“Because of Them, We Can …”
Celebrating African American History Month
Our nation’s celebration of black history was expanded to a full month in 1976, the year of our nation’s bicentennial. At President Gerald R. Ford’s urging, Americans were encouraged to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” In February, 1976, fifty years after the first black history celebration, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History held the first African American History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of African American history in the drama of the American story. Each year, many children’s books that focus on African American history are published. February is the perfect time to introduce those titles!
New Picture Books
The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial by Susan E. Goodman, illus. by E.B. Lewis
In 1847 four year old Sarah Roberts was removed from her all white school in Boston and told she could not return. Her parents fought back, and though they lost the case in court, their actions set in motion the events which led to Boston voluntarily integrating its schools in 1855. Lewis’s illustrations effectively capture the historical era and mood of the times.
Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by R. Gregory Christie
Slaves in New Orleans, Louisiana were allowed to congregate on Sundays in Congo Square to make music, sing and dance. The poetic text and folk-art style illustrations combine to pay homage to this bit of African American history.
Freedom over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan
Bryan uses historical slave documents from the 1820’s […]
The Youth Media Awards took place on January 23, 2017 at 8 am in Atlanta, Georgia at the American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting. Every year the ALA honors books, videos and other outstanding materials for children and teens. Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, the ALA Youth Media Awards, including the prestigious Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpré, and Printz Awards, guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Awarded annually, these awards are the highest honor for the winners. Winning one of these awards generally ensures that a book will remain available at libraries and bookstores for years to come, and that it will be read by vast numbers of children. To children’s and young adult librarians, the YMAs are like the Oscars of children’s and YA literature. As two seasoned children’s librarians and children’s literature enthusiasts, we anxiously await this awards presentation each and every January. Throughout the previous year we’ve read the new books, compiled our own lists of contenders, and even held and attended mock award discussions and celebrations.
And now for the results:
Perhaps the most prestigious of all the awards is the Caldecott Medal and the Newbery Medal. Both are the oldest of all the awards, dating back to 1938 and 1922 respectively. The Caldecott Medal is given to the artist or illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children. It is named after nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. The Newbery Medal, named after the eighteenth-century English bookseller John Newbery, is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Honor books or runners-up, if you will, are given distinction as well. The Caldecott Awards […]
“The Weather Outside is Frightful …”
… but reading is so delightful!
A Wynk, a Blynk and a Nod to Books about Snow
The first book that always comes to mind when we think of winter is the classic story of The Snowy Day, written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats. This 1963 Caldecott Award winner was groundbreaking as it showcased an African-American child as the central character. Recently published, A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of THE SNOWY DAY, pays homage to this children’s classic. Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson, the story of Keats and his infamous little boy in the red snowsuit are brought to life through lyrical text and acrylic, collage, and pencil illustrations.
New Picture Books
Andy & Sandy and the First Snow by Tomie dePaola and Jim Lewis, illus. by Tomie dePaola
Tomie dePaola is a Caldecott and Newbery Honor winning author and illustrator. Lewis is an Emmy Award winning writer for The Muppets. They have collaborated on this new easy reader series about friendship. In this episode, Sandy wants to play outside in the snow, but Andy is not so sure. This book is perfect for those just beginning to read on their own.
Bears in the Snow by Shirley Parenteau, illus. by David Walker
Big Brown Bear comes up with a fun solution when his four little bear cubs can’t all fit on the sled. The soft illustrations and lyrical text make for a fun read-aloud.
Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre
This prolific writer of non-fiction has created another visually stunning work. The wintery world of snow, ice, and frost is depicted through amazing photographs and simple verse.
Before Morning by […]
A Wynk, a Blynk and a Nod to Books about December Holidays
While reviewing the new holiday titles, we were pleased to find this reissue of The Christmas Crocodile. The story was originally published in 1998 and was met with rave reviews. It has been rediscovered and reissued for a new generation of children to enjoy. It has been reissued as part of the Book Crush Rediscoveries series which is devoted to reprinting some of the best, and sometimes out-of-print, children’s and young adult titles originally published from 1930 to today. Each book is personally selected by noted librarian and literary critic Nancy Pearl. Each book also includes an introduction written by Pearl. In this story, a young girl finds a hungry crocodile underneath the Christmas tree and soon finds out that he can’t stop himself from eating everything that he encounters. The humorous illustrations complement the text and make this book a perfect choice for young children. We hope that you will enjoy it as much as we do. And, there are many more holiday titles that we have selected for you. Season’s Readings!
