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Black Kids Camp, Too...Don't They?: Embracing "Wildness" in Picture Books

My mother was a Girl Scout leader, my father was a Boy Scout leader, and my brother was a Tiger Cub in the Boy Scouts. Practically from the time I could walk, I tagged along with family to scout meetings and events. When I became a Girl Scout, and eventually...

Happy Anniversary: Number the Stars

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Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1989. It won the Newbery Medal in 1990 and celebrates its thirtieth anniversary in 2019.    Thirty years after its publication, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry remains one of the best literary introductions to the Holocaust for children....

Lift Every Voice: Side B

When I was eight years old — you might say octave age — in 1971, I was a DJ playing a record, a single 45, in my bedroom. The song on vinyl I would play was side B of Michael Jackson’s “Got to Be There” — “Maria (You Were the...

Lift Every Voice: Thank You, Gusty

Funny thing is, I have never before shared this experience with anyone. It is most likely the event that had the most impact on the direction of my life. When I was young, my imagination was voracious. In the corner of one of the three rooms of our house (the...

2019 Mind the Gap Awards: The books that didn't win at ALA

  Not all deserving books bring home ALA awards. The books that didn’t win.     Rained out     A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes The Field by Baptiste Paul; illus. by Jacqueline Alcántara Water Land by Christy Hale       Singing the blues   They Say Blue...

What the CSK Means to Me

I’m not a children’s librarian. I don’t even work in the children’s book field. But as an African American, an academic librarian, and a library and information science (LIS) administrator/educator, I have always known the importance of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. I began my professional career just about...

2018: The Year in Words and Pictures

Who are we? What kind of community are we going to be, do we want to be? These are the ever-more-urgent questions that were being asked — and answered — in 2018, not just by book award committees but also by professional organizations devoted to children’s books and reading, in discussions...

Lift Every Voice: My Grandparents' House

As a child, I loved to visit my grandparents. Their home was very different from ours. My grandmother had purchased it late in life with her own money, she would proudly say. In the house were cherry-wood end tables with scalloped edges and leather insets, beautiful ornate ceramic peacocks that...

Lift Every Voice: History and Stories

In addition to this year being the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, it is also fifty years since I graduated from high school. My foundational education provided very few opportunities to read books by African American writers, either for school or pleasure. Interestingly,...

Make Way for Ashley! A Birthday Tribute

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A poem written on the occasion of Ashley Bryan's 96th birthday.   What a Morning! Sing to the Sun!  Walk Together Children! Uh-Huh! Uh-Huh!  Dancing Granny’s movin’ her feet.  It’s Ashley’s day! Flying-High sweet!    It’s been said that The Night Has Ears.  Now the story’s told — his birthday’s...

2019 CSK–Virginia Hamilton Award Acceptance by Pauletta Brown Bracy

Good Coretta-Scott-King-Book-Awards-Breakfast-Sunday morning! I stand before you as the fifth recipient of the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement in the category of practitioner and in the company of the distinguished colleagues who have come before me: Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith, Demetria Tucker, Deborah D. Taylor, and Dr....

Lift Every Voice: Seeing Stars

I’ve been marinating in childhood memories this past year as I worked to complete my upcoming memoir, Ordinary Hazards. Among the memories there were, as you might imagine, many moments that marked my path as a writer: my first poetry reading at Countee Cullen Library in Harlem, receiving my first...

Field Notes: A Family Affair: Connecting Community to Books

On a rainy day in July 2017, a group of teachers, librarians, and community activists gathered at Frugal Bookstore, Boston’s only Black-owned bookstore, to participate in a discussion of Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give (which would go on to be named a 2018 Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor...

Wit's End: The Art of Tomi Ungerer

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Tomi Ungerer was born between worlds, and his picture books show it. Ungerer was raised amid the Sturm und Drang of the Second World War in Alsace, a multilingual border region to which Germany and France have repeatedly laid claim over the centuries. Although the worst aspects of the war...

From The Guide: We Need Middle-Grade LGBTQ+ Books

Publishers take note. According to Madeline Tyner’s article “The CCBC’s Diversity Statistics: Spotlight on LGBTQ+ Stories”: “We received very little LGBTQ+ fiction for middle-grade readers [in 2017]…The lack of this literature is unfortunate, as children in upper elementary and middle school are often beginning to question their sexual orientations or...

From The (Ghoulish) Guide: Horn BOO! 2018

In addition to Samurai Scarecrow, The Ghostly Carousel, and two Mary Shelley picture-book biographies reviewed in the September/October 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, here are nine new books our staff thinks are unboolievably right for Halloween reading.Atkinson, Cale  Sir Simon: Super Scarer48 pp.     Tundra     2018  ...

