Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ALSC 2012 Notable Children's Books

2012 Notable Children's Books

Notable seal image
Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children's books. According to the Notables Criteria, "notable" is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children's books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children's interests in exemplary ways.

According to ALSC policy, the current year's Newbery, Caldecott, Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder Award and Honor books automatically are added to the Notable Children's Books list.
For your convenience, Notable Children's Books that have also received other ALA awards, such as the Coretta Scott King Award , Michael L. Printz Award, Alex Award, and Schneider Family Book Award, are noted on this list.


All the Water in the World. By George Ella Lyon, Illus. by Katherine Tillotson, Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
From deserts to the kitchen sink, the water cycle is lyrically yet economically described in Lyon’s poem emphasizing the importance of water conservation. Katherine Tillotson’s digital paintings splash, surge and drip off the page.
A Ball for Daisy. By Chris Raschka, Illus. by the author, Schwartz & Wade Books,
A wordless tale of an irrepressible little dog whose most prized possession is accidently destroyed. A buoyant tale of loss, recovery, and friendship. (2012 Caldecott Medal Book)
Blackout. By John Rocco, Illus. by the author. Disney/Hyperion Books.
A summer power outage draws an urban family up to their building’s roof and then down to the street for an impromptu block party. (A 2012 Caldecott Honor Book)
Bring on the Birds. By Susan Stockdale, Illus. by the author. Peachtree.
Rhyming couplets and clear, identifiable illustrations remind readers that birds vary in many ways, but all have feathers and are hatched from eggs. Colorful acrylics help provide just the right of information for preschool ornithologists.
The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred. By Samantha R. Vamos, Illus. by Rafael López. Charlesbridge.
Nothing is better than a delicious bowl of arroz con leche unless, of course, a host of farm animals have a hand in the preparation! (A 2012 Belpré Illustrator Honor Book)
Chirchir Is Singing. By Kelly Cunnane, Illus. by Jude Daly. Schwartz & Wade Books.
In this cumulative story set in Kenya, Chirchir sings as she tries to help with family chores. Acrylic folk art highlights the activities of daily life in this rural setting.
Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?, By Susan A. Shea, Illus. by Tom Slaughter. Blue Apple Books.
This book playfully challenges children’s concepts of the growth capacity of living vs. non-living things in a fun and engaging way.
Dot. By Patricia Intriago, Illus. by the author. Farrar Straus Giroux.
To a child’s delight, bright dots and brief rhyming verses cleverly demonstrate antonyms and synonyms in this clever picture book.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. By Sherri Duskey Rinker, Illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle Books.
Truck-loving toddlers will be willingly tucked into bed along with the vehicles in this superbly constructed goodnight poem.
Grandpa Green. By Lane Smith, Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook Press.
Elaborate topiary sculptures give visual form to memories in a wildly fanciful garden tended by a child and his beloved great-grandfather. (A 2012 Caldecott Honor Book)
Harry and Hopper. By Margaret Wild, Illus. by Freya Blackwood. Feiwel & Friends.
A poignant depiction of grief and acceptance at the loss of a beloved pet is relayed in this quietly moving story whose illustrations add emotional depth.
I Broke My Trunk. By Mo Willems. Illus. by the author. Hyperion Books for Children.
Piggie is very concerned about his best friend, Gerald the Elephant, who has broken his trunk, and Gerald tells him a long, rambling story about how it happened. (A 2012 Geisel Honor Book)
I Want My Hat Back. By Jon Klassen, Illus. by the author. Candlewick Press.
After losing his hat, Bear politely and patiently questions his fellow forest dwellers as to the whereabouts of his “red pointy hat.” (A 2012 Geisel Honor Book)
King Jack and the Dragon. By Peter Bently, Illus. by Helen Oxenbury. Dial Books for Young Readers.
Enhanced by whimsical illustrations, this story of the wonders and terrors created by a child’s imagination, shows the power of playtime and the magic of make-believe.
Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World. By Jacqueline K. Ogburn. Illus. by Chris Raschka. Houghton Mifflin.
Raschka’s pictures give distinct personalities to the subjects of these endearments and the book is a reminder of how much children are loved in every language and culture. Translations and pronunciation guides are included.
Little White Rabbit. By Kevin Henkes, Illus. by the author. Greenwillow Books.
Little white rabbit explores the springtime world wondering what it would be like to be different - green, tall, solid, or able to fly - but when he comes home he knows who loves him.
Me...Jane. By Patrick McDonnell, Illus. by the author. Little, Brown.
Watching birds and squirrels in her yard, a young girl discovers the joy and wonder of nature. A glimpse of the childhood of renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. (A 2012 Caldecott Honor Book)
Mouse & Lion. By Rand Burkert, Illus. by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. di Capua/Scholastic.
Mouse is the center of this retelling of a familiar Aesop’s fable. Elegant illustrations place the story solidly in the natural world of Africa.
Naamah and the Ark at Night. By Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Illus. by Holly Meade. Candlewick Press.
As the waters rage, this lullaby reveals Noah’s wife as a nurturer of diverse creatures aboard the ark. Watercolor and collage illustrations amplify the text, a form of lyrical Arabic poetry, called ghazal.
A New Year's Reunion: A Chinese Story. By Yu Li-Qiong, Illus. by Zhu Cheng-Liang, Candlewick Press.
Vibrant illustrations highlight a young girl’s joy when her father makes his annual visit for Chinese New Year in this tender story.
Over and Under the Snow. By Kate Messner, Illus. by Christopher Silas Neal. Chronicle Books.
While skiing cross-country with her father, a girl envisions the “secret kingdom” under the snow, where small forest animals shelter in winter. Neal’s bright, snowy landscapes contrast with his depictions of shadowed, subterranean nests.
Prudence Wants a Pet. By Cathleen Daly, Illus. by Stephen Michael King. Roaring Brook Press.
In this quietly humorous picture book illustrated in soft colors, Prudence tries out a branch, a twig, a shoe, her little brother, a tire, and sea buddies until her parents finally give her a kitten as a pet.
See Me Run. By Paul Meisel, Illus. by the author. Holiday House.
Dogs and more dogs are everywhere: running, sliding, jumping, splashing, and having fun. (A 2012 Geisel Honor Book)
Should I Share My Ice Cream? By Mo Willems, Illus. by the author. Hyperion Books for Children.
A common human problem is posed and solved with Willems’ minimal illustration and graceful humor.
Stars. By Mary Lyn Ray, Illus. by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane Books.
A duet of spare, poetic observations and ethereal illustrations explore the realities and possibilities of many kinds of stars, embracing the immediacy of a child’s experiences. A great read aloud.
Tales for Very Picky Eaters. By Josh Schneider, Illus. by the author, Clarion Books.
Five chapters recount James’ refusal to eat yet another disgusting, smelly, repulsive, lumpy, or slimy food. (2012 Geisel Medal Book)
Tell Me the Day Backwards. By Albert Lamb, Illus. by David McPhail, Candlewick Press.
Mama bear and child reflect on the day, recounting its events in reverse order. Gentle and reassuring, this book wonderfully illustrates a sometimes difficult concept: the flow of time.
Ten Little Caterpillars. By Bill Martin, Jr., Illus. by Lois Ehlert. Beach Lane Books.
Ten different caterpillars inch their ways across vibrantly-illustrated environs in this newly-illustrated, rhyming story. Supplemental facts widen the book’s appeal and usefulness. Ehlert’s watercolor collages are remarkably entomologically accurate.
These Hands. By Margaret H. Mason, Illus. by Floyd Cooper. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Both an affirmation of a nurturing relationship between grandfather and grandson and an explanation of one reason labor unions fought for workers’ rights, the brief text and warm illustrations tell an uplifting American story.
Tìa Isa Wants a Car. By Meg Medina, Illus. by Claudio Muñoz. Candlewick Press.
Using a cheerful positive tone, Medina depicts a warm relationship between Tia Isa and her niece and shows the strength of community as a life-long dream is realized.
Where's Walrus? By Stephen Savage, Illus. by the author. Scholastic.
Walrus escapes from the zoo and cleverly disguises himself around the city; the zoopkeeper and the children reading the book search for him on each bold, bright page of this wordless book.
Who Has What?: All About Girls' Bodies and Boys' Bodies. By Robie H. Harris, Illus. by Nadine Bernard Westcott. Candlewick Press.
In a cheerful, easy tone, Harris explains who’s got what body parts, their similarities of differences. Girls, boys and adults of many ethnicities – even animals – are included in the loose-lined illustrations depicting the “bare” facts.


