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When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

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This week has been designated Write a Letter of Appreciation Week. Consequently, I will use this essay to send a note to Rebecca Stead about her novel When You Reach Me. Many of my readers have probably already picked up this Newbery Medal­–winning book, which is clearly on its way towards becoming a classic. But […]

Award Winning, Newbery, Science
Featured on March 6, 2014

On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer

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Today marks the seventy-fifth birthday of one of the loveliest ladies in the children’s book field, Marion Dane Bauer. I first met Marion, who has lived in Minneapolis most of her life, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, at Hattiesburg’s fabulous book festival. I already knew I loved her work; but after meeting Marion, I realized that the […]

Award Winning, Feelings, Friendship, Newbery
Featured on November 20, 2013

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

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September has been designated Read a New Book Month. But for me, rereading a book I haven’t picked up for decades often seems like reading a new one. At the beginning of every school year, I ask my graduate students to talk about the book they most loved as a child. Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The […]

Ancient, Award Winning, History, Multicultural, Newbery
Featured on September 16, 2013

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

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On July 21, 1899, Noble Prize–winning author Ernest Hemingway was born. Although raised in Oak Park, Illinois, during his later years Hemingway lived in Key West, Florida, and Cuba. This booze hound and bullfighting advocate seems an unlikely candidate for an upbeat and whimsical children’s novel. But in 2010 Jennifer L. Holm used Papa in […]

Award Winning, Family, History, Newbery
Featured on July 21, 2013

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Illustrated by Trudy White

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May serves as both Personal History Awareness Month and Jewish American Heritage Month. When I saw these events, I immediately thought of one of the most amazing novels of the last ten years, Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Although Zusak grew up in Australia, his mother had lived in Munich during the reign of Hitler […]

Award Winning, History, Jewish, Multicultural, Printz, World War II
Featured on May 27, 2013

One-Eyed Cat by Paula Fox

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Today marks the ninetieth birthday of writer Paula Fox, born in New York City. Her memoir Borrowed Finery tells the haunting story of her childhood and her rejection by her mother who left her in an orphanage. Paula was initially raised by Reverend Elwood Corning and his bedridden mother; later Fox’s Cuban grandmother took care […]

Animals, Award Winning, Cats, Family, Great Depression, History, Newbery
Featured on April 22, 2013

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

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This week the International Cemetery, Cremation, and Funeral Association holds its annual convention. I once took care of the Houghton Mifflin booth during a convention held in a small hotel complex where funeral directors took up the other half of the hall. I couldn’t think of a book that I might bring over to them. […]

20th Century, Award Winning, History, Newbery, Summer
Featured on April 8, 2013

The Moon Jumpers by Janice May Udry
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

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March 30th marks the New Moon, and moon cycles always remind me of a 1957 title by Janice May Udry, The Moon Jumpers, which won a Caldecott Honor for its illustrator, Maurice Sendak when he was just thirty years old. It has now been almost two years since Maurice’s death, and the outpouring of affection […]

Award Winning, Bedtime, Caldecott
Featured on March 27, 2013

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

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The game’s afoot! This weekend in Cape May, New Jersey, one of my favorite events of the year, Sherlock Holmes Weekend, takes place. Anyone lucky enough to attend can don Victorian garb and stalk gas-lit streets to solve an intriguing mystery. I myself always want to go, if only to wear one of those great […]

Award Winning, Newbery
Featured on March 11, 2013

The Tree House by Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman

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In the first week in February, we celebrate Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week. Of course, on the Almanac I celebrate them every day of the year. But still I appreciate a week where everyone can focus on these extraordinary people. After being in the field for more than forty years, I love finding an author-illustrator […]

Animals, Art, Award Winning
Featured on February 4, 2013

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

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Many make reading resolutions for the New Year, and I do as well for the Almanac. Last year, a consulting project I worked on made me painfully aware of how few of our best books for children focus on other than English-speaking countries. So this year I intend to write more Almanac entries with an […]

Award Winning, Family, History, Social Conscience
Featured on January 14, 2013

Listening for Madeleine by Leonard S. Marcus

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On November 29 we celebrate the birth date of one of America’s most beloved authors. Madeleine L’Engle was born in 1918 and throughout her life faced many obstacles, including roughly twenty-seven rejections of the book that made her famous, A Wrinkle in Time. Her father was a troubled man—she frequently spoke of him in public […]

Award Winning, Family, New York, Newbery, Women
Featured on November 29, 2012

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

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Unless you are living under a rock, you know today is Halloween. Either for nutritional or theological reasons, Halloween has not been as appreciated in recent years as when I was a child. But I think there is a better holiday to celebrate on October 31. In fact, I am sorry that it is not […]

Award Winning, Family, Newbery
Featured on October 31, 2012

Carver by Marilyn Nelson

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August has been designated National Inventor’s Month. Possibly because my engineer father held many telecommunications patents, as a child I always felt that invention was something exciting and possible. Certainly in the book of the day, Marilyn Nelson’s Carver, George Washington Carver emerges as a figure any child would want to emulate. Marilyn Nelson has […]

19th century, African American, Award Winning, History, Newbery, Science
Featured on August 6, 2012

Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman

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Born in Philadelphia on April 8, 1939, Trina Schart Hyman trained as an illustrator and spent over three decades creating beautiful books and artwork for children. Beloved by her editors, Trina, who was always a force to be reckoned with, delighted in making sure they actually studied what she had drawn. She usually wove in […]

