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2020 in review

Welcome, 2021! 2020 was a year no one will soon forget (though in-person Midwinter may be a distant memory). Revisit the past twelve months — is that all it has been?! — and lose yourself in the world of children's and YA literature with our annual Horn Book Year in Review.   2020 ALA Awards...

It's Time to Vote! — Calling Caldecott 2021 ballot is now open

Can you all believe that we are one week away from the Caldecott Awards announcement? In case you missed it, here is where you can catch the exciting news next Monday morning. We have covered a big stack of 2020 picture books here at Calling Caldecott since September. We are...

Week in Review, January 11th-15th

  This week on hbook.com... January Notes from the Horn Book Newsletter: 5Qs for Megan Whalen Turner about Return of the Thief; YA world building; primary animal fantasy chapter books, and intermediate STEM Amra Sabic-El-Rayess Talks with Roger about The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War,...

The 2021 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

from Deborah Stevenson: The 2021 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to All He Knew by Helen Frost, published by Farrar Straus and Giroux. It’s 1939, and six-year-old Henry, rendered deaf by illness, has failed a ridiculous single evaluative test, so authorities officially classify him as “unteachable” and direct his straitened...

The 2021 "Books We Wish We Had Time For" list

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One of my favorite things about the 2019 Caldecott Awards was that a book we hadn’t covered here at Calling Caldecott (Brian Lies’s The Rough Patch) up and won an Honor. And I love this, because it proves the point that we are not in the business of predicting winners,...

An evening with Tui T. Sutherland (An artifact from the Beforetimes)  

Last March, I started a post about an author event at the Cambridge Public Library. But I was distracted by ::gestures at 2020:: and eventually decided it wasn’t worth finishing. The idea of attending a non-Zoom author’s talk (i.e., in person) was already weird and dated after a few weeks....

A Note from Me (Jan 15, 2021)

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Dear friends: You know, with a panicking gangster/terrorist still occupying the White House, it’s not easy to write this letter on a Wednesday for publication two days later. Who knows what will happen between now and then? Please join me in looking forward to January 20th. Until then, join me...

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess Talks with Roger

Talks with Roger is a sponsored supplement to our free monthly e-newsletter, Notes from the Horn Book. To receive Notes, sign up here. Sponsored by   In The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival, Amra Sabic-El-Rayess relives her young adult years in the small city of Bihać, besieged during...

Your Place in the Universe

When my siblings and I were young, my mother ordered Time Life’s A Child’s First Encyclopedia of Learning, a series of books that explored a variety of topics about the natural world. I imagine that she ordered the set to address our seemingly insatiable curiosity about the world in which...

Books mentioned in the January 2021 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Megan Whalen Turner Return of the Thief [Queen's Thief] by Megan Whalen Turner; Greenwillow. YA world building Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust; Flatiron. How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories [Folk of the Air] by Holly Black, illus. by Rovina Cai; Little, Brown. Daughters...

From the Editor - January 2021

Though we won’t miss 2020 (good riddance), we will miss the world that Megan Whalen Turner created in her Queen’s Thief series, complete with political maneuvering, backstabbing, power grabs...oh, wait. World-building was perfected by Turner, and is used to great effect in these recent YA titles. If kindhearted skunks and...

Intermediate STEM

Hand the following entertaining and informative STEM-focused nonfiction titles to science-minded middle graders. Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math by Jeannine Atkins Intermediate, Middle School    Atheneum    320 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-5344-6068-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-6070-6    $10.99 Atkins’s (Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science, rev. 7/16) latest collective biography in...

Primary animal fantasy chapter books

These recent animal-fantasy chapter books will thrill, educate, and crack up new readers. Willa the Wisp [The Fabled Stables] by Jonathan Auxier; illus. by Olga Demidova Primary    Amulet/Abrams    96 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-4197-4269-9    $12.99 “At the top of the world sat an island. And at the heart of that island...

