Tags: books for young readers, children's books, The Children's and Teens Book Connection, award-winning children's books, Kadir Nelson, Josh Schneider, Shane Evans, Jack Gantos
Coretta Scott King Author Award
The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. But it is also the story of injustice; of a country divided by law, education, and wealth; of a people whose struggles and achievements helped define their country. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it’s about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it’s about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It’s a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination and triumphs. (Ages 9 and up)
Kadir Nelson is an acclaimed illustrator whose powerful artwork is captured in numerous award-winning picture books, including the Caldecott Honor Book Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine; the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winner Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford; and his own We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball and Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. He lives with his family in San Diego, California.
Visit Kadir online at www.kadirnelson.com/.
A family silently crawls along the ground. They run barefoot through unlit woods, sleep beneath bushes, take shelter in a kind stranger’s home. Where are they heading? They are heading for Freedom by way of the Underground Railroad. (Ages 4 & up)
Shane Evans has illustrated numerous books for children, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner Shanna’s Ballerina Show. He attributes much of his influence to his travels to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and much of the United States. He is a firm believer in education and creative development for all people.
Visit Shane online at www.shaneevans.com.
Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air. (Ages 10 & up)
Jack Gantos has written novels for adults, young adults, and middle grade readers, as well as over twenty books for primary readers, including twelve titles chronicling the misadventures of Rotten Ralph. He lives in Santa Fe, NM.
Visit Jack online at
Any child who has ever had a beloved toy break will relate to Daisy’s anguish when her favorite ball is destroyed by a bigger dog. In the tradition of his nearly wordless picture book Yo! Yes?, Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka explores in pictures the joy and sadness that having a special toy can bring. Raschka’s signature swirling, impressionistic illustrations and his affectionate story will particularly appeal to young dog lovers and teachers and parents who have children dealing with the loss of something special. (ages 3 & up)
Chris Raschka has written and/or illustrated over 30 books for children, including The Purple Balloon, called “deceptively simple and beautifully direct” by Kirkus Reviews. His other books include Good Sports, an ALA Notable Book; the 2006 Caldecott Medal winning title, The Hello, Goodbye Window; the Caldecott Honor Books Yo! Yes?; and Mysterious Thelonius.
Theodor Suess Geisel Award
James is a very picky eater. His dad has to get creative—very creative—in order to get James to eat foods he thinks he doesn’t like. He presents James with a series of outlandish scenarios packed with fanciful and gross kid-friendly details—like pre-chewed gum as an alternative to broccoli and lumpy oatmeal that grows so big it eats the dog—in an effort to get James to eat. But it is eventually James himself who discovers that some foods are not so bad, after all, if you’re willing to give them a try. (Ages 6 & up)
Josh Schneider’s first book for Clarion, You’ll Be Sorry, was named a “Book That Provides Best Ammunition to Parents Weary of Warning Their Kids About Socking Their Siblings” by Publishers Weekly magazine. Josh lives in Chicago. He is very brave and can eat lots of scary foods (although he doesn’t).
Tags: book reviews, books for young readers, books that teach a lesson, books that teach children a lesson, Chapbooks for Tweens, Chapter books, children's books, children's fantasy, Guardian Angel Publishing, Kai Strand, The Children's and Teens Book Connection, The Weaver, Tween fiction
In a town of word weavers, Mary struggles through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. It’s even more embarrassing considering her mother’s fine talent at weaving tales. A chance meeting with a gnome-elf might change her luck. Instead, the wish he grants her leads to her weaving strange yarn charms that accompany her still pathetic stories.
I absolutely loved this story for its unique plot, the author’s engaging storytelling, and its wonderful message. The Weaver by Kai Strand is a beautifully written fantasy chapter book for tweens. Strand draws upon her love of crafting stories for the book’s plot. Imagine how you would feel if your mother was the best at the one thing you couldn’t do right. What would it be like to stand out among an entire community of people for your lack of a certain skill? This is exactly where Mary finds herself. Even worse, when she thinks all that will change thanks to her wish, she discovers she still can’t weave a good yarn like her mother. Strand does an excellent job of making the reader care for Mary and has us wishing things will turn out right.
A touching and sometimes funny story is what you’ll find in The Weaver.
- Paperback:94 pages
- Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (December 10, 2010)
- ISBN-13: 978-1616331221
- SRP: $9.95
Also available in a hardcover and a Kindle edition.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.
