Author Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano and illustrator Michael Carroll justly received multiple accolades and awards for their nonfiction picture book A Hole Is Not a Hole :
•ALA Notable 2013 •Junior Library Guild 2012 Selection • One of Kirkus Reviews’ 100 Best Children’s Books of 2012, A School Library Journal Best Book 2012, Recommended Designation, NCTE Orbis Pictus Committee, 2013, A “Best of the Best” Book, Chicago Public Library 2012, A Los Angeles Public Library Best of 2012 Children’s Book, One of 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing (Children’s Books), NY Public Library, Recommended by the National Science Teachers Association
Have you ever wondered what a black hole really is? Delve into this clearly written, beautifully illustrated explanation of a complex scientific concept, complete with touches of humor, and you’ll find out. Publisher Charlesbridge recommends this book for ages 9-12. I would add that older students and adults will appreciate this book also, finding much to learn and ponder.
Lane Fredrickson, author of the 2012 picture book Watch Your Tongue, Cecily Beasley, has created a terrific website for anyone who wants to learn about rhyme and meter, or wishes to teach it to students. The information is presented in a clear, easy-to-understand way, step-by-step. Each concept is accompanied by examples and delightful illustrations. As Ms. Fredrickson says, www.RhymeWeaver.com is not a blog, so the lessons will be there each time you go back. I’m working my way through the whole site, learning as I go. I’ve never found such a well-organized, fun, and helpful resource for mastering the art of telling a story in verse, and for writing poetry. Another valuable feature is the analysis of “one excellent picture book” each month, so we can see the techniques we’ve learned about executed in a great story. Writers and teachers, take note!
Thank you Ms. Fredrickson for creating RhymeWeaver!
Martin de Porres: the Rose in the Desert, by Gary D. Schmidt , illustrated by David Diaz, brought me back to a favorite personage I learned about in my childhood. David Diaz won the Pura Belpré 2013 Illustrator Award
for his “luminous mixed-media illustrations (which) complement and expand the story. Diaz expertly uses color, perspective and contrast to portray Martín’s gentle spirit and miraculous abilities. The committee was impressed with Diaz’s ‘ability to capture and expand Schmidt’s text, while including references to traditional South American artisan crafts, word carvings and textiles’ . . . “
Martin, born to a Spanish nobleman and a former slave, grew up in crushing poverty. Refused acceptance into the priesthood because he was illegitimate, he was taken into the monastery as a servant. Soon, he began healing animals and people. Martin continued to serve in the church, and was finally received into the Dominican Order. After he died in 1639, Martin was declared a saint (in 1962). The book portrays both fact and legend.
Sy Montgomery , a renowned author and naturalist, has written many books for children and adults. Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot is a beautiful, amazing account of the extraordinary efforts people from all over the world are going to in order to save this incredible bird from extinction.
Kakapo Rescue won the Robert F. Sibert Medal for the most distinguished nonfiction children’s book of 2010. It was also a finalist for the American Association for the Advance of Science’s 2011 Science “Books and Films Prizes” for Excellence in Science Books, was the Kirkus Best Book of the Year 2010, and a Junior Library Guild Selection.
The author and the photographer, Nic Bishop, went to Codfish Island, off the southern tip of New Zealand. They lived with, and followed, scientists and volunteers who work to protect these beautiful, honey-scented, very large parrots who are unable to fly or defend themselves. The text is accessible for readers young and old. The photography is stunning. (Be sure to click on the link to Nic’s website.) This is a book to read, treasure, and share with your friends!
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini is an absolutely gorgeous picture book. It’s an American Library Association 2013 Notable Book for Younger Readers. Congratulations to the author and illustrator!
Each turn of the page brings us to a color and introduces us to something of significance in the life of a Muslim child, her family, and their traditions. “Blue is the hijab / Mom likes to wear. / It’s a scarf she uses to cover her hair.” “Purple is an Eid gift / just for me. / I open it up / and love what I see.” It feels as though the child leads us by the hand as we enter her world. There is a glossary at the end of the book to explain words that are new to the reader. Even the font is lovely and adds to the gentle flow of the words. I absolutely love this book!
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia has won many awards and notations: 2011 Coretta Scott King Award Winner, 2011 Newbery Honor Book, 2011 Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction, 2010 National Book Award Finalist, Junior Library Guild Selection, Texas Library Association Best Book for 2010, New York Times Editor’s Choice, Spring 2010 Junior Library Guild Selection, and a Kirkus Starred Review.
Ms. Williams-Garcia created characters who stepped off the page and into my life for more days than it took me to read this book–I keep thinking of them and wish I could find them again in another book! I’m old enough to remember the days of the Black Panthers in the 60′s, yet Delphine told me the story anew through her child-eyes and introduced me to people working for their rights as citizens with dedication and courage. With that as a backdrop, we follow Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, as they reconnect with their poet-mother who had deserted them and isn’t interested in having them for the summer. The writing is superb, the characters drawn in bold strokes and detail that fills in the heart and soul of these children, their parents, the Panthers, and childhood friends. This is a great book! Thank you to Rita Williams-Garcia for all the work that went into its creation.
I’ve seen Neil Gaiman mentioned many times on Twitter, but had not yet read his books. I found The Graveyard Book on a list of Carnegie Award winners, so I decided the time had come to see why so many people love this author. Clearly, they do! This book has received the following awards: Newbery Medal, ALA Notable Children’s Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, American Bookseller Association’s “Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book,” Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award (Vermont), Chicago Tribune Young Adult Literary Prize (for body of work), Audio Publishers Association Audie Award, Audiobook of the Year . . . Glancing at Neil’s website, I’m overwhelmed by the number of award-winning books he’s written. I’ll have to read more. Definitely!
The Graveyard Book is the story of a toddler who escapes the murder of his entire family and is taken in by the departed folks who live in the cemetery up the hill. Their world, which represents several centuries, and the world of this living child come together in the most creative way. The boy, Bod (short for Nobody Owens), grows up in the graveyard, learning how to navigate the ghostly world–and various skills his mentors possess–while also learning what he needs to know about the living world. That world, outside the gates, is dangerous because the murderer of his family is still searching for Bod. The characters are memorable, the story draws the reader into a world that becomes believable . . . and the tension builds until there is a major confrontation between Bob and those who want to destroy him. According to the back cover blurb, this story is an “ingenious and captivating reimagining of Rudyard Kipling’s classic adventure The Jungle Book.” Bravo, Neil Gaiman!