America is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell. By Don Brown, Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook Press.
A straightforward account of the September 11th tragedy, Brown’s restrained watercolors and sensitive text focuses on small stories of those who were in the Towers and the people who responded to the disaster.
Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade. By Melissa Sweet, Illus. by the author. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.
This story of Tony Sarg, the artistic inventor who conceived the huge balloons that float through New York City each Thanksgiving, joyously celebrates his life’s creative process. (2012 Sibert Medal Book)
Breaking Stalin's Nose. By Eugene Yelchin, Illus. by the author, Henry Holt.
On the eve of his induction into the Young Pioneers, Sasha’s world is overturned when his father is arrested by Stalin’s guard. (A 2012 Newbery Honor Book)
The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale. By Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright, Illus. by Barry Moser. Peachtree Publishers.
Alley-cat Skilley finds a perfect home, gets help from a friend to return an injured raven to the Tower of London and saves all the Cheshire Cheese Inn mice from the evil Pinch.
Diego Rivera: His World and Ours. By Duncan Tonatiuh , Illus. by the author, Abrams Books for Young Readers
The accomplishments of Mexican painter, activist, and muralist Diego Rivera are highlighted in stylized illustrations. (2012 Belpré Illustrator Medal Book)
Dream Something Big: The Story of the Watts Towers. By Dianna Hutts Aston, Illus. by Susan L. Roth. Dial Books for Young Readers.
The human desire to make a mark is celebrated in this fictionalized account of Simon Rodia’s process in building the Watts Towers – a singular, eccentric, artistic creation now recognized as a National Landmark.
E-mergency! By Tom Lichtenheld, Illus. by Ezra Fields-Meyer. Chronicle Books.
When the letter ‘E’ falls down the stairs and hurts her leg, the rest of the alphabet must do the best it can to limp along without its most-used letter. Puns aplenty pack every page.
Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems. By Kristine O'Connell George, Illus. by Nancy Carpenter. Clarion Books.
Sisterhood is complicated: partly embarrassing, partly affectionate, partly competitive, partly supportive, partly confining, partly empowering. The many facets of the relationship are deftly described by George’s poems and Carpenter’s pen and ink drawings.
The Great Migration: Journey to the North. By Eloise Greenfield, Illus. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. HarperCollins Children's Books/Amistad.
Muted mixed media illustrations set the tone for somber yet hopeful free verse honoring the author's family as they journeyed north from the Jim Crow South. A haunting view of a pivotal moment in U.S. history. (A 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book)
Inside Out and Back Again. By Thanhha Lai. HarperCollins.
Hà and her family flee war-torn Vietnam for the American South. In spare, vivid verse, she chronicles her struggle to find her place in a new world. (A 2012 Newbery Honor Book)
Junonia. By Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books.
Alice knows just how her vacation on Sanibel Island should be: the same as the previous nine, except that this year she hopes to find a rare junonia shell. Alice's tenth birthday, however, brings unexpected changes.
Lemonade, and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word. By Bob Raczka, Illus. by Nancy Doniger. Roaring Brook Press.
Think of a word, then compose a poem using only the letters in that word. Amusing challenges for poet and reader alike, these poem-puzzles are illustrated with similarly playful brush-paintings. Great fun for classroom or budding poets.
The Lily Pond. By Annika Thor. Trans. by Linda Schenck. Delacorte Press.
This sequel to “A Faraway Island” continues the story of thirteen-year-old Stephie Steiner, a Jewish refugee whose parents have sent her from Nazi-occupied Vienna to Sweden. (2012 Batchelder Honor Book)
The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families. By Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, Illus. by Susan L. Roth. Lee & Low Books.
Through a “This is the House That Jack Built” formula, the story of an ecological and environmental triumph is told so that even very young children can understand the interrelationships between plants, animals and people.
Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match /Marisol McDonald no combina. By Monica Brown, Illus. by Sara Palacios. Children's Book Press, an imprint of Lee and Low Books.
Bright, vivacious Marisol, a Peruvian-Scottish-American girl, loves peanut butter and jelly burritos and speaks both English and Spanish, but her teacher and classmates do not appreciate Marisol’s mashing of cultures. (A 2012 Belpré Illustrator Honor Book)
Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller. By Xavier Garza. Cinco Puntos Press.
Eleven-year-old Max discovers that his favorite Lucha Libre wrestler is coming to town and might have a strange connection with his own family. (A 2012 Belpré Author Honor Book)
Migrant. By Maxine Trottier, Illus. by Isabelle Arsenault. Groundwood Books.
This unique story about a group of migrant workers – Mennonites – is told through the eyes of young Anna, who reflects upon their peripatetic life and the hardships it creates.
Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic. By Robert Burleigh, Illus. by Wendell Minor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Sit with Amelia Earhart in her red Vega as she flies across the Atlantic and startles a farmer in Northern Ireland by landing in his field.
No Ordinary Day. By Deborah Ellis. Groundwood Books.
Valli, a resourceful homeless nine-year-old, learns she has leprosy. An encounter with a kind doctor gives her the chance to heal and find a home. Illuminates harsh realities in contemporary India.
Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists. Ed. by Chris Duffy, Illus. by various artists. First Second.
A lively compilation of 50 nursery rhymes interpreted and illustrated in diverse and distinctive styles by a different cartoonist or graphic artists. The introduction by Leonard Marcus puts it all in focus.
Soldier Bear. By Bibi Dumon Tak, Illus. by Philip Hopman. Trans. by Laura Watkinson. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
Based on a true story and set during World War II, the novel follows the journey of refugee Polish soldiers and the mischievous young bear they acquire in the Iranian desert. (2012 Batchelder Award Book)
The Third Gift. By Linda Sue Park, Illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Clarion Books.
Ibatoulline’s sumptuous, highly finished gouaches invite the reader into a distant time and landscape where a young Arab boy and his father harvest myrrh for three mysterious strangers.
Thunder Birds: Nature's Flying Predators. By Jim Arnosky, Illus. by the author. Sterling.
Arnosky describes and illustrates the qualities of magnificent raptors. Distinctive acrylic and chalk paintings depict birds gazing at readers from their natural environments. Four large fold out pages shows some birds in actual size.
Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters. By Donna Jo Napoli, Illus. by Christina Balit. National Geographic Society.
From the chaos that spawned Gaia to the horrors of the Trojan War, this is the most comprehensive and lavishly illustrated compendium of Greek mythology since the D’Aulaires’ offering. Timeline, cast of characters, map appended.
The Trouble with May Amelia. By Jennifer L. Holm. Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
May Amelia is always in trouble but never more than when she translates an offer from a con man for her father. A companion to My Only May Amelia, it stands sturdily on its own.
Underground. By Shane Evans, Illus. by Shane Evans. Roaring Brook Press.
Spare text describes a long dangerous night time journey on the Underground Railroad. The striking illustrations with their dark palette burst into light as the travelers reach freedom. (The 2012 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Medal Book)
The Unforgotten Coat. By Frank Cottrell Boyce, Illus. by Carl Hunter, and Clare Heney. Candlewick Press.
Julie recalls her sixth year classmates Chingis and Nergui, two Mongolian brothers, their strange polaroid photographs, sketchy descriptions of Mongolia, and their very real fear of demons in this offbeat, haunting story.
The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps. By Jeanette Winter, Illus. by Jeanette Winter. Schwartz & Wade Books.
Winter presents inquisitive and independent Goodall from girlhood to the Gombe Stream and beyond in her search to understand chimpanzees. Stylized acrylics show scientist and animals in the abundant foliage of Africa.
Wonderstruck. By Brian Selznick, Illus. by the author. Scholastic.
Two parallel stories set 50 years apart converge in this textual and visual story of adventurous Ben and Rose as it explores topics of deafness, silence, wolves, and museums. (A 2012 Schneider Family Award Book)
Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku. By Lee Wardlaw, Illus. by Eugene Yelchin. Henry Holt.
From animal shelter cage to a loving home, Won Ton’s experience is told from his point of view in senryu, a form of Japanese poetry similar to Haiku.
Young Fredle. By Cynthia Voigt, Illus. by Louise Yates. Alfred A. Knopf.
Exiled from his home in the pantry, Fredle, a mouse with a sweet tooth and unusual curiosity, discovers the wonders and dangers of the outside world. He learns to question the rules and returns home a changed mouse.
Zita the Spacegirl. By Ben Hatke, Illus. by the author. First Second.
When a little red button crashes to earth any self-respecting graphic novel character would push it. When Joseph is whisked through an inter-dimensional portal to an alien planet, Zita follows to rescue him.


Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. By Candace Fleming. Schwartz & Wade Books.
In her clear, readable style, Fleming shows how Earhart captured the public imagination. Chapters of background information alternate with the chilling account of her final flight. Enhanced with maps, archival documents, news photos, and other contemporary sources.
Anya's Ghost. By Vera Brosgol. First Second.
This graphic novel tells the story of Anya, a Russian immigrant, whose lack of self-esteem changes when her life is almost taken over by a determined ghost.
Between Shades of Gray. By Ruta Sepetys. Philomel Books.
Stalin’s deportation and imprisonment of Lithuanian families in Siberia is brought to vivid life in Sepetys’ searing novel, narrated by Lina, a 15-year-old who writes, “They took me in my nightgown.” (A YALSA Morris Award Finalist)
Billions of Years, Amazing Changes: The Story of Evolution. By Laurence Pringle, Illus. by Steve Jenkins. Boyds Mills Press.
Pringle looks at the evidence from geology, biology, botany, and scientific reason to explain evolution. Readable text, pertinent illustrations matter of factly clarify concepts and the meaning of theory.
Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene 'Bull' Connor. By Larry Dane Brimner. Calkins Creek.
This powerful examination of a crucial dichotomy in the civil rights movement focuses on two polar opposites—one man committed to ending segregation, and one just as determined to see it maintained. (A 2012 Sibert Honor Book)
Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917. By Sally M. Walker. Henry Holt.
Clear and compelling description and analysis of scientific evidence and historic events brings this little-known tragedy to life, a history made personal by its focus on five families, some who survived, some who perished.
Bluefish. By Pat Schmatz. Candlewick Press.
The significance of reading is personified by two eighth graders, functionally illiterate Travis and feisty, starved-for-affection Velveeta, who come together in a tenuous, prickly relationship.
Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition. By Karen Blumenthal. Roaring Brook Press.
Lively prose and interesting anecdotes make the history of Prohibition accessible while the examination of unintended consequences make this chronicle relevant to today's political world. (A 2012 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist)
Dead End in Norvelt. By Jack Gantos. Farrar Straus Giroux.
An achingly funny romp through a dying New Deal town. While mopping up epic nose bleeds, Jack narrates this screw-ball mystery in an endearing and believable voice. (2012 Newbery Medal Book)
Drawing from Memory. By Allen Say, Illus. by the author. Scholastic Press.
Say, an esteemed children’s book creator, engagingly relays his early training, including the influences of his family and his artistic sensei. (A 2012 Sibert Honor Book)
The Elephant Scientist. By Caitlin O'Connell and Donna M. Jackson, Illus. by Caitlin O'Connell and Timothy Rodwell. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.
Power-packed photos and prose transport readers to the dusty world of African elephants and a woman who studies them. (A 2012 Sibert Honor Book)
The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman. By Meg Wolitzer. Dutton Childrens Books.
Three 12-year-olds from different parts of the country participate in the national Youth Scrabble Tournament in Florida. Their discoveries about themselves, their friends and families turn out to be more important than winning in this perceptive story.
Flyaway. By Lucy Christopher. Chicken House.
While Isla’s father is in the hospital, she befriends another patient, Harry. In this touching story, Isla tries to help Harry, her father and a swan, all of whom are struggling to survive.
Hidden. By Helen Frost. Farrar Straus Giroux.
Six years have passed since Darra's father stole a car in which Wren was hiding. Now 14, Darra and Wren, once again cross paths. A suspenseful verse novel, told in two distinct voices.
The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China. By Ed Young and Libby Koponen, Illus. by Ed Young. Little, Brown.
With multimedia scrapbook images that intrigue, astonish, and surprise, Ed Young recalls his childhood in war-torn Shanghai, introduces his extended family, and describes their life in the house his father designed.
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. By Georgia Bragg, Illus. by Kevin O'Malley. Walker & Co.
A wildly humorous collective biography featuring horrifying medical treatments and deaths of nineteen famous men and women, this surprisingly heavily researched compendium is terrific book bait for reluctant readers.
Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck. By Margarita Engle. Henry Holt.
This historical novel in verse is the story of Quebrado, son of a Taíno Indian mother and a Spanish father, who is kidnapped in 1510 from his island village (present-day Cuba) and enslaved on a pirate’s ship. (A 2012 Belpré Author Honor Book)
Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air. By Stuart Ross, Illus. by Stephen Biesty. Candlewick Press.
How did those great explorers travel? What did they wear? Where did they pee? And what did they find on their journeys? Much is revealed in the text and unfolding cross-sections of this fascinating volume.
Jefferson's Sons: A Founding Father's Secret Children. By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Dial Books for Young Readers.
Told from the point of view of three young slaves, two of them fathered by Thomas Jefferson, this well-researched and moving novel provides insight into their lives as it raises important and difficult questions.
Lost & Found. By Shaun Tan, Illus. by the author. Arthur A. Levine Books.
By turns mysterious, dreamlike, nightmarish, goofily endearing, and spookily surreal, these stories by Shaun Tan seemingly transport us to three very different worlds. Each page is a work of art.
A Monster Calls: A Novel. By Patrick Ness. Candlewick Press.
Thirteen-year-old Conor deals with a monster who tells him three stories in exchange for facing his greatest fear.
Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein. By Susan Goldman Rubin. Charlesbridge.
This exemplary, inspiring biography chronicles the life of Leonard Bernstein from early childhood to his triumphant debut at age twenty-five, as conductor of the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. Engaging social history with appeal beyond music students. (A 2012 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist)
Okay for Now. By Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion Books.
Unable to read and abused by his father, 13-year-old Doug befriends spunky Lili and a sensitive librarian who shows him how to draw Audubon’s birds. Both make a difference in his previously limited world.
Queen of Hearts. By Martha Brooks. Farrar Straus Giroux.
In 1941 Manitoba, Marie-Claire tells the moving story of her coming-of-age as a 16-year-old in a tuberculosis sanitorium.
Raggin', Jazzin', Rockin': A History of American Musical Instrument Makers. By Susan VanHecke. Boyds Mills Press.
Steinway on pianos, Zildjian on cymbals, Martin and Fender on guitars...we meet these people and their iconic instruments in this intriguing introduction. Generously illustrated with photographs of the instruments, musicians, and more.
The Scorpio Races. By Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic Press.
Deadly horses emerge from the sea and collide with island inhabitants in a bloody annual race for prize money and the fulfillment of dreams. Rich language portrays characters, action, and setting leading to an intoxicating climax. (A 2012 YALSA Printz Honor Book)
Sita's Ramayana. By Samhita Arni, Illus. by Moyna Chitrakar. Groundwood/House of Anansi.
Using a graphic novel format, this powerful saga of Rama is told from his abducted and mistrusted wife Sita’s point of view.
Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time: What the Hubble Telescope Saw. By Elaine Scott. Clarion Books.
An intriguing look at the creation and scientific revelations of the Hubble telescope. Complex science, clearly explained and beautifully illustrated with Hubble images
Stones for My Father. By Trilby Kent. Tundra Books.
In evocative prose, Kent creates a compelling survival story of young Corlie Roux, a Boer girl in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the last century.
Tall Story. By Candy Gourlay. David Fickling Books/Random House Children's Books.
Andi’s half brother is finally joining the family from the Philippines. Eight feet tall, it’s obvious that Bernardo is going to have trouble fitting in. A poignant and humorous novel.
Terezin: Voices from the Holocaust. By Ruth Thomson. Candlewick Press.
Secret diary entries, excerpts from memoirs, and inmate artwork illuminate the dark story of the Nazi's transit camp Terezin. Young readers will appreciate the oversized, magazine type layout.
Under the Mesquite. By Guadalupe Garcia McCall. Lee & Low Books.
The story of fourteen-year-old Lupita, growing up in a bicultural community in Texas and dealing with her mother’s terminal illness, is told in emotionally riveting free verse. (2012 Belpré Author Medal Book and a YALSA Morris Award Finalist)
Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem. By Rosalyn Schanzer, Illus. by the author. National Geographic Society.
Readers will be stunned by the research and accusations in this pivotal drama of American history. This work of art presents an account of our past and asks questions of our future. (A 2012 Sibert Honor Book)