Tags: animal lovers books, book reviews, books for young readers, children's books, Children's picture books, children's books that foster imagination, children's fantasy, Heather Listul Hewitt, Monkey Made Dream, Rhyming books, The Children's and Teens Book Connection, Tom Listul
What would you do if one day you woke up and instead of your brother there was a monkey sleeping in his bed? Monkey Made Dream by Tom Listul and Heather Listul Hewitt is an imaginative tale of one girl’s big surprise and the day that follows.
This is an adorable book. A girl wakes up to find her brother isn’t in his bed. Instead, there’s a monkey. Funny thing is no one–not their mother, their teacher, or their classmates–sees anything wrong with her brother being a monkey. It’s like they don’t seem him as a monkey at all. This reminds me of Wacky Wednesday by Theo LeSieg, where one person can see things all crazy, but no one else can.
The rhymes keep the story flowing along at a nice pace, and the illustrations, while simple, add so much character to the story.
Monkey Made Dream is destined to get some laughs from young readers. They’ll enjoy this one.
- Paperback:40 pages
- Publisher:Trafford Publishing (December 8, 2010)
- ISBN-13: 978-1426949869
- SRP: $19.57
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.
Tags: book reviews, books for young readers, Historical fiction, Larry Peterson, The Priest and The Peaches, Tribute Books, virtual book tour, Young Adult fiction, young adult novel
Travel back to the Bronx in the unforgettable journey of the Peach kids and their ally Father Sullivan.
When Pops passes away, the newly orphaned Peach kids struggle to know what to do. Over the course of the next few days, they learn exactly what their father meant to so many people. When their neighbor decides to create problems for the unsupervised children living above her, they find a staunch ally in Father Sullivan. With his help, they soon come to know the importance of family, faith and forgiveness.
The Priest and the Peaches is the debut young adult historical e-book released by Tribute Books and authored by Larry Peterson. Peterson also wrote Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes, which we reviewed here. This is a moving story of one family’s life turned upside down by the sudden and unexpected death of their father. In addition to Peterson’s keen eye for detail, he provides readers a good glimpse into life in the Bronx in the mid-60’s. What I feel the author excelled in is how the characters evolved throughout the story. I was glad to see that not everyone had a change of heart, which kept the story real.
The book has an excellent message of how faith and family play a significant role in our lives. It also shares the message of forgiveness and second chances. What I truly enjoyed is how the story showed that kids often don’t know everything about their parents and the impact they have on other people. The Peach kids and the readers learn that Pops is a lot more than meets the eye.
I didn’t, however, care for the third person omniscient point of view. This book has a strong narrator, and as such, it was harder to get inside the characters’ heads than if the book was told from a different POV. Sometimes the characters sounded the same to me, and I didn’t like how the narrator would step outside of the present story to mention how things would play out in the future. I felt the book would have been stronger and moved more swiftly if told perhaps from Teddy’s point of view. Teddy is the oldest of the Peach kids and is now responsible, along with his seventeen-year-old sister, Joanie to care for their three younger brothers.
The Priest and The Peaches by Larry Peterson is a story you won’t soon forget. It inspires with its excellent messages. It will touch your heart and even make you laugh at times. I’m glad to hear the author is working on a sequel. I would love to know more about the Peaches.
Publisher: Tribute Books
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Tags: Beverly Stowe McClure, books for young readers, Children's picture books, children's books, Chronicle Books, Dixie Phillips, Guardian Angel Publishing, Janet Ann Collins, Julianne Moore, Mayra Calvani, Sally O. Lee, The Children's and Teens Book Connection, tiger tales, J. Aday Kennedy, David Melling, Tammi Salzano, Artie Bennett, Jennifer Fosberry, Angela McAllister, Steve Metzger, Lee & Low Books, Pauline Oud, Clavis Publishing, Guido van Genechten, Ink Robin, Kate Messner, LaNiyah Bailey, Candace Hall, Selina Alko, LEigh Hodgkinson, Georgie Birkett, Lee Baker, Stephen Shaskan, Leo Timmers, Top 10 Picture Books of 2011
This took longer than expected. As I mentioned in my last post, selections this year were hard. In addition, I discovered I needed to segregate picture books for little kids (babies, toddlers, preschoolers) from those for school-age children. While some books could overlap between the two age groups, there was no way for me to compile a fair list if I lumped them all into one group. For books where I couldn’t find an age listing, I put them where I felt they fit best. I’ll start off with my Top 10 for the youngest category and then list the Top 10 in the older category.
