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Lighting the Candle: Thank You, Mr. Baumgartner

Irene (seated, second from left) and Pam (seated, fifth from left) in third grade. (Photo courtesy of Pam Muñoz Ryan.) If I hadn’t been a failed violinist, I might never have become a writer. When I was in fourth grade, the public school I attended had a coveted orchestra program....

Lighting the Candle: Untitled

From the May/June 2021 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: The Pura Belpré Award at 25. Find more in the "Lighting the Candle" series here. Illustration (c) 2021 by Sara Palacios....

Lighting the Candle: What Words and Art Can Do

This is a joyful memory, lo prometo, though it’s one connected to suffering as well. I am a writer and walk in this world with gratitude and purpose because of my mother, Isabel María Valdivieso Vexler Brown. In teaching me how to be an artist, she taught me how to...

Lighting the Candle: Dance with Me

Lilliam Rivera (left) with Titi Luz. (Photo courtesy of Lilliam Rivera.) She wore a long, colorful falda and matching blouse, or blusa, with ribboned ruffles, perfectly made for twirling. On a small stage stood my aunt Luz E. Ortiz Vázquez, ready to dance with her partner, who took her by...

Lighting the Candle: Mrs. Miller's Magic

From the May/June 2021 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: The Pura Belpré Award at 25. Find more in the "Lighting the Candle" series here....

Lighting the Candle: The Kindness of Time

A page from one of the author's notebooks. (Photo: John Wiggins.) The kindness of time allows us to elucidate and inhabit memories from our childhoods that have shaped us into becoming who we are. I have always loved words, their sounds and textures. When I was a young girl, my...

Lighting the Candle: Blank Page Spark

From the May/June 2021 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: The Pura Belpré Award at 25. Find more in the "Lighting the Candle" series here....

Lighting the Candle: The Sun Always Came Out Tomorrow

Miss Hannigan’s purple dress peeked out from behind the mulberry tree, the breeze pushing it against her calf and slightly above her black heels. She was good at hiding, but we were aware of her presence and that she’d been on our trail for the last twenty minutes and was...

Lighting the Candle: The Moments That Inspired the Journey

Alma Flor Ada at age five, in front of the Quinta Simoni in 1943. Photo courtesy of Alma Flora Ada. Growing up in Cuba at my grandmother’s home, the Quinta Simoni, surrounded by family and nature, was a most magical time. My parents, aunts, and uncles were all still young,...

Lighting the Candle: Tato's Tales

From the May/June 2021 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: The Pura Belpré Award at 25. Find more in the "Lighting the Candle" series here....

Lighting the Candle: Thinking About the Verb

When I speak to groups of young people, I say, “I’m going to ask you a question. I’ll give you three seconds to think of an answer, and right now, I’m going to tell you that you will be wrong.” The question I ask is: “What do you want to...

Lighting the Candle: A Wild Ride

From left: Carmen's father, Carlos Agra; sister, Tersi Agra Bendiburg; Carmen Agra Deedy; and mother, Esther Ponz Agra, several years after arriving in the United States. Photo courtesy of Carmen Agra Deedy. When I was in middle school, my social studies teacher encouraged me to enter a writing contest, sponsored...

Lighting the Candle: Labyrinth

I came to the U.S. when I was a teenager. As I spent more time away from Mexico, where I grew up, I began to feel a little lost. I missed the food, the music, and the traditions. One of my high school teachers noticed this and loaned me a...

Field Notes: Pandemic Diary: Bilingual Virtual Programming

Children’s literature has the unique ability to inspire a lifelong love of reading for children and their families. One of the books that shaped my own understanding of growing up biracial, as a Honduran American, was Arroz con leche: canciones y ritmos populares de América Latina / Rice with Milk:...

Lighting the Candle: The Year I Turned Ten

"Una vez que un objeto ha sido incorporado a una pintura, acepta un nuevo destino." —Georges Braque   The year I turned ten, my father moved us from my island of Puerto Rico to Buenos Aires, Argentina. For him, it was a long-awaited ­sabbatical. One he dreamt of spending in...