All Ages

Can We Save the Tiger?, By Martin Jenkins, Illus. by Vicky White. Candlewick Press.
White’s cover illustration of a regal tiger pulls readers into a balanced discussion of human interaction with nature and how we affect endangered species. Handsome pencil illustrations make readers care about creatures large and small.
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. By Kadir Nelson, Illus. by the author. Balzer + Bray.
In just 100 pages, Nelson's narrator tells the story of American history through the eyes of African-Americans. Forty-six luminous oil paintings portray iconic and ordinary images and make the history accessible for younger students; older students will find it equally intriguing. (The 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Medal Book and Illustrator Honor Book)
If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet. By Leslie McGuirk, Illus. by the author. Tricycle Press.
Children and teachers will be inspired by this quirky concept book that uses shaped rocks as letters and objects. An alphabet book like no other.
Never Forgotten. By Patricia McKissack, Illus. by Leo and Diane Dillon. Schwartz & Wade Books.
A boy captured by slave traders in 18th Century Africa is brought to the Americas. This verse novel answers the question, “Were we missed?” asked by the descendants of slaves stolen from Africa. (A 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book)
Press Here. By Hervé Tullet, Illus. by the author. Trans. by Christopher Franceschelli. Handprint Books/Chronicle.
A whimsical, interactive picture book that draws readers through its pages by having them tap, clap, and follow other simple but enticing instructions.
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature. By Joyce Sidman, Illus. by Beth Krommes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
A poem about spirals in nature invites close contemplation of the versatile, expansive shape beautifully portrayed from simple snail to coiled snake, or snuggling woodchuck to swimming nautilus in Krommes’ scratchboard illustrations.
Members of the 2012 Notable Children's Books Committee were: Kathleen T. Isaacs, chair, Pasadena, Md.; Meagan Albright, Alvin Sherman Library, Research and Information Technology Center, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua (N.Y.) Library; Dana Buttler, Beaver Acres Elementary School, Beaverton, Ore.; Patricia Carleton, St. Louis (Mo.) Public Library; Rosemary S. Chance, Dept. of Library Science, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; Barabara A. Chatton, University of Wyoming, Laramie; Edith Ching, Silver Spring, Md; Betsy Fraser, Calgary (Alberta) Public Library; Maryann H. Owen, Racine (Wis.) Public Library, and Linda A. Perkins, Berkeley (Calif.) Public Library.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Eve at the Mellops' by Tomi Ungerer

The story of Mr. Mellops and his four sons: Casimir, Isidor, Felix, and Ferdinand, and what happens when they all have the same inspiration to surprise the family with a Christmas tree.  Their hall ends up filled with "trees and tears" until Mr. Mellops brings up a charitable solution.  Originally published in 1960, Christmas Eve at the Mellops' is sweet and charming, everything that a well-crafted picture book should be.

The Dolls' Christmas by Tasha Tudor

Published in 1950, this delightful child-sized book tells the story of two dolls named Sethany Ann and Nicey Melinda and the little girls who own them, two sisters named Laura and Efner.  The dolls live in an amazing doll house called Pumpkin House, seen in the illustration below.  Old fashioned and sentimental with highly detailed watercolor illustrations, this book transports the reader to a world where playing with dolls is a complete lifestyle, with great care and attention given to every aspect of the dolls' environment and active social lives.  Highly recommended!

Why Legos Are So Expensive --- And So Popular by Chana Joffe-Walt, NPR

Why Legos Are So Expensive — And So Popular

I went to Toys R Us recently to buy my son a Lego set for Hanukkah. Did you know a small box of Legos costs $60? Sixty bucks for 102 plastic blocks!
In fact, I learned, Lego sets can sell for thousands of dollars. And despite these prices, Lego has about 70 percent of the construction-toy market. Why? Why doesn't some competitor sell plastic blocks for less? Lego's patents expired a while ago. How hard could it be to make a cheap knockoff?
Luke, a 9-year-old Lego expert, set me straight.
"They pay attention to so much detail," he said. "I never saw a Lego piece ... that couldn't go together with another one."
Lego goes to great lengths to make its pieces really, really well, says David Robertson, who is working on a book about Lego.
Inside every Lego brick, there are three numbers, which identify exactly which mold the brick came from and what position it was in in that mold. That way, if there's a bad brick somewhere, the company can go back and fix the mold.
For decades this is what kept Lego ahead. It's actually pretty hard to make millions of plastic blocks that all fit together.
But over the past several years, a competitor has emerged: Mega Bloks. Plastic blocks that look just like Legos, snap onto Legos and are often half the price.
So Lego has tried other ways to stay ahead.
The company tried to argue in court that no other company had the legal right to make stacking blocks that look like Legos.
"That didn't fly," Robertson says. "Every single country that Lego tried to make that argument in decided against Lego."
But Lego did find a successful way to do something Mega Bloks could not copy: It bought the exclusive rights to Star Wars. If you want to build a Death Star out of plastic blocks, Lego is now your only option.
The Star Wars blocks were wildly successful. So Lego kept going — it licensed Indiana Jones, Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story and Harry Potter.
Sales of these products have been huge for Lego. More important, the experience has taught the company that what kids wanted to do with the blocks was tell stories. Lego makes or licenses the stories they want to tell.
And kids know the difference.
"If you were talking to a friend you wouldn't say, 'Oh my God, I just got a big set of Mega Bloks,' " Luke says. "When you say Legos they would probably be like, 'Awesome can we go to your house and play?' "
Lego made almost $3.5 billion in revenue last year. Mega made a tenth of that.
But Mega Bloks may yet gain on Lego.
Mega now owns the rights to Thomas the Tank Engine, Hello Kitty, and the video game Halo. And, on shelves for the first time ever this week: Mega Bloks Barbies.

