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  • On July 4 in the United States, we celebrate Independence Day and independence is an important characteristic of some of the great characters in children’s books. To round out Fourth of July barbeques, I’ve chosen a dozen picture books, novels, and works of nonfiction that celebrate individuals who know what it means to stand on their own.
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    Celebrate Independence with a Good Book

    by ANITA SILVEY
     | Jul 03, 2014

    On July 4 in the United States, we celebrate Independence Day and independence is an important characteristic of some of the great characters in children’s books. To round out Fourth of July barbeques, I’ve chosen a dozen picture books, novels, and works of nonfiction that celebrate individuals who know what it means to stand on their own.

    Picture Books

    MISS RUMPHIUS written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney

    “What makes Miss Rumphius memorable for many young readers, however, is the exquisite artwork, executed in the purples, pinks, and blues of the lupines—breathtaking landscapes marked by their beauty and soft color. With its positive and idealistic message of making the world a more beautiful place, this book has captivated both young readers and the parents and teachers who share the book with them. It reminds all of us that with just a little effort we can add beauty to our world.”

    IMOGEN’S LAST STAND written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

    “As Imogene works to have the house declared a national landmark, the book emphasizes that important events in history often occur in the smallest of towns. Although it addresses the serious topic of historical preservation, the book is executed with humor and panache. This picture book combines a delicious text made even funnier by Nancy Carpenter’s energetic pen-and-ink illustrations. She expands the role of Imogene’s father—we see him supporting his daughter, taking her on motorcycle trips, up in an airplane, and finally putting himself in stocks along with her to keep the house from being demolished.”

    SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian

    “Fortunately, Ann Rider of Houghton Mifflin had read the text again and again and believed it would make a fine picture book, one that she felt would be perfect for Vermont artist Mary Azarian. Hence Ann sent it to me, the Publisher, for approval. I still remember the first moment I encountered this text typed on a few pages. I was sitting in my office at Houghton. Fortunately, I had closed the door to read, because when I came to the page toward the end when Bentley dies, I began to sob. If this manuscript, with no adornment, only words, could make me cry, I knew that it had to be published. After a lot of work on the part of Ann, Jackie Martin, Mary Azarian, and designer Bob Kosturko, Snowflake Bentley became one of those books where everything comes together in a superb package. The text was beautifully paced and written; Mary Azarian’s woodcuts provided an extension of the words; Bob’s design was understated and elegant. When the book won the Caldecott Medal, the committee praised all three elements. Great picture books never belong only to the artist or to the writer—they always combine art, text, and design.”

    Novels

    MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN written by Jean Craighead George

    “At first Jean’s publisher balked at the idea of the novel. They were afraid that it might encourage young readers to flee their families for the nearest hemlock tree. However, when the book was finally released in 1959, it merely caused children to read the novel, cover to cover, because of the satisfying story. Because of Sam’s resilience and ingenuity, he remains one of the best-remembered children’s book characters of the twentieth century.”

    ALABAMA MOON written by Watt Key

    “In a very satisfying way, young Moon changes in the course of the narrative. He begins to understand that his father may not have had all the right opinions and answers.  Like most readers, I found him so appealing as a character that I read breathlessly until the close of the book. Packaged in paperback with an attractive cover drawn from the movie, Alabama Moon belongs on the shelf of anyone who loves adventure and survival fiction.”

    PIPPI LONGSTOCKING by Astrid Lindgren  

    “Lindgren—and Pippi—became a celebrity in Sweden. A theme park in Lindgren’s hometown celebrates Pippi Longstocking and its characters. In her lifetime, Lindgren was consistently mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature, an honor never yet bestowed on a children’s book writer. In recent years, another one of her characters, Kalle Blomkvist, a fictional boy detective, is frequently mentioned in the Swedish international bestseller series that began with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Author Stieg Larsson believed that his protagonist Lisbeth Salander was simply a grown-up version of Pippi Longstocking.”

