I may say this every year, but it always seems true: It has been a good year for children’s books. As usual, I am more excited about the Youth Media Awards announcement on Monday than I am about the Academy Awards or the Grammy’s or any other honor. Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, etc. These are the awards that matter in my world.
There are so many great picture books this year, but there are two, in particular, that I really want to be honored in some way on Monday. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson, which I blogged about here, is a personal favorite. It’s a quiet story, but full of warmth. Dream Drum Girl by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López is a book for dreamers of any age. I am rooting for both of these to pick up a Caldecott Medal or Honor. But I realize that the competition is tough.
The Newbery is a harder to predict for me as I haven’t been able to read as many of the eligible titles this year. Of what I have read, three stand out: Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan, The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, and The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I think all three of these might make you cry a little, if you’re like me anyway, but they all offer a bit of hope too. No matter how the awards shake out on Monday, I hope you’ll read them and share them.
I’ll decline to mention any Printz hopefuls due to potential overlap with the Walter Award (my service on the Walter Award committee means that my opinions on these books are confidential), but I am looking forward to returning to my usual endless chatter about teen fiction in 2016. Stay tuned! ;)
It had been a few years since I had been to the Twin Cities Book Festival. Once it moved to St. Paul, I let the distance (and my non-driving status) keep me home. This year, I’m back behind the wheel of a car, so I thought I’d check out what I’d been missing.
I found a bigger and better book festival in the new location with something to interest book lovers of all ages. I brought my six-year-old daughter, so we spent most of our time in the Children’s Pavilion. From the moment we arrived, we were swept into the fun. It started with meeting Bad Kitty, playing Moo! the game, and playing Legos. From there it was one story, performance, or science demo after another.
The highlight for me was Lauren Stringer. I have loved her illustrations for a long time, and a book she wrote and illustrated, Winter is the Warmest Season, is one of my favorite winter picture books. Her latest book is Deer Dancer written by Mary Lyn Ray, and she turned the reading into a performance with a ballerina as the deer. It really brought the book alive, and the kids in the audience loved to see the dancer up close. Stringer also shared a bit about her illustration process by showing the journal/sketchbook she created as she worked on the book. I loved that she advised readers to take note of the end pages. They are there to set the mood of the book, she said. In Deer Dancer the end pages should give you the sense of entering the forest.
If I had to guess, I think my daughter would say her highlight was the Kitchen Pantry Science Lab. I mean, there was a paper bag volcano, cornstarch goblin goo, and several other really cool experiments. It was messy and full of surprises for the kids. What more could you ask for? Well, the book, I suppose. My daughter declared we just had to buy the Kitchen Science Lab for Kids. We can’t wait to get a copy and try some of the experiments at home.
I could go on. It was a great day, full of great bookish fun. You can see some of my pictures on my photo blog, but I highly recommend that you make sure to attend next year. I know I will.
I’m sticking with the theme from my last post and my new zine, Whereverland, for today’s Thursday Three post. I have three books in which moving and/or exploring one’s roots plays a role.
- The Language Inside by Holly Thompson – Emma spent most of her life as an American living in Japan–that’s home. Now she’s back in the States re-orienting to the place her parents have always thought of as “home.” Really beautiful teen novel in verse that explores connecting with people, places, and poetry. Teacher/Librarian note: There’s a discussion guide here. (Teen Fiction – Find it at your library or indie bookstore)
- Little Fish by Ramsey Beyer – Ramsey Beyer captures her first year at art school in this graphic memoir. She’s a blogger, zinester, and an artist, so I was obviously a little biased toward liking this book even before I started reading. It’s a more innocent look at college–no parties or hangovers here–than you might find in other books, and Beyer’s sincerity and sweetness make this a cute coming of age book that zinesters and other creative sorts will enjoy. (Teen/Adult Memoir – Find it at your library or indie bookstore)
- Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan – This is an oldie, but it is not to be missed. When Naomi’s mom returns and wants custody of Naomi (and not her brother who has a birth defect), Naomi explores her father’s side with a trip to Mexico. That one sentence description hardly does the book justice. It is a thoughtful look at identity and family. A long-time favorite of mine. (Children’s Fiction – Find it at your library or indie bookstore)
Have you read anything that fits this theme? What would you add?
My little artist made her hand-shaped turkey last weekend. I tried to emphasize a feeling of gratitude this Thanksgiving with the book All of Me: A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang. It says,
“What great hands!
Thank you, hands.
and patting and holding.
And for hugging.”
Also, thanks for being turkey-shaped. :)