From The Guide: Summer of Change

Summertime can be life-altering for young adults — preparing for work or college, travel, camp, summer jobs, etc. YA authors like Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Jennifer E. Smith have a way of capturing those quintessential coming-of-age experiences. Teens seeking read-alikes or the perfect beach or camping books...

From The Guide: Be an Everyday Un-Hero

Sometimes it feels like the average person can’t make much of an impact on the world. But in her Writer’s Page column, “The Un-Hero’s Journey”, Kekla Magoon says, “The key to making a difference is to be someone who participates, someone who tries hard to do the right thing. It...

Field Notes: Camp Read-a-Rama: Learning to “Live Books”

Leader: Hey Nick.Nick: Yeah!L: Hey Nick.N: Yeah!L: Can you Gruff?N: Gruff-a-what?L: Can you Gruff?N: Gruff-a-lo.N: My hands are high, my feet are low, and this is how I Gruffalo. [Nick dances]All: His hands are high, his feet are low, and this is how he Gruffalos! [Everyone mimics Nick’s dance]All: Gruff-a-lo,...

From The Guide: New for New Readers

As the Horn Book editors discuss in this issue, we’re experiencing an “Easy Reader Renaissance,” with publishers exploring all the possibilities of these mainstays of children’s literature. The recommended examples below offer a glimpse at the wide variety of easy readers that are available for the equally wide variety of...

From The Guide: Family Matters

Julie Roach’s “BGHB at 50” column, “Amber and Essie and Vera and Me" (January/February 2018 Magazine) looks back at Vera B. Williams’s classic Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart, about “two sisters who take care of each other while missing their incarcerated father and overworked mother.” Williams offers readers an...

Field Notes: Lucha Libros: Bilingual Battle of the Books

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On May 3, 2017, fifty-six second- and third-graders and their parents gathered in the Pasadena Public Library’s Donald R. Wright Auditorium for the final battle of our third annual Lucha Libros reading competition. That month’s selection was Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox / El Superzorro. As I looked around the...

From The Guide: Chapter Book Mirrors

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In her “Field Notes” column "Lucha Libros: Bilingual Battle of the Books," AnnMarie Hurtado says, “Lucha Libros started in response to the growing body of research on the importance of bolstering kids’ reading skills by third grade, and from hearing so many parents (especially non-English-speaking parents) tell me how hard...

From The (Ghoulish) Guide: Horn BOO! 2017

  In addition to Boo Who? and Creepy Pair of Underwear, reviewed in the September/October 2017 issue, here are nine new picture books our staff thinks are unboolievably right for Halloween reading.Clickard, Carrie  Magic for Sale32 pp.     Holiday     2017     ISBN 978-0-8234-3559-3e-book ISBN 978-0-8234-3910-2K–3  Illustrated by John Shelley. In a story...

From The Guide: #goodtrouble

Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis, coauthor of the March graphic novel memoir trilogy, preached to his chickens as a child (see right); in the July/August 2017 issue, Lewis’s March coauthor Andrew Aydin describes their mission to keep “preaching” to a new generation. The following nonfiction picture books about...

From The Guide: Darkly Funny YA

When Andrew Smith’s book Grasshopper Jungle won the 2014 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Fiction, it was praised for its blending of catastrophic sci-fi with angsty teen-humor. The following books likewise rely heavily on dark comedy to appeal to the snarky, self-referential nature of teenagers themselves, creating an appealing subgenre...

From The Guide: Art Appreciation

Rita Auerbach’s extended review of Molly Bang's Picture This 25th anniversary edition took me back to my Simmons grad school days. I remember the eye-opening experience of reading Picture This for the first time — how it forever altered the way I “read” and examine art and illustration. The following...

From The Guide: Wonder-full World

In Miss Rumphius, Alice’s grandfather told her to “do something to make the world more beautiful.” Now more than ever we need to encourage children’s interest in, connection to, and responsibility for the Earth and its inhabitants. As contributor Kathleen T. Isaacs says in “Fostering Wonder," “When we share picture...

From The Guide: American Politics 2016

After months and months and months of campaigning, the presidential election is upon us. The following books, all recommended in recent and forthcoming issues of The Horn Book Guide, teach middle-graders about the American political system, providing some context for what the candidates have been fighting about.—Elissa GershowitzSenior Editor, The...

From The Guide: First-Day-of-School Picture Books

The first day of school is a momentous event, one often anticipated with a mix of worry and excitement. School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson, is one of our recent favorites and received a starred review in the March/April 2016 Magazine. The following picture...