Print out this list of books
New Picture Books
The Christmas Boot by Lisa Wheeler, illus. by Jerry Pinkney
An old woman’s life is changed when she finds what seems to be a magical boot in the forest near her home. The story is beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Award winning artist, Jerry Pinkney.
Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Anna Dewdney
This story was first published in 1952, reissued again in 2004, and now reissued once again with artwork by the late Anna Dewdney of Llama Llama Red Pajama fame. The simple, rhyming text tells the story of the nativity and pairs […]
“Goodbye Summer … Hello Autumn”
This is the perfect book to introduce our next blog entry on new books about fall – the season and the holidays that come with it … so perfect, in fact, that we even stole the title! This stunning picture book by Kenard Pak follows a young girl as she converses with nature and greets all the signs of the coming of fall. The gorgeous watercolor and pencil illustrations, all done in double-page spreads, evoke that childlike sense of wonder at the changing of the seasons. This one is not to be missed. Enjoy all of our selections … and enjoy the season!
New Books for Younger Readers
Amazing Autumn by Jennifer Marino Walters, illus. by John Nez
This picture book introduces the reader to autumn and also includes the concepts of colors, shapes, and sizes. The text engages the reader by asking questions and encouraging participation.
The Autumn Visitors by Karel Hayes
This is the fourth and final book in Hayes’ Visitor series. The bear family experiences autumn in New England in this nearly wordless picture book accompanied by pen and ink and watercolor illustrations.
Bella’s Fall Coat by Lynn Plourde, illus. by Susan Gal
This is a beautiful story about the fall season and a little girl who has outgrown her favorite coat made by her grandmother. Bella, however, must learn to deal with this change. The collage illustrations are visually appealing and convey the sense of autumn.
Birdie’s Happiest Halloween by Sujean Rim
Birdie loves everything about autumn and especially Halloween, though this year she’s having trouble deciding what to be. A trip to the museum provides inspiration! The ending is surprising but fitting, especially considering this year’s political climate. The childlike illustrations suit the fall […]
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin ; illustrated by Betsy Lewin
From the duo that brought us Click, Clack, Moo, Farmer Brown’s Duck pursues the highest office in the land.
President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett ; illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
This is a fictionalized account of President William Howard Taft, a man of great stature, who according to some got stuck in his bath on his inauguration day. Others say it happened later in his term, while many say Taft never got stuck at all. Nevertheless, this is a fun read about our 27th president!
Lillian’s right to vote : a celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter
A 50th anniversary tribute to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 finds an elderly woman reflecting on her family’s history, from the passage of the 15th Amendment through her participation in the protest march from Selma to Montgomery.
Of Thee I Sing : a Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama ; illustrated by Loren Long
Illustrated by local artist, Loren Long, this book is a tribute to thirteen great Americans and their achievements, including the patriotism of George Washington, the courage of Jackie Robinson, and the strength of Helen Keller. This is a very moving book with stunning illustrations.
My Name Is James Madison Hemings by Jonah Winter
This historical picture book about the life of the child of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, brings to light the many contradictions in Jefferson s life and legacy.
Have a Mice Flight! Lindsey Leavitt ; illustrated by Ag Ford
This is the third book in the Commander in Cheese chapter book series about Ava and Dean Squeakerton and the rest of their mice family who live […]
“Back to School”
A Wynk, a Blynk and a Nod to Books about Back to School for Younger Children
Move over summer, a new school year is coming!
It’s that time of year again … time for new school supplies, uniforms, backpacks and more. Some kids are probably feeling excited, while others are a little sad that summer is coming to an end. Others may feel nervous or even a little scared. New teachers, new friends, maybe even a new school are worrisome. But we all know that these new worries will only stick around for a little while.
We’ve selected several new books, for both younger and older readers, to help with the excitement and concern that a new school year brings.
New Books for Young Readers
Bear’s Big Day by Salina Yoon
This is the third book in Yoon’s Bear and Bunny series. Together, these two face a brand new experience – going to school for the first time. The illustrations are adorable right down to the endpapers, which feature a variety of animal themed backpacks!