    CURSE OF THE BLUE TATTOO by L. A. Meyer

    “If you fall in love with Jacky there are many other volumes of her tale. What I particularly love about Curse of the Blue Tattoo is the way Meyer skillfully weaves together American, British, and Boston history. It never overwhelms the story but certainly inspired me to read about the post-Colonial history of Boston. I hope it does the same for some inquiring young readers. All readers can certainly go along for the ride, enjoying the high jinx of an extremely attractive protagonist.”

    ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS by Scott O’Dell

    “Born in Los Angeles in 1898, Scott attended a number of colleges and eventually worked in the motion picture industry. He was on set for the first filming of Ben Hur. Eventually he became the book review editor for the Lost Angeles Daily News and wrote some books for adults. But a true story that he had encountered always haunted him, about a young Native American who spent eighteen years alone on an island off the California coast. There was no record of how she spoke, and because Scott wanted to give this character, Karana, great dignity, he wrote in iambic pentameter, the language of Shakespeare. He had no idea who might want to read this story—and entrusted a copy to his friend Hardwick Mosley, West Coast sales representative for Houghton Mifflin. Houghton thought Island of the Blue Dolphins a children’s story, published it in 1960, and Scott won the Newbery Award for his first book.”

    HATCHET by Gary Paulsen

    “Gary Paulsen actually dedicated Hatchet “To the students of the Hershey [Pennsylvania] Middle School.” While on a visit there, the young people encouraged him to write this story—one he had wanted to create all his life. An outdoorsman with a love of nature, Paulsen drew on his own experiences as he crafted the story of thirteen-year-old Brian, a city boy who finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness after a plane crash. Fortunately, Brian brought along a hatchet, his only tool to use in this hostile landscape.”

    THE (MOSTLY) TRUE ADVENTURES OF HOMER P. FIGG by Rodman Philbrick

    “Philbrick, a genius at creating child-friendly books such as Freak the Mighty and The Last Book in the Universe, has accomplished something extraordinary in his saga of two Maine boys, who inadvertently become soldiers in the Civil War. He has fashioned a tall tale that allows readers to turn the pages breathlessly as they absorb Civil War history. Homer, as the title suggests, has a tendency to dissemble a bit, even though he tells us at the beginning, “My name is Homer P. Figg and these are my true adventures.” Like many unreliable narrators, Homer never allows the truth to stand in the way of a good story. When his brother Harold is sold by a villainous uncle to fight in the Civil War, Homer heads out to save Harold from the clutches of the Union. Abduction, robbery, and espionage in a hydrogen balloon are just a few of our hero’s adventures before he and his brother end up with Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at Little Round Top, winning the Civil War for the brave boys in blue. Or so Homer would have us believe.”

    Nonfiction

    ELEANOR ROOSEVELT by Russell Freedman

    “Of all of Russell’s biographies, I have always loved his Eleanor Roosevelt the best. Perfect for 10- to 14-year-olds—I needed this book as a child myself. I once made a fool of myself in class because I thought that “FDR” was a swear word—so vehemently was it used at home. Imagine my surprise to find out these initials acknowledged a president of the United States. Russell has always admitted that he loved FDR’s wife a bit more than he loved the president, and the resulting tribute to her certainly shows his enthusiasm.”

    CARVER by Marilyn Nelson

    “Carver combines many elements in a slim volume of just over 100 pages. Lyrical poems form the bulk of the book, but they have been illuminated with archival photographs and clear and concise footnotes that provide background for the poems. Nelson moves with ease through the dramatic events of Carver’s life. When Carver was only one week old, he, his mother, and sister were kidnapped. Their owner Moses Carter hired John Bentley to rescue them.  Nelson showcases Bentley in the first poem, describing his search for and recovery of a “puny black baby.” She highlights George Washington Carver’s drive to become educated and shows him as a washboard wizard, cleaning clothes in Kansas for a living. Then in 1896 Carver accepts Booker T. Washington’s invitation to head up the Agricultural Department at Tuskegee Institute. He remains there for 47 years, inventing new crops and training generations of blacks to become self-sufficient farmers.”