From The Guide: Celebrating Music

Troy Andrews’s Trombone Shorty, for which Bryan Collier took home the 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award (read his acceptance speech), is an inspirational musician’s-origin story. It’s also a celebration of music’s power to transform and uplift performers and to open doors. For more books to foster a love of...

Field Notes: Loud in the Library: Creating Social Activists at School

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I am the librarian in an elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s a city of socioeconomic extremes, but dedicated to the mission of equity in public education; every classroom in each of the twelve public elementary schools maintains a 60/40 ratio between paid and free lunch students. In addition to...

From The Guide: Picture Books in Translation

In her article “Translator: Trafficking Between Cultures," Elena Abós compares translators to travel guides, successfully delivering a book from one culture to another. With universal relevance and appeal, the following picture books — all originally published in languages other than English and all recommended by The Horn Book Guide —...

From The Guide: Narrative Nonfiction

The trending genre of narrative nonfiction is one we have followed closely — see for example our August 2015 What Makes Good Narrative Nonfiction e-newsletter and Marc Aronson's Writer's Page article "What Is Narrative Nonfiction?" The Horn Book Guide’s wide-lens view on children’s publishing makes narrative nonfiction’s current popularity and...

Field Notes: Escaping Series Mania

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Last spring I worked, temporarily, as a school librarian, a position I hadn’t held since Reagan was president. There were lots of adjustments, some easier than others. But the biggest surprise of all was that in this elementary school in an affluent suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, almost every...

From The Guide: Spanish-Language and Bilingual Books

In her article “On Writing the American Familia," author Meg Medina speaks to the language “dilemma” of Latino families: “Some of us speak Spanish, and some of us don’t — sometimes all under the same roof.” Written in Spanish; both English and Spanish; or Spanglish (of which Medina is an...

From The Guide: Comics for Middle Graders

This year’s ALA honorees El Deafo and This One Summer show that graphic novels and comics continue to soar in popularity and critical acclaim. In their article “Comics Are Picture Books: A (Graphic) Novel Idea," Elisa and Patrick Gall urge audiences to look at the form with fresh (and less...

Field Notes: On Propagating Literacy

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Illustration by Erin Farley.My story about working in adult literacy starts with a Black Knight Buddleia sapling on my twenty-sixth birthday at around two o’clock in the afternoon. I was digging the hole to plant the Buddleia in the garden of my Tipperary farm when the phone rang. The caller...

From The Guide: YA Horror

This year’s “Horn BOO!," our annual roundup of Halloween-y books, will satisfy the spook-loving picture-book set. Teen readers — those with a more mature taste in fright, greater immunity to fear, and, in some cases, seriously strong stomachs — should check out these horror novels from the spring and fall...

From The Guide: YA Memoirs

Adolescence is a time of transition that for many teens is characterized by hurdles big and small. These new memoirs, written by and/or for young adults, and all recommended by The Horn Book Guide, offer teenage readers real-life stories of hardship and hard-won triumph.—Katrina HedeenAssociate Editor, The Horn Book GuideAndrews,...

From The Guide: Board Book Transformations

In his article “Hijacking the Pumpkin Coach” (beginning on page 14), Gregory Maguire starts with a contemplation on the meaning of the word transformations, as well as some useful near-synonyms, among them “shape-changers” and “old wine in new skins.” In keeping with this theme, here are some recent Horn Book...

Field Notes: Alice, the Transformer

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She began life as Alice Liddell, the daughter of an Oxford college dean, who in 1856, along with her brother and two sisters, was befriended by mathematics tutor Charles Dodgson, later better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll. A few years later, on a summer boat trip, the first...

Field Notes: “This Is Too Much!” Why Verse Novels Work for Reluctant Readers

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Novels in verse have earned their place in the mainstream of children’s and young adult literature — Exhibit A: Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover winning the Newbery Medal — and this is good news for reluctant readers, especially reluctant middle-grade and middle-school readers. Compared to a conventional novel, a novel in...

From The Guide: Books to Fill the Gaps

In Vaunda Micheaux Nelson’s Horn Book at Simmons keynote address, “Mind the Gaps," she laments the shortage of good children’s books featuring African American protagonists. What is there consists largely of books about the African American historical experience, not “books with black characters experiencing what children of any culture might.”...

From The Guide: Math Picture Books

In “What Makes a Good Math Storybook?”, Audrey M. Quinlan explores some “classic picture books that can be enjoyed as works of literature and also to painlessly introduce math concepts to children.” As recent issues of The Horn Book Guide have shown, the math-is-fun picture-book model is alive and well...