Charlie Chick Goes to School by Nick Denchfield, illus. by Ant Parker
This cute pop-up book follows Charlie on his first day of school.
Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins
This is the story of a young boy, Frank, and his newly adopted dog, Lucky. They both go to school, Lucky “ten times” and Frank “thousands of times”. Through their relationship with one another and with the world around them, the author is able to introduce school subjects through imagined scenarios between the two of them. This is a very interesting take on the subject, and the watercolor illustrations vary throughout the story, from full-color paintings to small vignettes.
If an Elephant Went to School […]
A Wynk, a Blynk and a Nod to Books about Fathers and Father’s Day
“Dad, Daddy, Pa or Pop …”
No matter what you call him, June is the month in which we celebrate our fathers and fatherhood. Believe it or not, Father’s Day wasn’t made an official holiday until 1972 even though celebrations of fathers date back to the early 1900’s. Its origins may lie in a memorial service held for a large group of men, many of them fathers, who were killed in a mining accident in Monongah, West Virginia in 1907. And in 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington began her campaign for a national Father’s Day after having heard a Mother’s Day sermon at church. Many events honoring fathers were held in the years that followed, but it took a struggle of over five decades for its designation as a national holiday to become a reality. Finally, in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.
All the Little Fathers by Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Marilyn Faucher
All the animal fathers are looking after their children in this newly illustrated version written by the author of the classic Goodnight Moon.
Beard in a Box by Bill Cotter
A little boy believes that his dad’s beard is what makes him so awesome. In an effort to be “just like dad,” he orders a beard growing kit and in the end learns a valuable lesson. The humorous illustrations and captions add to the story’s appeal.
Because I’m Your Dad by Ahmet […]
A Wynk, a Blynk, and a Nod to Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month is celebrated annually each year in March. As many new books have recently been published recounting the accomplishments of women, we’d like to share some of those with you. Some names will be familiar while others may be unknown. Enjoy learning about women’s history!
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark, illus. by April Chu
Ada Byron Lovelace is considered by many to be the inventor of computer programming. The daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron, she was fascinated by numbers and mathematics as a child. She became a mathematical genius and after meeting Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, she wrote the algorithm, or instructions, that became the world’s first computer program.
Amelia Earhart by Emma E. Haldy, illus. by Jeff Bane
This biography of the infamous aviator is part of the My Itty-Bitty Bio series aimed at the earliest of readers. The books in this series are written in the first person and include photos and illustrations to keep the reader’s attention. Sentences and vocabulary are simple and familiar.
The Cambodian Dancer: Sophany’s Gift of Hope by Daryn Reicherter, illus. by Christy Hale
This work was inspired by the true story of Sophany Bay, a Cambodian dancer, who was forced to flee her homeland when the Khmer Rouge came into power. She became a refugee to the United States. In her new life here she found ways to help heal the Cambodian community in the U.S. In an effort to keep her culture alive, she created a program for teaching Cambodian dance to the children of this community.
Coretta Scott King by Kathleen Krull, illus. by Laura Freeman
This book […]
“The Power of a Dream”
A Wynk, a Blynk, and a Nod to African American History Books
African American History Month, or Black History Month, as it is often referred to, is observed every February in the United States. There are so many wonderful books that were published this past year. Narrowing down our list has been difficult at best.
Just a few weeks ago, the American Library Association announced all of the children’s literature awards for 2015. Several of the books that we decided to feature for African American History Month are among those awards:
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson
This book actually won several accolades, including a Caldecott Honor (the Caldecott Award is given for illustration), a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, and perhaps the most coveted award of all, the Newbery Award, which is awarded to the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature for the year. This is also the first time that a Latino author has won the Newbery Award. The idea of a picture book winning the Newbery medal has caused quite a lot of discussion in the library world, but, it has actually happened a few times in the past. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard, illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen won the Newbery medal in 1982. It was also named a Caldecott Honor book that same year. Newbery Honors have also gone to Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman (2011), Doctor De Soto by William Steig (1983), and Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats (1929). In Last Stop, a young African American boy learns about the beauty of urban life while riding the bus across […]