Lighting the Candle: Bagazo and El Josco

From the May/June 2021 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: The Pura Belpré Award at 25. Find more in the "Lighting the Candle" series here....

Lighting the Candle: One Story, One Day

Mr. Riley’s room was just past the bathrooms on the left side of the hall across from the lockers (which, for some reason, we were not allowed to use). He stood in the doorway, hands in pockets, and welcomed us into class every day. He was a nice enough guy,...

Lighting the Candle: Thinking in Pictures

For me, a trip to the grocery store is an adventure. Choosing between red and green peppers involves staving off ravenous zombies who want to snack on my earlobes. Hefting ten pounds of black beans into my cart requires hiding from reptilian-skinned aliens intent on harvesting my toenails. Picking up...

Lighting the Candle: Boom Box

I used to drive my mother dizzy with my never-ending stories. There was always something to share. A short TV cartoon I’d seen could turn into three hours of retelling. On my mother’s heels, from room to room, I would spin the smallest of daily events into an epic narrative...

Lighting the Candle: ¡Bórralo!

From the May/June 2021 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: The Pura Belpré Award at 25. Find more in the "Lighting the Candle" series here....

Lighting the Candle: Pages of Pleasure

El Paso, Texas, a city on the U.S.–Mexico border, the city where Mom, my three siblings, my three children, and I were born. I grew up in a loving, bilingual home, English and Spanish — the second-most spoken language in the United States. Neither of Mom’s parents spoke English, though...

Lighting the Candle: Unearthing a Writer

Mrs. Arnoldus (top row, third from left) and Donna Barba Higuera (second row from top, far left). Photo courtesy of Donna Barba Higuera. When word spread that homeroom assignments had gone out, every sixth grader at Roosevelt School waited by their mailbox, promising God they’d be good the rest of...

Lighting the Candle: El Paso to Pura Belpré

From the May/June 2021 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: The Pura Belpré Award at 25. Find more in the "Lighting the Candle" series here....

Lighting the Candle: Inherited Exile

When I was little, my mother read poetry to me in Spanish. José Martí’s Versos sencillos were the essence of my memories from those early years. Even though he died in battle, his rosa blanca of forgiveness for enemies had an enormous impact on my lifelong commitment to peacemaking. After...

A Letter to Readers: ¡Celebremos!: 25 Years of the Pura Belpré Award

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to this special issue of The Horn Book Magazine commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Pura Belpré Award and, more generally, Latinx literature for young people. As the 2020–21 vice president/president-elect of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and as past president of the National Association...

The Writer's Page: Hello Again

Writing sequels or companion books to my novels has never been tempting to me, probably because I like to think each book accomplished all I’d intended to say. After completing When Zachary ­Beaver Came to Town (1999), I felt satisfied that I’d finished the story of Toby, Cal, and Zachary....

Field Notes: "But Are They Level O?": Leveled Reading and Antiracism

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Knoth reading to a kindergarten class in her school library. My search began with the most ordinary of questions. All school librarians will recognize the request: a teacher sent a weekend email needing book suggestions for her fourth graders — books that were well written, accessible, and of course, engaging....

In Memoriam: Jill Paton Walsh (1937–2020)

It’s a trick of the human mind that we rarely remember experiences in sequence. Rather, our brain does something scattershot, collaged. When emotion inflects memory, as happens at the death of a friend, it can be a struggle to organize the onrush of the past into narrative coherence. The news...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Field Notes: Teaching Infinite Hope

Ashley Bryan’s Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace won the 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award — but as a teacher, children’s literature aficionado, and friend of Ashley’s, I’ve known the book was special for...

Happy Anniversary: His Dark Materials

2020 marks two milestones for Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy: the twenty-fifth anniversary of the UK publication of its first volume, Northern Lights (published a year later in the United States as The Golden Compass); and the twentieth anniversary of the international publication of the third, The Amber Spyglass...