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Fells Branch Board Books and What Makes a Good Board Book?

Have a child that still loves board books? Come visit the Fells Branch to see all of the new board book arrivals, perfect for little hands! The Fells is open Tuesday and Friday 9:00-12:00 and 9:00-5:00 on Saturday.

Having trouble deciding which board book is best for your little book baby? Check out The Horn Book's "what makes a great board book" article. Or you can always ask one of our helpful children's librarians! 

"Next Step" Toddler Books

Have a child that has outgrown board books, but isn't quite ready for picture books? Visit the children's department and check out our "next step" toddler book display! These picture books and series feature simple text and stories with "toddler friendly" sturdy pages - perfect for that in-between phase! Popular series that feature these thicker pages include the "Spot the dog" series by Eric Hill, the "Katie" and "Kevin" series by Liesbet Slegers, and the "super sturdy picture book" collection from Candlewick Press. Pick up a bookmark book list for easy reference!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

High Demand Book Bins at the Hills Branch!

Head for the Hills Branch to check out the new high-demand book bins that have been added to the children's collection in the Jack Ramsden Children's Room! These book bins will help patrons and parents easily answer their children's "where are the truck books" type questions! Current bin topics include: Farm, Pirates, Princesses, Superheros!, Trains and Trucks.

The goal of these bins are to empower parents and our youngest patrons to quickly and easily find books on these highly requested topics. We'd love to hear your feedback and let us know what you think of these new bins and if there are other topics you'd like to see in the future. Check out the pictures below of the new bins and the fabulous illustrations that accompany them done by our very talented Children's Department Director! 

Middle School Madness - Get your game on!

The Middle School Madness crew kicked it old school recently with a "get your game on" event in the Quigley Youth Room. Teens enjoyed free pizza and refreshments as they challenged each other to Simpsons Clue, Fact or Crap, Star Wars Monopoly and more. Check out the photos below and let us know what your favorite board game is in the comments!

Be sure to join us for our next Middle School Madness event on Friday, December 21st in the Wakelin Room at 3:00 where we'll be screening The Hunger Games movie! And as always, free food and refreshments will be provided. See you there!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A few books about sweaters for the brisk weather...

LESTER'S DREADFUL SWEATERS (reviewed on July 1, 2012)
Cousin Clara, who may or may not be related to the rest of the family, knits horrid sweaters at a breakneck speed. Clara, her tiny hat perched on her impossibly oval head, an innocent-looking basket of knitting in hand, arrives ready to recover from an unfortunate crocodile attack. So begins this over-the-top story of lost-and-found collections, journals of “Suspicious Stuff Starting with C” and fantastic sweaters. Clara does not knit run-of-the-mill ordinary cardigans and pullovers. Starting with a “less-than-pleasant yellow and smothered with purple pom-poms” hooded number, Clara insists on cranking out one absurd creation after another. Wearing these monstrosities to school proves embarrassing for Lester. After each humiliating day, the sweater of the day ends up shrunken, shredded, unraveled, pecked to pieces or stolen. Each colored-pencil illustration cranks up the dark humor, culminating with Lester covered in dripping red yarn, scissors in hand, while Clara wickedly smiles at the crime scene. Each detailed spread is filled with creepy shadowing and fabulous eye contact among the many characters. Lively writing is peppered with clever alliteration and wordplay. Lucky for Lester, a troupe of clowns appreciates Clara’s creations.
Children forced to wear horrid clothing made by well-meaning relatives will laugh in sympathy with Lester. If Edward Gorey and Polly Horvath had a literary love child, this would be it. (Picture book. 5-9)

THE HUEYS IN THE NEW SWEATER (reviewed on April 15, 2012)
The clothes make the Huey in Jeffers’ picture-book ode to nonconformity.
In what promises to be the first in a series about the Hueys, little egg-shaped creatures with just lines for limbs, the cast of characters are indistinguishable from one another until a fellow named Rupert knits himself an orange sweater. The text plainly states that “most of the other Hueys were horrified!” when Huey strolls by in his jaunty new duds. And the subsequent line, “Rupert stood out like a sore thumb,” is delightfully understated, since his oval form wrapped up in an orange sweater looks rather sore-thumb–like. Then, another Huey named Gillespie decides that “being different was interesting,” and he knits himself a sweater just like Rupert’s. This gets the proverbial ball of yarn rolling, and, in scenes reminiscent of TheSneetches, soon many, many Hueys are knitting and donning identical orange sweaters in order to “be different too!” In Jeffers’ expert hands, the message of respecting individuality comes through with a light touch as Rupert concludes the story by deciding to shake things up again as he dons a hat. “And that changed everything,” reads the closing text, with a page turn revealing a little parade of Hueys decked out in a broad array of different clothing, from feather boas to pirate hats.
A joyful take on a serious lesson. (Picture book. 3-6)

A Thanksgiving favorite...

The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

EVERYONE LOVES MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE! From Montana to Maine and Kentucky to California, families across the country begin their Thanksgiving celebrations by watching the parade as it winds its way through New York’s iconic streets. How do they maneuver those huge balloons of favorite characters down Manhattan’s crowded avenues?
BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY tells the amazing story of Tony Sarg, the incredible puppeteer and marionette master who created the first Macy’s larger-than-life parade balloons in 1928. "With a marionette, the controls are above and the puppet hangs down, but what if the controls were below and the puppet could rise up?" Tony thought. And everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition was born!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Charlotte's Web is 60!

Join us on Saturday, November 24th at 2 p.m. for a celebration of  the 60th anniversary of the beloved children’s classic by E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web; our celebration will include a reading from the book and the unveiling of our new Charlotte’s Web sculpture!  Generously donated by Wellesley residents Roy and Jean Perkinson, this adorable sculpture depicts Wilbur, Charlotte and Templeton crated up for the county fair.  Created with papier maché by Canadian artist Rion Microys, this piece captures the whimsy and joy of E.B. White’s story and is certain to become a great attraction in the Wellesley Free Library’s children’s room.

A Child's Guide to Anarchy

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Our new favorite book!

"Rarely does a debut so justly and eloquently lay down its claim to be a classic; Archie is a comic masterpiece. Gloriously understated and beautifully drawn, it wins on every score"
- Alexander Armstrong (Armstrong and Miller)
"I love Archie! He made me laugh out loud."
- Fern Britton

"Witty, fantastical, totally loveable with a very loyal ending"
- Clarissa Dickson Wright
Meet Archie: Designer. Fashionista. Dog. Archie leads a quiet life with his faithful pet. That is, until he gets a sewing machine and his creativity starts to run wild. It's not long before Archie's nimbleness with a needle catches the attention of his friends and fellow dog walkers. Soon, the entire city is straining at the leash for one of his couture concoctions... including a queen and her two very royal corgis. This enchanting, nearly wordless picture book about following your dreams wherever they may lead will inspire and delight readers of all ages.