    With a unique career in children's books, Anita Silvey has served both as the editor of The Horn Book Magazine and publisher of a major children's book imprint. She is the author of several books, including Henry Knox: Bookseller, Soldier Patriot and I’ll Pass For Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War. Her latest project, The Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac, is an interactive website she describes as a "daily love letter to a book or author," with each entry offering a glimpse into the story behind the story.

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  • Since 1976, February has been set aside as Black History Month, encouraging teachers to focus on this topic in the classroom. Fortunately, there are excellent books at each reading level that help tell the story of African American achievement.
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    Books for Black History Month

    by Anita Silvey
     | Feb 19, 2014

    Since 1976, February has been set aside as Black History Month, encouraging teachers to focus on this topic in the classroom. Fortunately, there are excellent books at each reading level that help tell the story of African American achievement. For instance, Steve Sheinkin’s THE PORT CHICAGO 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, which details the little-known story of 50 black Navy sailors who fought against discrimination in World War II. Listed below are a dozen other titles ideal for Black History Month—or any time of the year.

    Picture Books

    Anita's Picks: Dave the PotterDAVE THE POTTER: ARTIST, POET, SLAVE (Little Brown, 2010) written by Laban Carrick Hill Laban and illustrated by Bryan Collier
    “Dave was one of the finest artists of this time period, and he crafted objects that will last well beyond his lifetime. Collier brings him to life and shows him plying his craft. After seeing Dave at work and reading the simple but profound text, readers feel as if they know this man who was all but lost to the historical record—a true accomplishment on the part of both writer and artist.”

    HENRY’S FREEDOM BOX: A TRUE STORY FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (Scholastic, 2007) written by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
    “Slave Henry Brown built himself a box, less than three feet square, and mailed himself to freedom, a journey that took twenty-seven hours in a tight space with tiny air holes. Levine knew this true incident should be available for children, a perfect way to describe the lengths to which slaves would go to be free.”

    MOLLY BANNAKY (HMH Books, 1999) written by Alice McGill and illustrated by Chris Soentpiet
    “By telling Molly’s story, Alice McGill examines an aspect of Colonial America that rarely gets discussed in children’s books, the life of an interracial couple. As the grandson of a slave, Benjamin Banneker would have been denied access to books. But because of his grandmother, he received the gift that he needed to become an intellectual—the ability to read.”

    A NATION’S HOPE: THE STORY OF BOXING LEGEND JOE LOUIS (Dial, 2011) written by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
    “Although Matt de la Peña has concentrated on books for young adults, this text shows his dexterity at writing for a younger audience. He begins the saga: “Yankee Stadium. 1938./Packed crowds buzzing and bets/banter back and forth/The Bronx night air thick with summer.” Here on June 2, at 8:15 p.m. soft-spoken African-American Joe Lewis will take on Max Schmeling, the German boxer considered an example of Hitler’s master race.”

    THE OTHER SIDE (Putnam, 2001) written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis
    “In THE OTHER SIDE, Woodson explores the metaphor of a fence. A lone white child, Annie, lives on one side; a black child, Clover, plays with friends on the other. Both mothers admonish the girls to stay on their own side. But as the summer goes on, Annie begins to climb on the fence to see what is going on around her—and in a brave move, Clover joins her.”

    Fiction

    Anita's Picks: One Crazy SummerONE CRAZY SUMMER (Amistad, 2010) by Rita Williams-Garcia
    “In One Crazy Summer, Rita has created a powerful book that explores a period in history while it pulls in young readers because of its engaging characters. In the summer of 1968, three sisters, Delphine, age eleven, Vonetta, and Fern, find themselves living for twenty-eight days with their mother, Cecile, in Oakland, California.”

    ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY (Dial, 1976) by Mildred D. Taylor
    “Published in 1976 at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Roll of Thunder is one of the most important children’s novels of the twentieth century. It enables children to understand a period of time unknown to them and to think about and feel what children of another era might have experienced. “

    THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM—1963 (Delacorte, 1995) by Christopher Paul Curtis
    “Readers of this novel, ideal for ten- to fourteen-year-olds, have become so used to the bantering and humor-filled story that the final forty pages stand as a shocking juxtaposition to what has come before. In Birmingham, Alabama, Kenny almost drowns. Then on September 15, 1963, Joetta heads out for Sunday school class—and into one of the most famous and tragic events of the Civil Rights Movement.”

    Nonfiction

    BAD BOY:  A MEMOIR (Amistad, 2001) by Walter Dean Myers
    “Anyone who wants to gain a greater appreciation of Walter Dean Myers will want to read BAD BOY, his account of Harlem during the forties and fifties. Gifted in both athletics and school, Myers struggled with a quick and violent temper that caused a lot of trouble. In the memoir he examines being black in America and his realization that his best friend, who was white, had opportunities that he did not have.”

    Anita's Picks- Carver: A Life in PoemsCARVER: A LIFE IN POEMS (Boyds Mills, 2001) by Marilyn Nelson
    “In this amazing combination of literature and information, Marilyn Nelson creates a portrait of a believable human being. The poems can be used together, or just a few at a time, to entice young readers and make them want to read more about George Washington Carver. As a book Carver demonstrates that writers need not talk down to an audience or underestimate the abilities of young readers.”

    MARCHING FOR FREEDOM: WALK TOGETHER CHILDREN AND DON'T YOU GROW WEARY  (Viking, 2009) by Elizabeth Partridge
    “Powerful, inspiring, and moving, the book not only presents information but also raises ethical questions. How could American citizens be denied their rights? How could white officials and the Klu Klux Klan be allowed to spread fear and violence in these communities?”

    ASHLEY BRYAN: WORDS TO MY LIFE’S SONG (Atheneum, 2009) by Ashley Bryan
    “In the almost forty-one years that I have been associated with children’s books, I have heard only adoring comments about Ashley Bryan. His reputation in the industry says everything about his character. A true believer, he has worked with passion and devotion to promote the creative work of African Americans. Ashley ends WORDS TO MY LIFE’S SONG with this sentence: ‘This is my story. Whether it be bitter or whether it be sweet, take some of it elsewhere and let the rest come back to me.’”

    Anita Silvey on Reading Today OnlineWith a unique career in children's books, Anita Silvey has served both as the editor of THE HORN BOOK MAGAZINE and publisher of a major children's book imprint. She is the author of several books, including HENRY KNOX: BOOKSELLER, SOLDIER, PATRIOT and I'LL PASS FOR YOUR COMRADE: WOMEN SOLDIERS IN THE CIVIL WAR. Her latest project, THE CHILDREN'S BOOK-A-DAY ALMANAC (Roaring Brook Press, 2012), began as an interactive website. The entries serve as a "daily love letter to a book or author," with each one offering a glimpse into the story behind the story. 
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  • Like every publishing year, 2013 brought some glorious new books for readers. On the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac, I always like to remind readers of the classics, the books we shouldn’t forget. But here are some new titles that I think are good enough to become classics in the future.
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    Future Classics for Your Classroom

    by Anita Silvey
     | Dec 16, 2013

    Like every publishing year, 2013 brought some glorious new books for readers. On the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac, I always like to remind readers of the classics, the books we shouldn’t forget. But here are some new titles that I think are good enough to become classics in the future.

    Picture Books

    EXCLAMATION MARK (Scholastic Press, 2013) written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
    “Clever and funny, the book, of course, explores a greater truth than the appropriate use of punctuation. For anyone trying to communicate, finding your own voice often does feel like breaking out of jail. The fact that Amy Krouse Rosenthal can make readers interested in such seemingly mundane topics as spoons, chopsticks, and a form of punctuation, attests to the power of her own unique voice.”