In Memoriam: Lee Kingman Natti (1919–2020)

Editor, author, artist, and designer Lee Kingman Natti’s association with The Horn Book, Inc., spanned eighty years — surely a record. Bertha Mahony, founder of The Horn Book Magazine and owner of The Bookshop for Boys and Girls, gave the nine-year-old Lee advice on choosing ten free books from the...

The Writer's Page: "At the Mercy or Whim of Others": Policing Protest in Children's Publishing

“I will not write another lament.” That’s the first line of my poem “Room to Breathe,” which I wrote on May 29, 2020, the day a White Minneapolis police officer was charged with the murder of George Floyd. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I turned to poetry, since I couldn’t...

In Memoriam: Tomie dePaola (1934–2020)

The first thing I think of when I think of Tomie dePaola (who died in March at the age of eighty-five, from complications following a fall) isn’t a book at all. It’s Christmas. I think of a Tomie dePaola nativity set my family had growing up. I’m not even talking...

Happy Anniversary: The People Could Fly

The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales told by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1985. We look back on this iconic Coretta Scott King Author Award winner (also a CSK Illustrator honor) as it celebrates its thirty-fifth anniversary.   Since...

From the Chair: Small Moments of Joy (2020 Caldecott Committee, ALA)

Readers of The Horn Book Magazine will have heard this before: a book has the power to change a person, and a person has the power to change a book. Depending on who you are at a given time and the experiences you have collected, the understanding of a book...

Cadenza: The Rules That "Jack" Broke

This is the house that Jack built… / This is the cat, / That killed the rat, / That ate the malt / that lay in the house that Jack built. This is the noun that noun verbed… / This is the noun, / That verbed the noun, / That...

From the Chair: Universality in Times of Uncertainty (2020 Newbery Committee, ALA)

In these times of uncertainty, we can all relate to what’s happening now because we are all experiencing it on some level. We have a shared experience. How we react to our situation and what we learn about ourselves may be what we look back on as our defining moments....

From the Chair: Continuing the Legacy (2020 CSK Book Awards Jury, ALA)

Since nervously accepting the appointment of jury chair from previous Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee chair Dr. Claudette McLinn, my goal has been to continue the legacy that the Coretta Scott King Book Awards have created of identifying quality children’s literature that features various narratives of the Black experience....

Rule Breakers: The Styrofoam Tray Incident

From the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Breaking the Rules. Find more in the "Rule Breakers" series here....

Rule Breakers: I Simply Cannot Draw

I’ve never thought of myself as that type of visual artist. You know, the kind of person whose absentminded margin doodles actually look like something? Someone with those fine motor skills that translate into magnificent sketches of stuff you can recognize without having to get liberal artsy about it? And...

Happy Anniversary: Black and White and Read All Over Again

Black and White by David Macaulay was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1990. We look back on this rule-breaking Caldecott Medalist as it celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.   By 1990, children’s literature professionals had come to expect the unexpected from David Macaulay. An innovative artist and illustration teacher, Macaulay knew...

Rule Breakers: The World Is My Canvas

From the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Breaking the Rules. Find more in the "Rule Breakers" series here. ...

Rule Breakers: Amy and the Bus

It was a Wednesday, and Wednesday meant what in 1979 was called gifted class, and gifted class meant getting out of regular class (yay!) and getting on a bus (yay!) and driving along a really curvy road with a bump on it that made us all fly up from our...

Rule Breakers: What Was I Doing with Those Books?

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My first job after I graduated from college was as a sixth-grade science teacher. I was woefully ill-prepared for this position — I had limited passion for the subject of science, and even less aptitude. I struggled with everything from classroom management to balancing the seemingly never-ending piles of paper...

Rule Breakers: The Things We Do for Love

The story starts like this. “One time, at orchestra camp…” Maybe this isn’t the kind of rule-breaking you meant, but it’s true. One time at orchestra camp, I met a boy who played the bass like an absolute wizard. I did everything I could to make myself attractive to this...

Rule Breakers: Not "Not Your Business"

When I was in my late twenties, I studied karate at a women’s dojo. This surprised my friends, who immediately started teasing me — a newly out lipstick lesbian — about going for a “pink belt” (there’s no such thing). I surprised myself by progressing from white belt to yellow...

