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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 […]

From the Editor – August 2016

Perhaps it was only ever a fantasy of mine that every child in America started the school year on the same day I always did (the Tuesday after Labor Day) but now, all over the map, it’s all over the map. And for those unfortunates who attend “year-round school” — do they still get a […]

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

What Makes a Good School Story? Picture Books Bean, Jonathan This Is My Home, This Is My School 48 pp.     Farrar     2015     ISBN 978-0-374-38020-5 Bell, Cece Chuck and Woodchuck 32 pp.     Candlewick     2016     ISBN 978-0-7636-7524-0 Bottner, Barbara Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) Illustrated by Michael Emberley 32 pp.     Knopf     2010     ISBN 978-0-375-84682-3 Library […]

Five Questions for Adam Rex and Christian Robinson

School’s First Day of School (Roaring Brook/Porter, 2016) by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson, provides a new perspective on the first day of school — that of the building itself. From worry and anticipation to excitement, jealousy, and, finally, contentment and eagerness for the next day, the school’s childlike reactions will be understood by […]

Recommended School Stories: High School

Alsenas, Linas Beyond Clueless 249 pp. Abrams/Amulet 2015. ISBN 978-1-4197-1496-2 Ever since fifth grade, Martha “Marty” Sullivan has been happy with just one friend: flamboyantly gay Jimmy. But now she’s attending an all-girls’ Catholic high school, which expands her social horizons both among girls (rebellious new friend Xiang) and guys. This mostly light comedy of […]