Archie by Domenica More Gordon - trailer

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Time of Wonder

Awarded the Caldecott Medal as "The most distinguished American picture book of 1958," Time of Wonder is the classic story of a never-to-be forgotten summer, here produced from reoriginated plates to capture all the beauty of Mr. McCloskey's original illustrations.
Among the islands of Maine you'll find all that children and about the sea, the shore, and quiet forests beyond, as well as the excitement of preparations for a hurricane and the wonder of exploring the trunks, upper limbs, and giant trees felled by the storm.
As The Horn Book wrote, " The author has succeeded in transferring his love for the Maine Islands to the printed page and as you listen to his words and look at his pictures you feel every day and every season is a 'time of wonder.' This is a [book] of great beauty."

A good story for a New England hurricane...


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Middle School Madness... It Came From the Library!

We recently celebrated Teen Read week at the WFL with an "...It Came From the Library!" themed Middle School Madness event! Free pizza, Halloween candy and refreshments were enjoyed as zombie and monster themed games dominated the afternoon. Prizes were handed out for the best attempt to pin the body part on the zombie, the teens who knew the most monster trivia in our BINGO games, the team "most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse", and finally, to the team who made the best toilet paper mummy! Entries for that last game were too tough to judge so we called it a draw. Check out the photos below of those epic mummies and let us know who you think had the best creation!

Be sure to join us for our next Middle School Madness event on Friday, November 30th in the Quigley Youth Room at 3:30 where we'll be breaking out the board games! We'll be kicking it old school with card games and classic board games, including: Set, Simpsons Clue, Pictureka, and more! If you have a favorite game, feel free to bring it! And as always, free pizza and refreshments will be provided. See you there!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A frequent topic of conversation in the children's room at the WFL...

Books in the Home: Reading Up

rowling harrypotterdeathlyhallows 198x300 Books in the Home: Reading Up

Like many writers, I had a reading childhood, but I’ve only recently understood how countercultural my mother was about my reading. My brother and sister and I are close in age, so when I was a child there were no big-kid books and little-kid books; no girl books and boy books. All the books belonged to all of us. They were shelved together in the living room, picture books through adult novels, fiction and nonfiction jumbled up in a wonderfully inviting way. My mother read to me extensively until I could read for myself, and then she not only stopped reading to me altogether but stopped supervising my reading. I was let loose to develop my own tastes and check out whatever caught my eye at the library.
When my children were young, I was happy to follow my mother’s lead and not keep books by gender or level or topic. Each of my four children had his or her favorites, and a few, very tattered, books were adored by everyone. When the kids were all younger than ten they moved fluidly among picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, and nonfiction of all kinds.
Harry Potter was the start of the trouble. My oldest discovered Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when she was in fourth grade and her youngest sister was just learning to walk. The books quickly became favorites that we passed around and discussed at dinner. We invented yard Quidditch for birthday parties and knitted hats for the house-elf rebellion. By the time the long-awaited final book was announced seven years later, my youngest, Madelaine, was dying to get in on the game, and being read to was not good enough. She wanted to read the last book for herself. Furthermore, she decided to read all six of the previous books in her second-grade year before the last book came out in the summer. I was all for the project, excited to see her so motivated, proud that she was reading independently — and yet, there were problems I didn’t foresee.
A five-pound book doesn’t fit the standard second-grader backpack, and it’s a lot to carry when you only weigh forty pounds. Madelaine enjoyed each book and loved being up to speed on all the characters her siblings had been talking about her whole life. Still, it took her so long to read them, as a new reader, that much of the momentum of the stories were lost in the work of decoding, so she never found them as exciting as the older kids had. Because the characters were many years older than she was and often focused on things that didn’t interest her, she never made an emotional connection with them, either. But she was keeping up with the big kids, and that was all she wanted.
On the midnight of the final Harry Potter release, all six of us went to our neighborhood indie, Annie Bloom’s, for the party. The kids were eight, eleven, fourteen, and sixteen. We bought one book and six bookmarks. We made the usual bargain about not talking about what happens until everyone’s bookmark passed that chapter — a good incentive for not hogging the book. It was a magical week that July when we all shared our long-awaited Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!
And yet I found my own enjoyment of the book lessened because Deathly Hallows was such a dark story—not inappropriately dark, but grim reading for a child who had just lost her first tooth. From my tree-house office that week I watched Madelaine as she read aloud to our chickens. Periodically, she would slam the book shut and say to them, in complete earnestness, “This is one of the awful parts. I’m not going to read it to you. You’re only four months old. Maybe later — when you are big enough to lay eggs.” And then she would go curl up with her big brother in the hammock and work her way through the “awful part.” She managed. We all did, and, as with all the other books, there was yard Quidditch to play and inside jokes to tell and lots of meaty topics to discuss. My youngest did not suffer nightmares, as I had feared. But I did find some unanticipated consequences to letting her read up.
Not surprisingly, it took Madelaine the entire school year to read the first six Harry Potter books, which meant she read no picture books in second grade. Many of the really great picture books are for school-aged children. Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base, and The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse were favorites of my older children. She also missed out on Encyclopedia Brown and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and My Father’s Dragon. The first Clementine book by Sara Pennypacker came out that year, and I was longing to have someone just the right age with whom to share it. But it’s not so easy to go back to simpler books when you’ve spent a year filling up on richer fare. Madelaine’s reading improved tremendously in terms of both speed and comprehension, and of all the benefits of reading up, that’s by far the most immediately valuable. And yet I’m sorry to see that the classic characters from longer picture books and early chapter books are not part of the architecture of her imagination in the way they are for me and for her older siblings.
Now that my oldest two are in college and the younger girls are in middle- and high school, I’ve been rethinking my laissez-faire approach to reading up. For instance, my younger two often find YA books a little bit stale. John Green, whom they used to love when they were in grade school, seems a little silly to them now. And that’s a shame. It’s not that the books are lacking in any way. But as precocious readers, they took only a shallow spoonful of what was available in the text. If they were of a temperament to reread favorite books, they might have come to appreciate his work more fully in time. But they chose to move on, remembering the fun of their shared jokes from An Abundance of Katherines but not the substance they glossed over at the time.
There’s a lot of really great YA writing that my girls won’t touch because it seems too young. The writing is right on target for them developmentally, but because they’ve already read extensively in the genre, it simply doesn’t appeal to them in the way I’d hoped it would. In the last few years they have gravitated toward genres they didn’t read in grade school: steampunk, graphic novels, and fan fiction. Overall, though, they spend less time reading than their older siblings did.
Reading up is not as simple an issue as I’d once supposed. I’ve noticed a tendency among people in the book professions to scorn parents who advocate withholding older books from younger readers, painting them as rigid, conservative, and insensitive to the needs of the child. I thought so myself at the start, but now I have some sympathy for the longer view of trying to nurture a lifelong reader and not just a temporarily precocious one.
I’m happy to report that my younger girls do find YA books they like from time to time. They discovered Terry Pratchett at exactly the right moment and are avid fans. Fortunately, their older brother and sister remember the fun of shared reading enough to give The Wee Free Men a try, even though it’s “too young” for them. Now when everyone is home from college and they’re all making dinner together, they are full of inside jokes from the Discworld and have loud arguments in Nac Mac Feegle about whether the recipe calls for Special Sheep Liniment!
I have always thought that the social dimension of reading gets the short end of the stick in our current educational climate, one that puts so much emphasis on measurable results. In my opinion, the conversations that occur because of the book are far more valuable than anything on the page. So do I regret letting my younger two read YA books so early? No, not exactly; but I do recognize that they lost something in their childhood reading that I cannot now replace. It’s true that Madelaine, in a moment of rainy-day boredom, recently picked up Clementine and gave it a read, trumpeting the funny bits out loud as my kids often do. Those funny bits were still pretty funny, even from the lofty view of sixth grade. Clementine could have been a literary soul mate to my quirky and keenly observant girl. But that ship sailed years ago during her Harry Potter summer, and she and Clementine will be only passing acquaintances.
On the other hand, my kids feel a deep and lasting camaraderie over their shared reading, even as school and college and adult life pull them in different directions. They have grown apart in their talents and aspirations. They have their own circles of friends and will probably never all live in the same town again. And yet I do hope that the stories they loved together will be their common ground, just as Narnia and Earthsea and Middle-earth are the childhood homes my own siblings and I continue to share.
From the November/December 2012 Horn Book Magazine