YA world building

The following YA titles feature strongly built worlds — some well-known to fans, some brand new — that will sweep readers up with their fantastical details and enthralling adventures. Don’t miss our “Five questions for Megan Whalen Turner,” author of the Queen’s Thief series, which concludes with Return of the...

Five questions for Megan Whalen Turner

Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief (with that never-to-be-bettered twist at the end!) was published in 1996. Now, after six books set in that unforgettably detailed world, full of political machinations, double crosses, dubious motivations, and familial obligations, the series comes to a close with Return of the Thief (Greenwillow, 12...

Over-don't

TFW that overdue library book on which you’d already given up in your heart shows up under a child’s bed! We love libraries and bookstores -- read "Books beyond buildings: Support your local bookstore and library!" by Cindy Ritter and Shoshana Flax....

In a Jar

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Aren’t all of us collectors? If we are conscious of the lives we lead, we know we collect things. We treasure our partners, children, friendships, books, the myriad fine moments that make a life. But look even closer — “see a world in a grain of sand,” as William Blake would...

Prairie Days

Every August, I replace my Caldecott poster with the updated version. Strategically placed near my circulation desk and next to the Caldecott award shelf, it hangs low to the ground to ensure comfortable viewing for even the youngest of students. At the top of the poster is the cover of...

Week in Review, January 4th-8th

  This week on hbook.com...   From the January/February 2021 Horn Book Magazine: Table of Contents Editorial: Happy New Year by Roger Sutton   Read Roger: A Note from Me (Jan 8, 2021)   Calling Caldecott: If You Come to Earth by Dean Schneider In the Half Room by Sabrina...

Julián at the Wedding

We first met Julián in 2018, when Jessica Love’s debut picture book, Julián the Mermaid, came into the world — with Love's use of mixed media on brown paper. The protagonist’s emotional trajectory was tangible, evoking for so many what it feels like to crave acceptance without condition. We get...

A Note from Me (Jan 8, 2021)

Dear friends: Welcome to the end of this week! Better days are coming. Happy New Year to all and I hope you got some restorative time during the holidays, although who knew one would need it quite so quickly? Lori and Richard and I took our annual sojourn in Provincetown,...

In the Half Room

Anyone who’s ever spoken to me about picture books knows how much I love Carson Ellis’s illustrations, and it’s obvious I’m not the only one: in 2017, Du Iz Tak? won a Caldecott Honor. Upon my first reading of In the Half Room, her latest solo picture book, I wished...

Editorial: Happy New Year (January/February 2021)

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I can’t tell you how happy I am to write a January/February editorial where I don’t have to make a snide remark about the new president’s disdain for reading. Joe Biden reads poetry. Out loud, even. ­Goodness knows that an ­appreciation of books is not a guarantee of good character,...

Table of Contents: January/February 2021 Horn Book Magazine

Cover © 2021 by Oge Mora.   Features Horn Book Fanfare by Horn Book editors Our choices for the best books of 2020. Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards BGHB Awards Gallery 2020 Celebrating the winners and honorees in this most unusual year. Fiction and Poetry Nonfiction Picture Book “Sometimes You Have...

If You Come to Earth

How do you fit the whole world between the covers of a picture book? How do you describe our whole world to an alien? Well, narrator Quinn gives it a good shot in If You Come to Earth. (Sophie Blackall avoids gendering Quinn for this book.) Quinn writes, “Dear Visitor...

Week in Review, December 28th-January 1st

  This week on hbook.com...   From the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine: Publishers' Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels - Five Questions for... Alexandra Bracken | John Hare | Raj Haldar | Kat Leyh   Calling Caldecott: The Night Before Christmas by Martha V. Parravano   Out of the...

Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Kat Leyh

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions. Sponsored by...

Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Raj Haldar

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions. Sponsored by...

Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for John Hare

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions. Sponsored by...

The Night Before Christmas

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"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!" Most of us know this line, the ending of Clement C. Moore's classic poem "The Night Before Christmas," first published in 1823. But I promise you, it will hit differently after you read Loren Long's visual interpretation. I get it — a...

Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Alexandra Bracken

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions. Sponsored by...

Horn Book Top 10 (2020)

Here are our Top 10 stories from the year 2020: A Year with Words and Pictures — but No ALA Annual Disturbing the Universe: Books That Broke the Rules An Interview with MacArthur Fellow Jacqueline Woodson Middle-Grade Graphic Novels Make Good How Do You Solve a Problem like Nonfiction? Writing...

Week in Review, December 21st-25th

  This week on hbook.com...   From the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine: Publishers' Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels - Five Questions for... Lily LaMotte | Oge Mora | Elizabeth Zunon | Three Demigoddesses   From the January/February 2021 Horn Book Magazine: "Sometimes You Have to Lie": A Conversation...

Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Three Demigoddesses

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions. Sponsored by...

Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Elizabeth Zunon

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions. Sponsored by...

Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Oge Mora

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions. Sponsored by...

Round Two: Mock Nominations

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It's time for the second round of our mock Caldecott nominations. In mid-November we had round one, asking readers to name their top four choices (so far). Now we are asking for THREE more titles. Why these numbers? Each member of the Real Committee must nominate a total of seven books; the...

Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Lily LaMotte

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions. Sponsored by...

"Sometimes You Have to Lie": A Conversation with Leslie Brody

Nearly sixty years after the publication of Harriet the Spy (Harper, 1964) the book remains as fresh as ever, so it’s not surprising that Harriet’s author was just as captivating. In her new, thoroughly researched biography, Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author...

Week in Review, December 14th-18th

  This week on hbook.com... Sarwat Chadda Talks with Roger about City of the Plague God (Riordan/Disney-Hyperion) A Conversation with Literary Agents on Diversity and Inclusion by Jason Low   From the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine: New for New Readers: How to Publish (What I Think Are) Great Books...

I Am Every Good Thing

One of the criteria for the Caldecott Medal is excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept. One look at Derrick Barnes's and Gordon C. James's I Am Every Good Thing and it is clear that the theme of the book is love for Black boys. The cover of the...

A Note from Me (Dec 18, 2020)

Dear friends: The lights are up, the tree is up, the other lights are up, and the election is over. (Again.) It’s the holidays! This my last missive to you until after the New Year, but I wanted to make sure you had the opportunity to read the new articles...

A Conversation with Literary Agents on Diversity and Inclusion

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At the beginning of 2020, Lee & Low Books released the second iteration of its Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS 2.0), four years after the first survey was released in 2015. Before the DBS was conducted, people suspected that publishing had a diversity problem, but without hard numbers the extent of that problem was anyone’s guess. Although DBS 2.0 newly includes two more areas of the publishing industry...

Sarwat Chadda Talks with Roger

Talks with Roger is a sponsored supplement to our free monthly e-newsletter, Notes from the Horn Book. To receive Notes, sign up here. Sponsored by   In City of the Plague God, Sarwat Chadda sends a young Muslim New Yorker deep, deep into mythology. We’re talking Gilgamesh. I talked on Skype with Sarwat in his...

In the City

I’ll be frank: I’ve got some emotional baggage with Chris Raschka. His Caldecott Award-winning picture book A Ball for Daisy is largely the reason I fell in love with the study of picture books. I was so devoted to the emotional depth of that little pup, as she leapt across...

Family Reading Fanfare for 2020

Earlier this month, the Horn Book announced our Fanfare selections, our best books of the year list for 2020. This was surely a strange year for sharing books with my children, requiring library holds (and contactless pickups); increased e-reading and audiobook-listening; and reading and re-reading old friends from around the house...

New for New Readers: How to Publish (What I Think Are) Great Books for New Readers

Sometime in 2017, I got a call from Bernice Myers, a mid-twentieth-century illustrator of nonfiction picture books and author-illustrator of books for new readers such as Not THIS Bear! Bernice, who hadn’t published a new book for many years, had a story for me, and of course I was happy...