    Lucky DucklingsLUCKY DUCKLINGS (Orchard Books, 2013) written by Eva Moore and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter 
    “The text, with just the right arc of a story for a picture book, has been made sublime by the artwork of Nancy Carpenter. She creates personalities for all the ducklings and develops a story for Little Joe not found in the text.  In silhouette or in full-color, her beguiling ducks steal readers’ hearts, and everyone cheers for their ultimate triumph. I love this book because it is a true picture book, with the perfect balance of art and text and pictures that embellish the story line.”

    MR. WUFFLES! (Clarion Books, 2013) by David Wiesner
    “Great fun from the first page to the last, Mr. Wuffles! is based on a concept that every cat owner understands. Our pets have fascinating and interesting lives that we only barely glimpse. They see and smell things to which we remain oblivious, and what we think they will like often bores them.”

    Novels

    FLORA & ULYSSES (Candlewick, 2013) written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by K.G. Campbell
    “Although a superhero, Ulysses remains quite squirrel-like in the text. He spends an inordinate amount of his time thinking about food—that is, when he isn’t typing poetry (Ah, yes, that little detail). He writes amazing poetry. As you can see, these elements are not your usual story fare. But I fell for them—hook, line, and sinker. “Holy bagumba!” as Flora would say.”

    Road TripROAD TRIP (Wendy Lamb Books, 2013) by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen 
    “In his author’s note, Paulsen sums up my own feelings about dogs brilliantly: They ‘never lie or cheat, and their default setting is love. Some may seem grumpy, but all dogs have horror, humor, and dignity, and if you’re really lucky and you pay attention, they will bring out those same characteristics in you.’ That is what my really good dog Lady did for me for more than twelve years.”

    SALT(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013)by Helen Frost
    “This tale of friendship and harmony lost between the settlers and the native people, recreated again and again in so many areas of the United States, is truly a sad one. I cried when I finished Salt, because finally as an adult I read a book where the history of my hometown had been given importance and meaning. While my response was deeply personal, I would recommend this book to anyone hunting for superb Midwestern historical fiction.”

    THE REAL BOY (Walden Pond Press, 2013) written by Anne Ursu and illustrated by Erin McGuire
    “Anne Ursu keeps readers turning the pages until the unexpected but satisfying ending of the story. Oscar makes an endearing protagonist; he struggles with his inability to interact with people and even look them in the eye. He does not understand emotional interactions and without thinking says things that hurt those around him. However, in the end he and Callie realize they may be the only ones who can save this magic-sick country from itself.”

    Nonfiction

    LOCOMOTIVE (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2013) by Brian Floca
    “Brian’s illustrations depict the people working on the railroad and the people who ride on it. Readers learn fascinating details about steam power, how the engines were kept running, and services provided by the train. Since the toilets on early trains were only holes in the floor, it was considered rude to use it while the train sat in the station! Bridges, details of the landscape, animals that roam the plains, and the sounds of the steam engine are all integrated into the story as a young girl travels from Omaha to Sacramento.”

    StardinesSTARDINES SWIM HIGH ACROSS THE SKY AND OTHER POEMS (Greenwillow Books, 2013) written by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Carin Berger 
    “Prelutsky’s poetry is always fun to read aloud. But this volume is particularly spectacular in its artistic treatment. The entire book has been set up as a scientist’s specimen book or box, and many of the pages are lined as if placed on tablet paper. Set in courier type, the text looks as if it might have been created on a typewriter and then pasted in the album. For many of the creatures, Berger has created miniature dioramas from cut paper, engravings, wire, thread, wood—even beeswax! Helpful tools such as a pronunciation guide have been provided.”

    THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH: THE IMPROBABLY LIFE OF PAUL ERDOS (Roaring Brook Press, 2013) written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham
    “In the perfect end to a life devoted to numbers, Paul dies while at a math meeting. Heiligman’s author notes extend her delightful saga of his life. And LeUyen Pham’s artwork brings this wonderful weirdo to life. He jumps and leaps around the pages, with numbers appearing wherever he goes. Pham’s lengthy art notes, all too rare in picture books, extend the text and provide information about her visual interpretation of Erdös’s life. Anyone interested in visual accuracy in picture books should own this book for the footnotes alone!”

    Books for Teachers

    Wendell Minor's AmericaWENDELL MINOR’S AMERICA: 25 YEARS OF CHILDREN’S BOOK ART (Norman Rockwell Museum, 2013) by Wendell Minor
    “The catalog exhibits the amazing scope of Wendell’s work with glorious images from these books. With so many teachers today hunting for narrative nonfiction for the classroom to fulfill the Common Core standards, Wendell Minor’s America suggests a welcome approach. It makes an ideal springboard for an artist study that brings in books from all areas of the curriculum.”

    With a unique career in children's books, Anita Silvey has served both as the editor of THE HORN BOOK MAGAZINE and publisher of a major children's book imprint. She is the author of several books, including HENRY KNOX: BOOKSELLER, SOLDIER, PATRIOT and I'LL PASS FOR YOUR COMRADE: WOMEN SOLDIERS IN THE CIVIL WAR. Her latest project, THE CHILDREN'S BOOK-A-DAY ALMANAC (Roaring Brook Press, 2012), began as an interactive website. The entries serve as a "daily love letter to a book or author," with each one offering a glimpse into the story behind the story. 

    Read More
  • The last five years in children’s books could be called the age of the graphic novel. Young readers have responded with joy and enthusiasm to this format. Whether it’s the best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series or some of the books listed below, they find the combination of text, art, and story irresistible.
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    Anita's Picks: Children Love Graphic Novels!

    by Anita Silvey
     | Aug 12, 2013
    The last five years in children’s books could be called the age of the graphic novel. Young readers have responded with joy and enthusiasm to this format. Whether it’s the best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series or some of the books listed below, they find the combination of text, art, and story irresistible.

    To kick off We Love Graphic Novels Week, here are some of the best picks from the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac.

    Grades 1–3

    CAMP BABYMOUSE (Random House, 2007) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
    “If you haven’t yet met this incredibly popular heroine, CAMP BABYMOUSE will make you a convert. I myself am just grateful that no one is sending me to any sleepaway camp this year, but if they were, I’d definitely bring Babymouse—not to mention scores of cupcakes—with me.”

    BAD KITTY GETS A BATH (Roaring Brook Press, 2008) by Nick Bruel
    “Children love the mayhem created by Bad Kitty. Of course, the personality of this character is basically that of a little kid. Laugh-out-loud funny, with energetic drawings, the book brings demands for many readings.”

    THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (Scholastic, 1997) by Dav Pilkey
    The Captain Underpants series have sold more than forty million copies, they have made children who think they hate books become readers, and they have made the author a household name…. [THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS] contains so much silly, even gross, humor and action-filled drawings that young readers finish an entire book without meaning to.”

    LUNCH LADY AND THE CYBORG SUBSTITUTE (Knopf, 2009) by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
    “…how well do you really know the lunch lady? Do you know what she does when she leaves the school? In our book of the day, an inquiring group of kids ask these questions and discover some amazing answers. For in their school, the lunch lady is someone to be feared. She serves both lunch—and justice—in equal measure.”

    Grades 4–6

    LITTLE WHITE DUCK (Graphic Universe, 2012) by Na Liu
    “When books for American children focus on other parts of the world, they tend to be in line with accepted American political thinking. But told as a series of short stories, LITTLE WHITE DUCK stands apart from that trend presenting a positive portrait of Maoist China.”