What Happened to the Frog?

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During this new era of the Common Core State Standards, it is essential for teachers and librarians not only to have an understanding of the end goal of each particular standard but also to have a deep knowledge of the children’s literature that can support it. Take, for example, the...

From The Guide: Steampunk for Tweens and Teens

Airships, automatons, futuristic gadgets, alternate history, and action galore: these are some of the key elements of the speculative-fiction subgenre known as steampunk. All recommended by The Horn Book Guide, these current novels (plus a new illustrated collection of works by genre-influencer and -precursor H. G. Wells) will satisfy devoted...

From The Guide: Folklore (and Fakelore)

In her article “Folklore vs. Fakelore, the Epic Battle," Jane Yolen rejects the derision of “fake folklore,” tracing the tangled and not-so-folky histories of many tales we think of as folklore. Whether they’re straight abridgments, tamed retellings, or silly twists on well-known tales, the following books, all recommended in the...

Robert McCloskey at 100

Robert McCloskey was to the mid-twentieth-century American picture book what Norman Rockwell was to the illustrated magazine of that era: the artist most adept at divining the mythic dimension in the dramas of everyday life, and at crafting iconic images of a particular time and place with the power to...

From The Guide: Cultural Diversity in Middle-Grade Fiction

Children’s books that acknowledge, respect, and celebrate young people from a wide variety of racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds are still too few and far between. These Horn Book Guide–recommended novels from 2013 and 2014 are fine examples of books that do. And for a full day of thoughtful, in-depth...

From The Guide: Spy Novels

In his article “I Spy: Harriet and I," Jack Gantos discusses “the thrill of being sneaky” (“I just liked knowing I had discovered something that was supposed to be a secret”). It’s a universal fascination — one that Harriet the Spy tapped into — which is why the ever-popular spy-novel...

From The Guide: Wordless Picture Books

Truly accomplished picture book art not only works with and complements a text but also expands on the story, sometimes even offering an alternate version — or stepping in completely when there are no words at all (as with the three wordless Caldecott Honors this year). With sweeping panoramic vistas,...

From The Guide: Picture Book Builders

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Judges and winners of the 2013 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards came together in early October for “The Horn Book at Simmons: Building Character,” a day-long event designed to give participants an opportunity to discuss how characters are constructed, and how they reach out from the page, building bridges to young...

Northward Bound: The Picture Book Art of Isol

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Photo: Stefan TellThe Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in children’s and young adult literature was presented this year to a writer/illustrator whose work is just becoming known in the United States, the Argentinian picture book artist Marisol Misenta, or Isol.The Lindgren prize, or ALMA, was established in 2002 to honor the...

From The Guide: Teen Problem Novels

In his “What Makes a Good YA Urban Novel?” column, Horn Book Guide reviewer Randy Ribay discusses books about teens growing up in cities and the issues they face. On a larger scale, the problem novel can be a way for all teens, in any environment and of any background,...

From The Guide: Slightly Spooky Middle-Grade Tales

It’s time for trick-or-treating, costuming-wearing, and embracing all things eerie. In “Horn BOO!” the Horn Book staff recommends spooky (or kooky) offerings, mostly picture books, for celebrating Halloween. The following books about ghosts, hauntings, monsters, and more will all appear in the forthcoming fall 2013 Horn Book Guide. These novels...

From The Guide: Historical Fiction for Teens

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Good historical fiction engages readers with different times, places, people, and cultures while still resonating today. In young adult books, this means raising issues that are universal for teens of any generation: overcoming social expectations, coming of age amidst struggle, and understanding one’s identity and place in the world. Here...

From The Guide: Graphic Novels for Children

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Accessible text matched with dynamic illustrations in engaging cartoon-panel layouts help make graphic novels inviting packages for younger readers, struggling or reluctant readers, and comics-loving kids. The following sampling of recommended titles from the spring 2013 issue of The Horn Book Guide includes perennial-favorite characters, debut series, graphic-novel adaptations, and...

From The Guide: Novels in Verse

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To honor National Poetry Month in April, we’re spotlighting notable novels in verse from the past year. From illustrated lighthearted verse to historical fiction to contemporary realism, this eclectic potpourri of Horn Book Guide–recommended novels showcases the form and gives readers — from primary-age kids to older teens — good...

From The Guide: American Politics

This month, Barack Obama will be sworn in as president of the United States for his second term, making this an opportune moment to teach children about U.S. politics — both the development of our democratic system and the ways that process could shape their future. These recent books, recommended...