All Because You Matter

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There are many ways one could enter this (singular, spectacular, heartstopping) book, but I can’t imagine starting anywhere other than with the face on the cover. Has a book jacket ever boasted an image so strong, so tender, or so radiant? A portrait of a young boy’s face is encompassed...

Week in Review, December 7th-11th

  This week on hbook.com... December Notes from the Horn Book newsletter - Fanfare Edition: Annotations Extras Ava Weiss (1925-2020) by Kevin Henkes   From the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine: What Makes a Good Hanukkah Picture Book? by Marjorie Ingall   From the January/February 2021 Horn Book Magazine: Issue...

The Blue House

Caldecott terms and criteria stipulate that the Medal goes to a picture book published “during the preceding year.” Although the 2020 publication of Phoebe Wahl’s The Blue House satisfies this term, it feels like it’s been around for a long, long time — while also being utterly groundbreaking. Picture books...

A Note from Me (Dec 11, 2020)

Dear friends: Fanfare is here! (And I’m reminded, once again, of the Horn Book’s continued predilection for music metaphors. Sure, it started with “blowing the horn” and all, but now we have Cadenza, Impromptu…. I can see why the English teacher at our booth at an IRA conference took a...

What Makes a Good Hanukkah Picture Book?

Let’s say, for some reason, you wanted to read the worst Hanukkah picture book ever written. Why would you wish to do this? Well, such a book could serve as a fine blueprint for how not to write a lousy Hanukkah book and/or how not to choose a lousy Hanukkah...

Happy Hanukkah 2020!

Tonight will be special. Tonight will be splendid. Tonight is HANUKKAH! If all goes well, we’ll also be done with the January/February issue of the Magazine by tonight! To celebrate, I’m planning to light these candles, picked because their colors remind me of Oge Mora’s amazing cover art, inspired by...

Preview January/February 2021 Horn Book Magazine

Original cover art by Oge Mora. Horn Book Fanfare: Our choices for the best books of 2020. Coverage of the 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards virtual celebration: judges’ remarks, speeches, photos. Kathleen T. Horning interviews Leslie Brody, author of the Louise Fitzhugh biography Sometimes You Have to Lie. An update on the CCBC’s diversity statistics from Madeline Tyner. Gregory Maguire remembers Jill...

Fanfare 2020 Annotations

Welcome to Fanfare, our choices of the best books of 2020. When The Horn Book’s tiny office went from wall-to-wall books, ARCs, effin’ jeez, and piles and piles of still more books to fully remote, there was a lot of uncertainty. Overnight, our digital tag line — It’s virtually a...

Night Walk to the Sea

You need to have this book in your hands. Author Deborah Wiles imagines this story based on some of ecologist Rachel Carson’s writings and her relationship with her nephew Roger, whom she raised after his mother’s death. Roger is frightened when the lights go out on a stormy night, but Rachel...

Ava Weiss (1925-2020)

We were sorry to learn that longtime Greenwillow Books art director Ava Weiss has died, at the age of ninety-five. She was with Greenwillow from its beginnings in 1974 (having followed founder Susan Hirschman from Macmillan), retiring in 2002. Greenwillow’s Facebook page called her “brilliant” and said: “Ava designed the Greenwillow logo (inspired by Janina Domanska’s etchings in Under the Green...

Fanfare 2020 extras

Read more by and about some of our Fanfare 2020 authors and illustrators below. Find our at-a-glance Fanfare 2020 booklist here and our newly annotated list here.   Picture Books Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James What the Hell Is Didactic Intent Anyway? by Elisa Gall and Jonathan Hunt Family...

2020 has been a beary unexpected year...

...full of bears in children's books! Yesterday on Calling Caldecott, Dean Schneider discussed The Bear and the Moon, one of many new picture books starring bears that I've spotted in the Magazine this past year. They include:                                                        This made...

Fanfare 2020 Booklist

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Below is Fanfare, a list of the books that the Horn Book editors and reviewers have selected as the best of 2020. The annotated list will be published in the December issue of Notes from the Horn Book (sign up!) and in the January/February 2021 issue of the Horn Book Magazine...