    SMILE (GRAPHIX, 2010) by Raina Telgemeier
    “Some read SMILE as a memoir; others simply find themselves fascinated by a story that rings so true to their own experiences…. In the end, whether you are an adult or child, after finishing this book you will find yourself smiling along with the protagonist.”

    THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE BLUE LOTUS (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1984) by Hergé
    The brave and resourceful snub-nosed reporter Tintin and his fox terrier Snowy [are] popular with both adults and children around the world. In twenty-four books, told completely as comic strips, Tintin and Snowy travel to various exotic places, including America, where he takes on the Chicago mobster Al Capone….Intelligent, kindhearted, and fearless, Tintin has beguiled young readers around the world.”

    Grades 5–8

    THE ODYSSEY (Candlewick Press, 2010) by Gareth Hinds
    “Various versions of THE ODYSSEY have been created over the years, to make this story accessible to younger readers. In 2010 Gareth Hinds rendered an exciting version of this great story in a graphic novel format. … Through alternating text blocks that provide the story line with frequent illustration sequences relaying the action, Hinds presents a great hero saga. Now Odysseus can stand beside Spider-Man and all the other action figures.”

    LOST & FOUND (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011) by Shaun Tan
    “A great book for discussion for children ages 11–14, LOST & FOUND was adapted for an animated short film that won Tan an Oscar. With imagery that might well have come from the fevered imagination of Hieronymus Bosch, Tan creates picture books with philosophical, historical, or emotional issues at their core. Each story causes the reader to pause, think about the issues raised, and then go back and pore over the pictures because so much detail has been incorporated in the art.”

    THE ARRIVAL (Levine, 2007) by Shaun Tan
    “In this graphic novel readers follow the story, presented without words, of a lone immigrant, who leaves his wife, daughter, and home, and travels by steamship to a new land. Huddled together with other passengers, he eventually sees his destination, but everything looks bizarre. Even the pets look like they might best be avoided. The language used on buildings and signs perplexes both the immigrant and the reader… Since the reader is always viewing the scene from the immigrant’s eyes, he or she experiences this strange new land just as the man does.”

    With a unique career in children's books, Anita Silvey has served both as the editor of THE HORN BOOK MAGAZINE and publisher of a major children's book imprint. She is the author of several books, including HENRY KNOX: BOOKSELLER, SOLDIER, PATRIOT and I'LL PASS FOR YOUR COMRADE: WOMEN SOLDIERS IN THE CIVIL WAR. Her latest project, THE CHILDREN'S BOOK-A-DAY ALMANAC (Roaring Brook Press, 2012), began as an interactive website. The entries serve as a "daily love letter to a book or author," with each one offering a glimpse into the story behind the story.

    © 2013 Anita Silvey. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
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  • From May 13-19, 2013 we mark our longest running event in the children’s book world—Children’s Book Week. First celebrated in 1919, the week is administered by the Children’s Book Council; every year they provide posters and bookmarks for teachers to use.
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    • Anita's Picks

    Anita's Picks: The Children Have Chosen

    by Anita Silvey
     | May 15, 2013
    From May 13-19, 2013 we mark our longest running event in the children’s book world—Children’s Book Week. First celebrated in 1919, the week is administered by the Children’s Book Council; every year they provide posters and bookmarks for teachers to use.

    The CBC also honors authors and books with their Children’s Choice Book Awards, the only awards voted on by children all over the United States. (Finalists are pulled from the Children’s Choices project, a joint effort between the CBC and the International Reading Association.)

    If you are hunting for a list of crowd-pleasing books to add to summer reading lists or to enjoy in the classroom, the Children’s Choice annual selections are completely reliable. Here are some of the honorees from this year and years past.

    Picture Books

    SHARK VS. TRAIN (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010), written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
    “One of the most creative picture books of 2010, Chris Barton’s SHARK VS. TRAIN explores the imaginative life of children….It shows a profound understanding of childhood imaginative play and creates a lot of laughs when read aloud. Funny, original, exciting.”