Rule Breakers: Never a Rule to Begin With

When I was young, I heard a family member say something that has stuck with me for all of these years: “Black people can’t be gay.” As ridiculous as this sounds, there are plenty of people who have had and still have this mindset. Beyond the unfortunately common homophobia, the...

Rule Breakers: Stepping Off the Hamster Wheel

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I was thirty-one years old. I had two fine arts degrees, both in printmaking. “Printmaking?” an acquaintance once commented. “That’s like having a degree in dressage.” In terms of usefulness or relevance, he meant. Or employability. I was onto something now, though, working at a graphic design and typesetting business...

Rule Breakers: Rule Number One

We’ve been writing about art and artists since 1990 — fourteen books in thirty years — and, like any longtime collaborators, we have a long list of rules. Sometimes we even remind each other about them (politely, of course). One rule we’ve agreed on since we planned our first book...

Rule Breakers: Trusting My Instincts

I have never felt especially burdened by rules. In fact, I sometimes find it necessary to impose them on myself. For instance: you must spend the next hour writing your essay for The Horn Book! There! Rules are a part of creative work. With every project, an artist must grapple...

Rule Breakers: The Good Kid

From the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Breaking the Rules. Find more in the "Rule Breakers" series here. ...

Rule Breakers: The Workaround

From the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Breaking the Rules. Find more in the "Rule Breakers" series here. ...

Rule Breakers: Walk Away

I started ninth grade as one of five girls admitted to the Friends Boys School in Ramallah. We all needed a school that taught in English, but from the first week, the girls were often in trouble for minor infractions. A school mistress kept her sharp eye on us. We...

Happy Anniversary: The Janitor's Boy

The Janitor’s Boy by Andrew Clements was published by Simon & Schuster in 2000. We look back on it on its twentieth anniversary.   Published twenty years ago, The Janitor’s Boy was the third middle-grade novel by the late Andrew Clements, following a bestselling debut with Frindle and then The...

The Writer's Page: Compassion, as Well as Correctness

As a writer who is identifiable as “diverse” (I’m a South Asian Indian woman) and who has fought for diversity in our industry for over a decade, I’m often asked to offer an opinion about whether a specific book got a diversity-related issue “right.” While it’s easy for me to...

Books in the Home: The Joys of Cooking: Good Books About Good Food

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How does a person learn to cook? My mother prepared family meals every evening. She didn’t involve us in the making of the meal, but she was my model of a home cook who knew the importance of ­families eating together. She relied on a 1940s edition of The Boston...

Board Book Roundup: Board Books Build Brains

They rarely win awards. Few make it to the annual “best of” lists. They get stepped on, chewed, drooled on, and thrown. Their core audiences may not remember a word of them in a few scant years. Their pages are frequently viewed out of order. But board books are some...

Happy Anniversary: When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry...

When Sophie Gets Angry — Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang was published by Blue Sky in 1999. It celebrates its twentieth anniversary in 2019.   Before 1999, we had picture books about hurt feelings, friendship rifts, disappointment and sadness and sulkiness; about terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days. We...

Books in the Home: Reading with Sophie: Finding Books for a Teen with Special Needs

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How do you choose a book for a child who doesn’t have the capacity to choose one for herself? As the mother of a nonverbal teenager with autism and developmental delays, it is a question I ask myself all the time. When Sophie was first diagnosed in preschool, we were...

Borderlands: Reading as Theater

In the introduction to Worlds of Childhood: The Art and Craft of Writing for Children (1990), William Zinsser wrote, “This gift — to get good language into the ear of children at a very early age — is what children’s literature has in its power to bestow…to write well it...

Happy Anniversary: It's Perfectly Normal

It’s Perfectly Normal: A Book About Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley, was published by Candlewick in 1994. It celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2019.    Intended for readers ages ten and up, Harris and Emberley’s It’s Perfectly Normal was groundbreaking when it appeared on the scene...