The Bear and the Moon

Sometimes a book comes along that makes me proud to be a part of the world of children’s literature, and The Bear and the Moon, written by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Cátia Chien, is one of those books. When I first read it, it felt like an old friend,...

Week in Review, November 30th-December 4th

  This week on hbook.com...   From the November/December 2020 Horn Book Magazine: The Writer's Page: Navigating the N-Word by Nikki Grimes   From the January/February 2021 Horn Book Magazine: Starred Reviews   Read Roger: A Note from Me (Dec 4, 2020)   Calling Caldecott: NYT/NYPL List, We Miss You!...

Lift

I tried to resist Lift, written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat — a story of sibling rivalry in which young protagonist Iris feels usurped by her younger brother until she presses a magical elevator button that lets her escape into fantastic adventures. I saw it when it was...

A Note from Me (Dec 4, 2020)

Dear friends: I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. Ours was quiet but did not lack for fellowship (Lori and Cooper were here and we Zoomed with the kids) nor for turkey (which I think I’m supposed to turn into soup today) nor for TV (Endeavour and The Crown,...

The Writer's Page: Navigating the N-Word

The mere mention of the n-word is usually cause for conversation and consternation, to put it mildly. Whenever used in a song lyric or a piece of literature, dialogue and debate are quick to follow. Even so, the n-word is a brick wall I occasionally crash into, on purpose, whenever...

Tell us all about your Mock Caldecotts!

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You may not be surprised to see that, once again, we are asking you, our readers, for your Mock Caldecott plans! We know that many of you — teachers, school librarians, public librarians, and even booksellers — do mock Caldecotts with students, library patrons, etc. And you know we love to hear about them.  Want to...

A Thousand Glass Flowers

Do you ever sit with an object and think about where it’s been and where it’s going? I like to do this with my vintage beads. I run the strands through my fingers, hold them up to the light, and think about the artists who made the tiny, precious spheres,...

January/February 2021 Horn Book Magazine starred reviews

Illustration by Brian Pinkney, from Time for Kenny.   The following books will receive starred reviews in the January/February 2021 Horn Book Magazine:   Sato the Rabbit; written and illustrated by Yuki Ainoya (Enchanted Lion). Cave Paintings; by Jairo Buitrago; illus. by Rafael Yockteng (Groundwood). Me & Mama; written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera (Millner/Simon). Your House, My House; written...

NYT/NYPL List, We Miss You!

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JULES: Some of you may have already heard that, sadly, the New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book Awards will not take place this year, because of the pandemic. (Here are last year’s awards if you want to take a stroll down memory lane.) I look forward...

Week in Review, November 23rd-27th

  This week on hbook.com... Lincoln Peirce Talks with Roger about Max & the Midknights: Battle of the Bodkins   From the November/December Horn Book Magazine: Letter to the Editor from Kathleen T. Isaacs   Calling Caldecott: Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Martha V. Parravano   Reviews of the Week:...

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

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Kudos to author Nikki Grimes and artist Elizabeth Zunon, who together have created a most unusual bedtime book in Bedtime for Sweet Creatures. One of the most unusual things about the text is that it is narrated by the protagonist's mother, who throughout the book addresses her child as she...

Lincoln Peirce Talks with Roger

Talks with Roger is a sponsored supplement to our free monthly e-newsletter, Notes from the Horn Book. To receive Notes, sign up here. Sponsored by   In a sequel to Max & the Midknights, Lincoln Peirce’s Max & the Midknights: Battle of the Bodkins provides Max and her trusty companions with a truly spooky threat...

Letter to the Editor from Kathleen T. Isaacs, November 2020

September/October 2020 Horn Book   As I work at being really, really nearly retired and paring down all the children’s literature–related memberships, emails, unsolicited books, etc., I had been thinking of not renewing my Horn Book subscription. The September/October issue changed my mind. The opening “Effin’ Jeez” editorial spoke directly...