    HOMER (Greenwillow Books, 2012) by Elisha Cooper
    “It is rare to find a successful picture book where the protagonist observes rather than participates in activity. Yet in the watercolor and pencil art, Homer looms as the focal point of each piece.”

    ART AND MAX (Clarion Books, 201) by David Wiesner
    “Everything—from the cover underneath the jacket, with an illustration that looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, to the back flap of the jacket with a picture of David as a child—enhances this reading experience. Beautiful paper and classic typography help make ART & MAX fun to read and a pleasure to hold in your hands as well.”

    Knuffle Bunny series (Hyperion, 2004-2010) by Mo Willems
    “With a real grasp of childhood behavior, a sense of what constitutes a solid story, and the artistic ability to render his thoughts in simple line and color, Mo Willems has emerged as one of the most popular picture book artist of the twenty-first century.”

    Novels

    WONDER (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012) by R. J. Palacio
    “In this book, ideal for ten- to fourteen-year-olds, Palacio explores the issues of beauty and deformity—what physical appearance means in American culture….A fabulous book for classroom sharing or book discussion groups.”

    THE LIGHTNING THIEF (Hyperion, 2005) by Rick Riordan
    “An inventive plot, engaging characters, non-stop action, and an unpredictable ending have helped make the stories of Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan some of the most beloved reading for ten- to fourteen-year-olds in the last few years…. And as young readers devour Percy’s saga, they also learn a lot about Greek Mythology.”

    OKAY FOR NOW (Clarion Books, 2011) by Gary Schmidt
    “If you love baseball, you’ll learn a lot about the Yankees in the 1960s. If you are interested in art, you’ll find some brilliant composition analysis. If you are a literature nut, you will be able to see JANE EYRE through Doug’s eyes. If you enjoy watching a writer weave story, plot, and language together, you can savor this brilliant book by a master at the top of his craft—one of the finest pieces of writing for young readers of the last decade.”

    THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET (Scholastic Press, 2007) by Brian Selznick
    “Even the subplots of this sprawling novel have subplots; and because so much of the story is told in art, every reader has a slightly different version of what happens in the book.”

    Graphic Novels

    Bad Kitty series (Roaring Brook Press, 2005-present) by Nick Bruel
    “Children love the mayhem created by Bad Kitty. Of course, the personality of this character is basically that of a little kid. Laugh-out-loud funny, with energetic drawings, the book brings demands for many readings.”

    Babymouse series (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2005-present) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
    “Brother and sister team Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm have created one masterful book after another…. Once a reader age four through ten has found one of the sagas about this endearing protagonist, they long for more.”

    Lunch Lady series (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009-present) by Jarrett Krosoczka
    “In the past few years, Jarrett J. Krosoczka has become one of our most popular authors with children. His Lunch Lady series demonstrates why. He remembers what he thought about as a child and knows how to entertain children and keep them laughing.”

    SMILE (GRAPHIX, 2010) by Raina Telgemeier
    “Some read SMILE as a memoir; others simply find themselves fascinated by a story that rings so true to their own experiences…. In the end, whether you are an adult or child, after finishing this book you will find yourself smiling along with the protagonist.”

    With a unique career in children's books, Anita Silvey has served both as the editor of THE HORN BOOK MAGAZINE and publisher of a major children's book imprint. She is the author of several books, including HENRY KNOX: BOOKSELLER, SOLDIER, PATRIOT and I'LL PASS FOR YOUR COMRADE: WOMEN SOLDIERS IN THE CIVIL WAR. Her latest project, THE CHILDREN'S BOOK-A-DAY ALMANAC (Roaring Brook Press, 2012), began as an interactive website. The entries serve as a "daily love letter to a book or author," with each one offering a glimpse into the story behind the story.

    © 2013 Anita Silvey. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
    Read More
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