The Doll People

Passed down from one generation to the next, the Doll family has lived in the same dollhouse, located in the same room of the Palmer family's house, for 100 years. While the world outside has changed, their own lives have notDwith two significant exceptions. First, Auntie Sarah Doll suddenly and mysteriously disappeared 45 years ago, when the Doll family belonged to Kate Palmer's grandmother. More recently, the modern, plastic Funcraft family has moved into Kate's little sister's room. Following the time-honored traditions of such well-loved works as Rumer Godden's The Doll's House, The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh and Pam Conrad's and Richard Egielski's The Tub People, Martin and Godwin inventively spin out their own variation on the perennially popular theme of toys who secretly come to life. By focusing on Annabelle's and Tiffany Funcraft's risky mission to find Auntie Sarah, the authors provide plenty of action and suspense, yet it is their skillfully crafted details about the dolls' personalities and daily routines that prove most memorable. Selznick's pencil illustrations cleverly capture the spark of life inhabiting the dolls' seemingly inanimate bodies. The contemporary draftsmanship frees the art from nostalgia even while the layout which presents the illustrations as standalone compositions as well as imaginatively integrated borders and vignettes reinforces the old-fashioned mood of the doll theme. Doll lovers may well approach their imaginative play with renewed enthusiasm and a sense of wonder after reading this fun-filled adventure. Ages 7-10.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

t From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. It was exciting when the 100-year-old, dollhouse-dwelling Doll Family met the modern, "real pink plastic" Funcrafts in The Doll People (2000), a thoroughly charming exploration of the fantasy that dolls are secretly alive. In this action-packed sequel, things heat up even further after Annabelle Doll and her best friend Tiffany Funcraft dive into the human girl's backpack and get hauled off to school. They end up in the wrong kid's backpack and in the home of the meanest doll in the world! Will they bravely take on Mean Mimi, who is determined to expose the sacred secret of dollkind? And, how will they get home? Selznick's pencil drawings are winningly expressive, and the clever title-page progression, spelling out "The Meanest Doll in the World" in several pages, is not to be missed. There are inspiring moments of fortitude here as the dolls show readers how to live with integrity and without fear. Though the authors provide background info, readers will want to start with the first novel. Karin Snelson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From School Library Journal

Grade 3–5—A mysterious package addressed to Grandma Palmer's grandfather arrives at the Palmer home while they are on vacation. Kate's doll, Annabelle, and her sister's doll, Tiffany Funcraft, deduce that the package contains the Doll family's missing baby. They open the package to find that Matilda is indeed Annabelle's lost sister. But how do they keep the family from sending her back? Since the package is not addressed to the Palmers, they might not open it, and the baby will be lost forever. Annabelle decides the only solution is to run away with her new sibling to save her from this fate. Annabelle, her brother Bobby, Tiffany, and her brother Bailey join the adventure and find themselves lost in the woods and then trapped in a toy store. The adventure takes a dangerous and mysterious turn when dolls begin to disappear from the store each night. The story opens with Selznick's 12-page illustrated, wordless prologue, and his art moves the story along throughout the book. This fun, magical entry in the series is just as engaging as the previous books.—Debra Banna, Sharon Public Library, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

A Halloween favorite from Susan Meddaugh!

From Publishers Weekly

In a highly original Halloween tale, Meddaugh ( Tree of Birds ; Too Many Monsters ) again evinces a gently humorous, delightfully skewed imagination. As Helen, in a witch costume, and her dog Martha, dressed as a cat ("Witches have cats, not dogs. Everybody knows that") set out for trick-or-treating, the woman ahead of them drops a piece of paper. Hurrying after her to return it--a coupon for a free broom--Helen and Martha hesitate when she disappears behind a door marked "Trespassers Will Be Sorry." Peeking inside, Helen announces, "It's just a supermarket!" and the pair ventures in. But this is no ordinary food store--its counters display such fare as"Apples with Worms," "Cran-Spider" drink and "Shake 'n Bake Snake." When the light finally dawns for Helen, readers, of course, will be way ahead of her--thanks not only to the book's title but to its hilarious, none-too-subtle illustrations. This knowledge only adds to the fun, however: the giggles begin early, and by the chaotic escape scene, develop into full-scale belly laughs. Definitely in the "treat" category. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

hello! hello! book trailer

Friday, October 19, 2012

What we're reading (and loving) right now...

Click to order from Amazon.com 
 From Cynthia Lord's website :   


If the bathroom door is closed, knock! (especially if Catherine has a friend over).

Say thank you when someone gives you a present (even if you don't like it).

Don't stand in front of the TV when other people are watching it.

A boy takes off his shirt to swim, but not his shorts.

Some people think they know who you are, when really they don't.

No toys in the fishtank.
Available in audio from Audible.com
Winner of:
Newbery Honor Medal
Schneider Family Book Award
Mitten Award (Michigan Library Association)
Great Lakes Great Books Award (Michigan)
Maine Student Book Award
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award (Vermont)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award
Great Stone Face Award (New Hampshire)
Buckeye Children's Book Award (Ohio)

“A heartwarming first novel.” Booklist

New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

“Catherine is an appealing and believable character, acutely self-conscious and torn between her love for her brother and her resentment of his special needs. Middle-grade readers will recognize her longing for acceptance and be intrigued by this exploration of dealing with differences.” Kirkus Reviews

KidPost Book of the Week, Washington Post

"The appealing, credible narrator at the heart of Lord's debut novel will draw in readers, as she struggles to find order and balance in her life.... A rewarding story that may well inspire readers to think about others' points of view." Publishers Weekly

Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts (NCTE)

"This is a story that depicts the impact of a needy child on an entire family very realistically. One of the treats in this book is that David echoes words rather than generating his own and he frequently speaks in lines he remembers from Arnold Lobel's Frog & Toad." Children's Literature - Joan Kindig, Ph.D.

