN 978-1-4521-1894-9 Cole, Henry  Spot, the Cat Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Little Simon     2016 ISBN 978-1-4814-4225-1 Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-4226-8 Idle, Molly  Flora and […]

Recommended Picture Books: Wordless Picture Books

Becker, Aaron  Return Gr. K–3    40 pp.     Candlewick This third wordless installment (Journey; Quest) brings the story full circle. The father of the lonely girl with a red crayon follows her into the steampunk-meets-fantasy kingdom to share in the adventure. Becker is at his best creating lush, mysterious landscapes. Return‘s plot is, happily, […]

Five questions for Robin Smith of Calling Caldecott

Since its debut in 2011, The Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott blog has been a destination for picture-book lovers eager to discuss favorite books in the months leading up to ALA annual — and to make their best guesses about what will win Caldecott gold. The Calling Caldecott team is Martha Parravano, executive editor of The Horn […]

Review of Nanette’s Baguette

Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems; illus. by the author Primary    Hyperion    40 pp. 10/16    978-1-4847-2286-2    $17.99    g Willems’s latest picture book takes place in France, where the mother of a young anthropomorphic frog entrusts her daughter, the eponymous Nanette, with the responsibility of purchasing a baguette. The village Nanette traverses on her way to the […]