From The Guide: Artists and Masterpieces

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This September, contemporary portrait artist Chuck Close’s unconventional autobiography, Chuck Close: Face Book (rev. 5/12), was awarded the 2012 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for nonfiction. The following are Horn Book Guide–recommended books (including BGHB Nonfiction Honor Award–winner Georgia in Hawaii) for elementary-age readers — some biographical, others historical and artistic...

From The Guide: Re-imagined Classics

The Guide, with its comprehensive approach to children’s book reviewing, has a unique perspective on trends in the industry. Recently there’s been a surge of upper-middle-grade and young-adult titles that re-imagine, retell, reinterpret, or just revere beloved stories. The following novels, all recommended by The Horn Book Guide, offer teen-friendly...

Give 'Em Helvetica: Picture Book Type

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Type — the formal language of the printed word — speaks to us in mysterious ways. It’s not always clear just what type is saying, or how our reading experience is enhanced or undermined, however subtly, by slight variations in point size (the overall dimensions of the type), or the...

From The Guide: Sports Books

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Summer is the season for recreational reading, outdoor activities, fun, sports, and, this year, the Summer Olympics. In The Horn Book Guide, there’s never a shortage of sports-themed books, from high-interest bait for reluctant readers to entertaining diversions for voracious ones. The following sports-books-done-right for upper-elementary and middle-grade readers are...

From The Guide: Mythology

Sirens may be the new vampires. In the spring 2012 Guide issue, there are no fewer than five books about sirens (and another four about mermaids). In any event, Greek mythology seems to be having its own resurgence, hot on the wingéd heels of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books. The...

From The Guide: Titanic

The Titanic is one of those perennially popular topics; a quick keyword search in the Guide Online brings up eighty-four records (and counting). The following books, commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the tragedy — April 15, 1912 — are fine examples of Titanic lore.—Elissa GershowitzManaging Editor, The Horn Book Guide  Chrisp,...

From The Guide: Paranormal Romance

Dying for some paranormal romance? These swoon-worthy YA stories of supernatural love, all recommended by The Horn Book Guide, are sure to melt hearts and raise spirits.—Elissa GershowitzManaging Editor, The Horn Book GuideCremer, Andrea Nightshade454 pp. Philomel 2010. ISBN 978-0-399-25482-6YA Werewolf Calla defies her pack by saving human Shay from...

From The Guide: More Good Space Books

Danielle J. Ford writes about "What Makes a Good Space Book?" in this issue. For more recommended space books, see the reviews below, compiled from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please visit hbook.staging.wpengine.com/subscriber-info. Aguilar, David...

From The Guide: Batchelder Award Winners

The following reviews of recent Batchelder Award winners and honor books are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please visit hbook.staging.wpengine.com/subscriber-info.Bondoux, Anne-Laure A Time of Miracles181 pp. Delacorte 2010. ISBN 978-0-385-73922-1Library binding ISBN 978-0-385-90777-4YA...

From The Guide: 2011 Award Winners

The following reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please visit hbook.staging.wpengine.com/subscriber-info.Newbery Medal Winner and Honor BooksVanderpool, Clare Moon Over Manifest253 pp. Delacorte 2010. ISBN 978-0-385-73883-5LE ISBN 978-0-385-90750-7Gr. 4–6 It’s 1936 and Abilene’s...

From The Guide: More Mockingbird

The following reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please visit hbook.staging.wpengine.com/subscriber-info.Ellsworth, Loretta In Search of Mockingbird183 pp. Holt 2007. ISBN 978-0-8050-7236-5YA Motivated by her late mother’s diary, aspiring writer Erin spontaneously buys...

From The Guide: Good Scientist Books

The following reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. To find even more good books about scientists, look to the Guide subject index and the Guide Online fully searchable database. For more information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please visit...

From The Guide: Good Sports Books

The following reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. To find even more good sports books, look to the Guide subject index and the Guide Online fully searchable database. For more information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please visit hbook.staging.wpengine.com/subscriber-info.Berman,...

Sight Reading: Something Old, Something New: Marla Frazee’s Picture Book Art

This year’s Caldecott committee sprinkled its fairy dust in three directions, bestowing its particular brand of good fortune on a trio of illustrators at distinctly diff erent stages of their careers. The big prize went of course to Jerry Pinkney, a draftsman and watercolorist par excellence who has long been...

Field Notes: “Mom, Look! It’s George, and He’s a TV Indian!”

by Debbie ReeseThe title for this article came from my daughter, Elizabeth. One day last year when I picked her up from kindergarten, she came rushing to me with a scrunched-up, angry face. Before she even said hello, she plopped down on the hallway floor and opened the George and...
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