Field Notes: Readers and Refugees

Beginning in the spring of 2018, IBBY [International Board on Books for Young People] Canada initiated the Readers and Refugees program in Toronto. The program was inspired by IBBY Children in Crisis Fund programs, such as IBBY–REFORMA’s joint Children in Crisis Project at the U.S./Mexico border and IBBY Italia’s work with...

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....

Happy Anniversary: Stevie

Stevie by John Steptoe (1950–1989) was published by Life magazine and then by Harper & Row in 1969. It celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2019.I locate the beginning of what I’ve come to call #blackboylit — literature for children and young adults that centers the experiences of boys of African...

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...

New for New Readers: What (Exactly) IS an Easy Reader?

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Why are high-quality books for emerging readers so challenging to find? I ask this question as a parent of an emerging reader, as well as in my professional capacity as an elementary school librarian. I’m also asked this same question by teachers, other parents, and professional colleagues. After ruminating about...

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...

Happy Anniversary: I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip.

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Our new column celebrates noteworthy book anniversaries. I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip. by John Donovan (1928–1992) was published by Harper & Row in 1969. It celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2019.Happy birthday, I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip.! You’re fifty years old in...

The Writer’s Page: "Speak with Us, Not for Us”

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KidLitWomen* was co-founded by Grace Lin and Karen Blumenthal in March 2018, with the mission of “calling attention to the gender inequities of our industry, uplifting the women who have not received their due, and finding solutions to reach equality.” The following article expands on a KidLitWomen* social media post...

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  ...

Board Book Roundup: Treasure Hunting in the Public Library

The parents, caregivers, and babies who visit the main branch of my public library love board books. They eat them up — sometimes literally. We keep the books jumbled in a long wooden bin that sits low to the floor on a cozy rug. Pre-walkers use the bin’s edge to...

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...

The Writer's Page: The Un-Hero's Journey

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Kekla Magoon at the Allen County Public Library's Pontiac Branch in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Photo: Benita BrowningMy very first author presentation was in a library branch in my hometown, the Allen County Public Library’s Pontiac Branch in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My first book, The Rock and the River, had just...

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...

New for New Readers: An Easy Reader Renaissance

In this first entry in a series, the Horn Book editors look at some of the new (and newish) easy readers that we’ve been enjoying while revisiting some old favorites. Recommendations are from The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide Online. You can find more on easy readers...

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...

Board Book Roundup: Baby Horn Boo! 2017 Edition

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, published seasonally. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine."What do birds say on Halloween?" "Trick or TWEET!" Here are some...

The Writer’s Page: On Home, Empathy, and Voice

I write, much of the time, from the perspective of a person who is not quite sure where home is. I am interested in figuring out how to make one.Home is a deceptively simple word. When those of us who work with children say it, we often assume it has...

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...

Board Book Roundup: Summer 2017 Edition

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine.Alphabet Family Bandby Sarah JonesBlue...

Books in the Home: What My First Grader Taught Me About Reading

Miles reads to his baby sister. Photo: Summer Clark.What does it mean to learn to read? As a former first-grade teacher and a professor of literacy education, I have constructed plenty of answers over the years. But witnessing the process as a parent has led me to challenge any overly...

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...

Board Book Roundup: Spring 2017 Edition

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This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine.Tinyville Town: I’m a Librarian...

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...

Board Book Roundup: Winter 2017 Edition: Bedtime Books

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine.Good Night, My Darling Babyby...

A Second Look: The Egypt Game

I was in second grade the first time I went to Egypt.Every Friday, I took a bus to another elementary school across town in order to attend a Gifted and Talented Education program. Once a week, I lived a separate school life, at a different campus with a different teacher...

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...

Books in the Home: "Mommy, Do I Have White Skin?": Skin Color, Family, and Picture Books

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When my son was five, he was watching TV when a commercial came on that showed a woman slathering her peach-colored arms with lotion. He glanced down at his own brown arm. After poking it with a finger, he asked: “Mommy, do I have white skin?”It was a moment that...

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...

Board Book Roundup: Fall 2016 Edition: Halloween

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine.The youngest children can join...
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