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The People's Painter

Illustrating a biography of an artist is its own challenge. In The People's Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art — a picture-book biography of artist Ben Shahn, written by Cynthia Levinson — illustrator Evan Turk strikes a balance between allowing Shahn’s influence to infuse the illustrations (his intention, as...


The somber tone of Floyd Cooper’s illustrations in Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, begins on the cover. The family — mother, father, and two young girls — is obviously in distress as they appear to flee a scene of fire and destruction. For those of us in...

Week in Review, September 13th-17th

  This week on   Calling Caldecott: Bear Island by Dean Schneider Mel Fell by Brian Wilson The Rock from the Sky by Betsy Bird   Family Reading: Books for Yom Kippur   Reviews of the Week: Starred Picture Book: The Fox and the Forest Fire by Danny Popovici...

The Rock from the Sky

I’ve always harbored a pet Caldecott theory. You know how some artists will win Caldecott Awards and Honors over and over again, while others never seem to get a foot in the door? I have often wondered if there was a window of opportunity there. Get in while you’re new —...

Books for Yom Kippur

This year -- 2021/5782 -- Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins this evening, September 15, at sundown. Following Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, these are times for family, community, and self-reflection. The following books could be useful for sharing with children and/or for generating discussions. All reviews are...

Mel Fell

Author-illustrator Corey R. Tabor’s exuberant Mel Fell starts with a dramatic announcement from a baby kingfisher named Mel: today, with her mama away, is the day she will learn how to fly. Hiding in a tree hole, her siblings, Pim and Pip, watch with great concern as Mel marches to the end...

Bear Island

When I was on the 2018 Caldecott committee, we chose Matthew Cordell’s Wolf in the Snow. In preparing for our deliberations, we read and re-read the book. Sounds funny to say that, when there are hardly any words in it, and the ones that are there are sound effects: “bark! bark! bark!” and...

Week in Review, September 6th-10th

  This week on September Notes from the Horn Book Newsletter: 5Qs for Marcie Colleen and Aaron Becker about Survivor Tree; 5 picture books remembering tragedies; 6 wordless picture book wonders; 5 middle grade and middle school ghost stories and urban legends; 4 Latinx-centered sci-fi + fantasy YA for...

Outside, Inside

There is so much to notice and appreciate about LeUyen Pham’s Outside, Inside that it’s hard to know where to start. This is a book about the COVID-19 pandemic, a book that explains the major societal changes the onset of the pandemic wrought in a way that the many preschoolers who...
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