Week in Review, November 16th-20th

  This week on hbook.com... Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng Talk with Roger about Cave Paintings   From the November/December Horn Book Magazine: Field Notes: Books Everlasting: Teaching Children's Literature to Older Adults by Amy Kellman   Read Roger: Local Girl Makes Good A Note from Me (Nov 13, 2020)...

Transgender Awareness Week

Transgender Awareness Week is November 13-19, leading to Transgender Day of Remembrance / Trans Day of Resilience on November 20th, today. We join our trans, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary family members, friends, and neighbors near and far in celebrating the lives of trans people, remembering those lost to transphobic hate...

A Quick Pause for Nominations

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It's that time of year again at Calling Caldecott where we pause briefly in our coverage of 2020 picture books to ask for readers' input. What books that are eligible for the Caldecott are your current top favorites? It's not been a typical year, to put it mildly. And award...

A Note from Me (Nov 20, 2020)

Dear friends: I can still hear Carla Hayden’s voice, forty years ago, as she was describing the allure of Flowers in the Attic to the era’s younger teens. “Because of all the forbidden stuff,” she said to me, giving the word all the mystery and danger it deserves. Kids (who...

Local Girl Makes Good

The illustration on the cover of the November/December Magazine is from Once upon a Winter Day, a picture book written and illustrated by Liza Woodruff. Guys, that's our Liza, who worked as the circulation assistant at The Horn Book back in the last century, and we still miss her, so...

Hotel, motel

If you're feeling wistful about November travel -- or about the Rosebud Motel -- here are three new books set in motels. See also the Hotels and Motels subject list in the Guide/Reviews Database (free COVID-19 access info here). No Vacancy by Tziporah Cohen Intermediate, Middle School    Groundwood    144 pp.    g  9/20    978-1-77306-410-9    $16.95  e-book ed. ...

Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng Talk with Roger

Talks with Roger is a sponsored supplement to our free monthly e-newsletter, Notes from the Horn Book. To receive Notes, sign up here. Sponsored by   Interviewing this durable duo, one of them in Mexico, the other Colombia, required crossing borders both geographical and linguistic, so we corresponded via email about Cave Paintings, with Jairo...

What the Hell Is Didactic Intent Anyway?

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ELISA GALL: Part of the Caldecott terms and criteria reads: "The committee should keep in mind that the award is for distinguished illustrations in a picture book and for excellence of pictorial presentation for children. The award is not for didactic intent or for popularity." In recent years, I've seen...

2020 Jewish Book Council Seminar

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In these days of not going anywhere, I had a chance to attend and speak at an event I’d never been to before: the Jewish Book Council’s annual Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Seminar, held over Zoom this year. I was part of the Post-Publication Panel, along with Becca Kantor, Susan Kusel (my former Sydney...

Field Notes: Books Everlasting: Teaching Children's Literature to Older Adults

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Retired children’s librarians don’t fade away. They become consultants, and teach. When I’m not taking classes myself, I am teaching two courses about children’s books to older adults who participate in Osher, the Lifelong Learning Institute, based at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. My students are mostly grandparents. Some are...

Ask Family Reading: "Inappropriate" Books

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Justine writes: Help! I don’t police the books my kids are reading, but I just read a quick synopsis of the Arc of a Scythe series (Neal Shusterman), which my ten-year-old is two-thirds of the way through! YIKES! Suicide! Mass Murder! Overpopulation! Torture! Sooo many things we’ve never talked about (and...

2021 CaldeNotts

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If we here at Calling Caldecott ran the world, one of the first things we’d do is make it so that the Caldecott award could become an international award. The Caldecott manual states: “The award is restricted to artists who are citizens or residents of the United States.” But, as...

Week in Review, November 9th-13th

  This week on hbook.com... November Notes from the Horn Book Newsletter: 5Qs for Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith about I Talk like a River; fiction and nonfiction picture books about hearing, sound, and speech; fiction for middle-grade and middle-school sports fans, and YA American historical fiction   From the...