Book of the Week, Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)

"Catherine is an endearing narrator who tells her story with both humor and heartbreak. . . this sensitive story is about being different, feeling different, and finding acceptance. A lovely, warm read, and a great discussion starter." School Library Journal

 Editors' Pick, HW Wilson Standard Catalog

"This is an absorbing tale about valuing people even when it's difficult, and it may encourage readers to consider the benefits and challenges of their own families and friends." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Accelerated Reader (AR) Title

"This is not only a great read, with a nice rhythm and easy style, but it is an important book that siblings of kids with special needs need to read." Kid Lit: Books and More For Kids and Teens

ALA Notable Children's Book

"The first-person narrative is very engaging, and readers will identify with Catherine's struggles and cheer for her at the end. This is a great book to help students gain some understanding about autism, while also providing a good read. The author is the mother of an autistic child. Recommended." Library Media Connection

Read On Wisconsin, Middle-School Pick

"[A]n honest and frequently funny portrayal of what it's like to have a sibling with autism at an age when being accepted is so important." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Nominated for state Kids' Choice Awards in: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pacific Northwest (voting together: Alaska, Alberta CA, British Columbia CA, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

In 2000, I decided to write a middle-grade novel, and I followed the advice of "write what you know."  I have two children, one of whom has autism, and RULES explores that family dynamic.
David is based loosely upon my son when he was a young child.  Some incidents in the book came from real experience:  I was always rescuing toys from our fishtank and my son did love Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books and used to repeat lines from those stories to communicate.  However, most of the events, details, and characters in RULES came from my imagination. 
Jason was inspired by a boy I saw one day and have never forgotten.  I was waiting for my son to finish an appointment, and a boy came into the waiting room.  He was in a wheelchair and used a communication book.  I glanced up and made assumptions that were blown apart seconds later, when he and his mother had the most amazing and witty conversation.  She spoke out loud; he communicated by touching his pictures. 
All those threads of experience began weaving themselves into a story.  The first line I ever wrote on the first blank page was:  “At our house, we have a rule,” and the story, the characters, the title, all sprang from that seed.
I took the story as far as I could, and after many polishing passes and feedback from my critique partners, I looked through the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market to see who might be a good publishing match. 
I paused at Scholastic’s entry.  When I was growing up, my teacher would hand out Scholastic Book Clubs fliers, and my mother let me order 3 books each time.  I remember the excitement I felt: the coins rolling back and forth in the envelope as I walked up to hand it to the teacher, and those glassy-smooth covers and the crackling newness of the books when they came.  I still have some of the books I bought as a child through those book clubs, with my name written in big, loopy handwriting on the inside cover. 
But the line “1% of books by first-time authors” in the market book for Scholastic, was daunting.  My husband shrugged when I showed him and said, “Well, someone has to be that one percent, why not you?”
In November 2001, I got the phone call every writer dreams of receiving.  It was an editor at Scholastic saying she’d like to buy my book.  I was too excited to remember much about that call, but I think I said mostly intelligent things like, “Oh, um, wow! Yes, uh, OK.” 
Getting the call may sound like “The end,” but that was also a beginning, a corner-turning to a new hallway.  The revision process is a time of refining, of letting go and holding on, of re-imagining characters and events to bring them into sharper focus. 
It’s been a long road from that first “At our house, we have a rule” to this moment, but it’s also been a glorious discovery, a journey I am both humbled and amazed to have taken.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Babymouse for President!

A Cupcake in every locker! It's election season and if anyone knows what this country . . . er, what the student council needs, it's Babymouse. The only trouble is, everyone else is running for President, too—even Babymouse's locker! Will Felicia Furrypaws turn out the meangirl coalition? Does Babymouse have what it takes to become the voice of the people? Find out in Babymouse for President! Remember, a vote for Babymouse is a vote for cupcakes!


Babymouse for President! Santiago Campaign Ad

City Chickens by Christine Heppermann

Chickens in the yard, chickens in the shower. Chickens upstairs and downstairs, in the kitchen and under the couch. What are farm animals doing in the city?

In Minneapolis, if you follow the sounds of crowing, you will find an inner-city shelter for (you guessed it!) chickens. Many of the feathered guests at Chicken Run Rescue have been found wandering the city streets. Maybe they escaped from backyard chicken coops or from illegal cockfighting rings, or maybe they began their lives as fuzzy chicks in a classroom incubator. Whatever the reason, these incredibly smart, gentle, and friendly animals need help.

Over the years, Mary Britton Clouse and her husband, Bert, have given hundreds of homeless birds a safe place to rest until they can be adopted by caring families. Come along and meet Yeti, Henrietta, and other guests, and find out why lovable chickens are actually “the ones who need friends the most.”

Author Christine Heppermann

City Chickens

There are so many reasons to tell you about this new book City Chickens (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Christine Heppermann:

1. It's non-fiction (one of the main topics of this blog)--the story of a woman who lives in Minneapolis and runs a shelter for abandoned, lost-- or found-- chickens. And this story makes us glad that our wondrous world does contain at least one person who wants to give chickens a safe, comfortable home.

2. It's about chickens. I love chickens, real and invented.  Fictional chickens are the utility infielders of the children's book world. They show up in all sorts of situations (even in my Chicken Joy on Redbean Road --illustrated by the super Melissa Sweet; Houghton Mifflin, 2007).

3. Christine loves chickens, too. And she is a very talented writer, who writes essays and reviews for the Horn Book, and  has published a number of poems. I should also add she is a former student and a good friend. But I would tell you about this book if I had never met Christine because it is a wonderful non-fiction story, carefully researched, well-told, with striking photographs by Chris's husband, Eric Hinsdale.

I want Christine to tell you about the book. So I asked her some questions.

1.       JBM: What attracted you to this story?
CH: I’m always drawn to stories about people with uncommon passions or perceptions. Also to stories that show me something ordinary in an entirely new way. Most of us view chickens as commodities, valuable for what they give us—their meat and their eggs. But why shouldn’t we see them the way Mary and Bert at Chicken Run Rescue do—as living beings deserving of the same level of care and compassion that we give to dogs and cats? Truthfully, Jackie, your Snowflake Bentley stayed in my mind the whole time I was writing and researching City Chickens, because Wilson Bentley and Mary and Bert have a lot in common.  Bentley took an amorphous mass of white stuff and showed us the beauty of each individual flake. Mary and Bert want people to recognize the beauty and uniqueness of each individual bird.
2      JBM:  Why tell this as nonfiction instead of fiction?

CH: You know, the real-life characters are so compelling, I never once considered fictionalizing them. I love the challenge of taking actual people and events and trying to be true to them while at the same time constructing a narrative with all the literary qualities of fiction. At one point I worried because I didn’t have any child characters in the story, but then I found an actual child, Alison! (She and her family have adopted multiple birds from CRR.) And Alison had an actual rooster, Billiam, with more personality quirks than any character I could possibly have made up.
3       JBM: What was one of the really hard parts of writing this story?
CH: Choosing which chickens to feature. Because most every “guest” I met at Chicken Run Rescue had such a fascinating backstory.  Originally I started the book with Gody, a little black hen who, for a time, lived in a St. Paul, Minnesota elementary school science classroom. The teacher acquired Gody after a friend-of-a-friend, a woman in Minneapolis, heard a cat yowling in her driveway.  She went out to investigate and found Gody, panicked and shivering, hiding in a corner of her garage! But Gody had already come through Chicken Run Rescue and been adopted out to a family by the time I started my research, and there weren’t any good photos from her days in the classroom. Sadly, I had to deny her a starring role.
.          JBM: How does your interest in poetry show up in City Chickens?
CH:  Certainly I chose words carefully and paid attention to the rhythm of the language, just as I do when I’m writing a poem. But more than that, I believe Mary and Bert are doing exactly what the best poets do: they are allowing us to see something through fresh eyes. They are saying, look at these creatures you’ve always taken for granted, aren’t they extraordinary? 
Thanks, Christine.  I think this book will change the way we see chickens. It will be much harder to think of chickens as "egg factories" after reading about Chicken Run Rescue.  We will see more.  And isn't that one thing we are about--helping each other to see...more.