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The Book That Changed My Life: At Home in the Pages

My mother, now ninety — the first person who ever read poems to me — must have given me this book, but she does not remember the occasion. By the time I was seven (1959), my copy was hand-worn and familiar. I toted it proudly. At 608 pages, containing more than 700 poems, it was […]

Review of All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage 

Barge and Our Problem with Stuff

All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage 

Barge and Our Problem with Stuff by Meghan McCarthy; 

illus. by the author Primary    Wiseman/Simon    48 pp. 2/18    978-1-4814-7752-9    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-7753-6    $10.99 McCarthy sets her historical scene 
with three iconic 1980s images: a “speedy white car,” “boxy-looking computers,” and “big hair,” all depicted in […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Advice for an Author

I came across Alice Schertle’s book Advice for a Frog, published in 1995 and illustrated by Norman Green, at a time when I was still trying to find my voice in children’s literature. I’d written two middle-grade novels (rejected); countless picture-book texts (all rejected); many, many adult poems (let’s not even go there); and a […]

Review of The Belles

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton Middle School, High School    Freeform/Disney    440 pp. 2/18    978-1-4847-2849-9    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4847-3249-6    $10.99 In the fantastical courtly society of Orléans, everyone is born ugly — “skin pallid, gray, and shriveled, eyes cherry red, hair like straw — as if all the color was leeched out of them.” Everyone, that […]

Review of Night Out

Night Out by Daniel Miyares; illus. by the author Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.    g 5/18    978-1-5247-6572-9    $17.99 Library ed.  978-1-5247-6573-6    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5247-6574-3    $10.99 Boarding school (or perhaps it’s some kind of residential institution) is lonely for the solitary boy in this magical after-dark adventure. We see only one instance of his […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Barbara’s Book

I decided when I was a teenager that I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. I’d always considered myself an artist, but when I was in high school I narrowed my focus. Children’s books would be my life’s work. This decision came to me, in part, because of Barbara Bader’s book American Picturebooks from […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Oh, What a Circus

Dr. Seuss sketched the spiritual background of my childhood — particularly in books such as If I Ran the Circus, If I Ran the Zoo, and On Beyond Zebra! As a kid, I loved weird beasts, and each of these books featured a menagerie of goggle-eyed, fanged, tufty mammals with bizarre and hilarious habits. But really […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Aliens Don’t Discriminate

As a former librarian and teacher, I have seen the power of books and their ability to change lives—and save lives. A book is a place to fall in love with words, the first seeds to grow into a garden of imagination. The book that changed my life was Virginia Hamilton’s Willie Bea and the […]

Review of A Round of Robins

A Round of Robins by Katie Hesterman; 

illus. by Sergio Ruzzier Primary    Paulsen/Penguin    40 pp.    g 3/18    978-0-399-54778-2    $16.99 Sixteen poems follow a pair of robin parents as they raise not one but two sets of baby robins in this factual and funny volume. The story begins with “Defender Dad” telling three annoyed-looking birds on […]

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 […]