Top 10 Picture Books for Preschoolers and under
- Ricky’s Christmas Tree by Guido van Genechten
- A Cat’s Alphabet Book by Sally O. Lee
- My Daddy by Guido van Genechten
- Going to the Beach with Lily and Milo and Going to the Zoo with Lily and Milo by Pauline Oud (I reviewed these together, so I am counting them as one.)
- One Little Blueberry by Tammi Salzano
- Oops! by Leo Timmers
- 1-2-3- Count with Me and A is for Apple by Georgie Burkett (Again, I reviewed these together and count them as one.)
- Ricky is Brave by Guido van Genechten
- Thankyouplease by Pierre Winters and Barbara Ortelli
- Ian’s New Potty by Pauline Oud
There are repeat names on this list, but I felt these authors and publishers truly knew how to create books attractive to this market.
Top 10 Books of 2011 for Ages 3 and up
- A Dog is A Dog by Stephen Shaskan
- My Mom Has X-Ray Vision by Angela McAllister
- Will & Kate: A Love Story by Ink Robin
- Sea Monster’s First Day by Kate Messner
- The Butt Book by Artie Bennett
- Not Fat Because I Wanna Be by LaNiyah Bailey
- The Dancing Clock by Steve Metzger
- Humbug, A Christmas Carol by Lee Baker
- My Name is Not Alexander by Jennifer Fosberry
- Fifo “50 States” by Hayley Rose
- A Christmas Secret by Candace Hall
- Frederico, The Mouse Violinist by Mayra Calvani
- The Ice Cream King by Steve Metzger
- Marta’s Gargantuan Wings by J. Aday Kennedy
- Every-Day Dress-Up by Selina Alko
- Freckleface Strawberry Best Friends Forever by Julianne Moore
- Limelight Larry by Leigh Hodgkinson
- Don’t Worry Douglas! by David Melling
- Cinderfella and the Furry Godmother by Dixie Phillips
- Tumbleweed Christmas by Beverly Stowe McClure
- Secret Service Saint by Janet Ann Collins
- Seven Miles to Freedom by Janet Halfmann
Tags: Francesca Simon, Ian Alexander, Karen Pokras Toz, Kathleen Lane, Marva Dasef, Middle Grade books, Natasha Deen, ONCE WE WERE KINGS, Renee Hand, Sherree Funk, Teen fiction, The Children's and Teens Book Connection, Top 10 Middle Grade and Young Adult Books of 2011, Tween fiction, Vordak, Young Adult fiction
I’ve had such a difficult time picking favorites this year. There are so many books that can make these lists–like I mentioned over at The Book Connection–when I posted my Top 10 for that blog earlier today. I didn’t read as many books in the middle grade and young adult categories as I would have liked to this year, but I’m hoping to focus a bit more on those in 2012. It all depends upon my schedule and the requests I receive.
Sometimes reviewers are lucky when compiling their Top 10, and one book stands out amongst the rest. That is certainly the case for this list. Once We Were Kings by Ian Alexander is my favorite in the MG/YA categories for 2011. It tells the story of an orphan boy and a peasant girl from opposing villages who must work to unite their kingdoms against a powerful enemy that threatens to destroy them. With wonderful, well-drawn characters and a superb plot, Once We Were Kings takes top honors this year.
While not a huge lover of this genre, I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon excellent fantasy titles for young readers over the past couple of years. I look forward to finding more.
Here are other favorites from 2011:
2. Vorak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School by Vordak T. Incomprehensible
3. Horrid Henry Rocks by Francesca Simon
4. Horrid Henry Wakes the Dead by Francesca Simon
5. Bad Spelling by Marv Dasef
6. Peter Rock Star from Galilee: A Guided Bible Study for Teens by Sherree Funk
7. The Crypto-Capers in The Chest of Mystery by Renee Hand
8. Nana Takes the Reins by Kathleen Lane
9. Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz
10. True Grime by Natasha Deen
Look for my list for favorite picture books coming soon!
Tags: Children's picture books, Middle Grade books, The Children's and Teens Book Connection, Young Adult fiction
I try to compile a list every year of my top favorite books that I’ve read. I didn’t make it last year because my book, Little Shepherd, came out in August and I was busy promoting it. This year, I was determined to go back to sharing my favorites. I read close to 100 books in the children’s, middle grade and young adult genres in 2011. Since I’ve read more picture books than anything this year, I decided to create two different lists: one for picture books and one for middle grade and young adult fiction.
I’m hoping to have both lists posted by the end of the weekend. In the meantime, can you share some of your favorite books in these genres?