How to Find a Bird

I'm not a big bird fan, bordering on phobia (the thought of talons and my big, curly hair—horror). Living in the city, all the pigeons and the geese and the poop.  How to Find a Bird by Jennifer Ward, illus. by Diana Sudyka, came out in August and was reviewed,...

A Note from Me (Nov 13, 2020)

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Dear friends: I’m so sorry to have missed you last week but the close of the January/February book review section, not to mention the events of the nation, kept me otherwise occupied. Is it too soon to anticipate opening my January/February Magazine editorial with Phew? If you’re feeling at all...

Veterans Day 2020

Today, Veterans Day, is a good day to share books about veterans, their experiences and sacrifices, and their supportive families and communities on the homefront. The Guide/Reviews Database is honoring them with three new booklists of recent recommended fiction and nonfiction titles for primary, intermediate, and older readers. Grade levels...

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

In her afterword for Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, artist Cozbi A. Cabrera talks about how she loved researching the life of legendary poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Cabrera thanks the staff at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Rare Book and Manuscript Library for allowing her to hold...

Books mentioned in the November 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith I Talk like a River by Jordan Scott, illus. by Sydney Smith; Porter/Holiday. The sound of sounds Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus, illus. by Polly Dunbar; Candlewick. Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper, illus. by Kenard Pak; Kokila/Penguin. Sound:...

From the Editor - November 2020

Ready to celebrate? I bet you are, and our annual Holiday High Notes list of recommended seasonal titles is here to help you get the party started. It’s not too early, he says, having picked up two boxes of chocolate peppermint cookies earlier today, and while to keep household peace...

YA American historical fiction

These five works of historical fiction for young adults are set during turbulent times in American history — and effectively interrogate those moments from our past. Zora and Me: The Summoner by Victoria Bond Middle School    Candlewick    256 pp.    g 10/20    978-0-7636-4299-0    $17.99 Paper ed.  978-1-5362-1667-7    $7.99 This final entry...

Fiction for sports fans

Some sports are seasonal, but reading novels about them is an all-year-round affair, and these four recent offerings for middle graders and middle schoolers are worth adding to the rotation. Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera Intermediate, Middle School    Levine Querido    272 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-64614-003-9    $17.99 e-book...

The sound of sounds

The following picture books — two nonfiction, three fictional — engagingly and informatively explore the topics of hearing, sound, and speech for young readers. See also Five questions for Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith about I Talk like a River centering a protagonist with a stutter. Can Bears Ski? by...

Five questions for Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith

I Talk like a River (Porter/Holiday) — a collaboration between poet Jordan Scott and award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith — has received multiple starred reviews. The story takes us into the psyche of a boy who struggles with stuttering. After a “bad speech day,” the boy’s father takes him for a...

Holiday High Notes 2020

’Twas the holiday issue, and all across Boston... the remote-working Horn Bookers were writing reviews of recommended new and reissued Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas books. (See also Marjorie Ingall’s article “What Makes a Good Hanukkah Book?” in the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.)   Jack and Santa...

World Adoption Day

Ed. note: Below is Kitty's lovely and moving FB post for World Adoption Day.  Before we adopted our kids, we learned about the adoption triad: birth family, baby, and adoptive family. Each part of the triad is forever bonded to the other two, no matter how open or closed the relationship...

How to Talk about Picture Books

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In case we don’t say it enough, we here at Calling Caldecott are immensely grateful to all of the guest posters who visit and write about picture books. We enjoy reading their posts and appreciate their thoughtful contributions. We love it when someone points out something in a picture book...

Week in Review, November 2nd-6th

  This week on hbook.com... An Interview with MacArthur Fellow Jacqueline Woodson by Elissa Gershowitz, Monique Harris, Nicholl Denice Montgomery, and Dr. Kim Parker Cynthia Leitich Smith and Rosemary Brosnan Talk with Roger about HarperCollins's new imprint Heartdrum   From the November/December Horn Book Magazine: Writing as an Act of...
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