Award Winning, Caldecott, Fairy Tale, Folktale
Featured on April 8, 2012

Witches! by Rosalyn Schanzer

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The end of February can be brutal in New England. Certainly more than one inhabitant of the region has felt that powers of darkness have seized the barren land. And during the end of February 1692, the Reverend Samuel Parris and other ministers in Salem, Massachusetts, grilled two children, nine-year-old Betty Parris and her eleven-year-old […]

Award Winning, Colonial America, History, Politics, Religion/Spirituality, Sibert
Featured on February 29, 2012

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

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While I was vacationing in the Rangeley Lakes area of Maine in October a sign caught my eye: “Wilhelm Reich Museum.” Although I could not get in, I was intrigued to see the location of the laboratory of the radical psychoanalyst who worked with Sigmund Freud. While there I thanked him silently for his little-known […]

Animals, Award Winning, Caldecott, Magic
Featured on November 14, 2011

My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

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October has been designated Reading Group Month by the Women’s National Book Association. All kinds of reading groups have become popular over the last couple of decades: teen book groups, mother and daughter groups, parents and children groups. An ideal pick for book groups and classroom discussions is our book of the day: My Brother […]

Award Winning, Family, History, Newbery, Revolutionary War
Featured on October 27, 2011

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris

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I live in a highly literate, educated, and politically centrist town in Massachusetts. While others have been cutting school money, Westwood recently built a new library. The children’s staff here has to be one of the best I have ever seen in action, responsive to teachers and parents. For me personally, they have provided amazing […]

Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award
Featured on September 29, 2011

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

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On September 15, 1934, in Meriden, Connecticut, a boy who would become one of the world’s best storytellers was born. Tomie dePaola always credited his Irish and Italian family for providing him with the material for many of his sagas. I don’t know if he came out of the womb spinning tales, but he claims […]

Award Winning, Caldecott, Food, Humor, Magic
Featured on September 15, 2011

Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos

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September has been designated Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Month to educate everyone about effective treatments for the disease. In 1998 Jack Gantos published a book called Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key that not only became a National Book Award finalist but also goes a long way in educating young readers about ADHD. Joey Pigza […]

ADHD, Award Winning, Humor, National Book Award, School, Special Needs
Featured on September 14, 2011

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

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September has been set aside as a month to “Be Kind to Authors and Editors.” On the Almanac, I could use that as my moto 365 days of the year. Authors and editors are the people who make our best books possible, who work to provide quality content for children, and they deserve kindness and […]

Animals, Award Winning, Caldecott, Fish, Social Conscience
Featured on September 10, 2011

Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton

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Her sons called her “Ginnee.” Every now and then, she might be, “Oh, Mom,” but she seemed, even in childhood, their best friend. And because of them, she became the best friend, or author, for millions of boys and girls over the years. Today we celebrate the birthday of an artist who created not only one […]

Award Winning, Caldecott, History, Science
Featured on August 30, 2011

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

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In August of 1941 a picture book appeared that has become synonymous with the city of Boston for millions of readers. While he was an art student there, Robert McCloskey got the idea for Make Way for Ducklings from a true story that appeared in the newspaper. However, he developed the book in New York […]

Animals, Award Winning, Boston, Caldecott, Ducks
Featured on August 28, 2011

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin

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From August 5–7 in Twinsburg, Ohio, twins from around the world have come for festivities that include contests, talent shows, and fireworks. In years past this assembly has made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest gathering of twins at one time. Well, twins have always fascinated children, and literature for children […]

Asian American, Award Winning, Family, Multicultural
Featured on August 6, 2011

An American Plague by Jim Murphy

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On August 3, 1793, a young French sailor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, contracted a virulent fever, which worsened before he died. Newspaper accounts in the new nation’s capital did not even give his name, and everyone went about their usual business in the City of Brotherly Love. But from that moment on, an invisible killer stalked […]

Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, History, Newbery, Science, Sibert
Featured on August 3, 2011

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

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Seventy-six years ago on July 30, 1935, the modern paperback revolution began when Sir Allen Lane published the first Penguin paperback. I have always been grateful that he was knighted for this achievement—and that in the United States, beginning in the sixties, paperback books for children became a staple of publishing lists. Although I love […]

Award Winning, History, Jewish, Multicultural, Newbery, Politics, Social Conscience, World War II
Featured on July 30, 2011

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt

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I live in New England. During the month of July many of us in the region, as well as those from far away, seek out the beauty of the Maine coast—canoeing or kayaking in coves, sunlight on the water, baseball games, lobster, and fresh blueberry pie. These are just some of the images we all […]

20th Century, African American, Award Winning, History, Multicultural, Newbery, Printz, Religion/Spirituality
Featured on July 22, 2011

Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson

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Today for National Rabbit Week, we’ll look at one of our timeless classics. The Newbery winner Rabbit Hill has been much loved from the time it was published in 1944, during the height of World War II, at least in part because it seems very contemporary in its concerns. Robert Lawson was one of those […]

Animals, Award Winning, Newbery, Rabbits
Featured on July 19, 2011

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

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July 15–21 has been designated National Rabbit Week to pay tribute to this animal for being such a great companion for humans. What is it about rabbits that so inspire children’s book authors and illustrators? Ever since Peter Rabbit went lippety, lippety down the road, rabbits have multiplied like—well—bunnies in children’s books. I’ll be talking […]

Animals, Award Winning, Caldecott, Humor, Imagination, Rabbits
Featured on July 16, 2011

Words to My Life’s Song by Ashley Bryan

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Today marks a very special birthday: the 88th of author and illustrator Ashley Bryan. Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Ashley has lived on an island off the coast of Maine for years. He gets to stay there less than he might like, because he is in so much demand as a speaker. […]

20th Century, African American, Art, Award Winning, History, Multicultural
Featured on July 13, 2011

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .

The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .

And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large.