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Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder

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Recently I came across an excellent summer reading list pulled together by teacher extraordinaire Mike Lewis. It made me reflect on how some books just beg to be read in the summer. I hope that Laurel Snyder’s new book Seven Stories Up graces many future summer reading lists. In a compelling opening, readers encounter Annie […]

Family, Grandparents, Great Depression, History, Time Travel
Featured on July 28, 2014

The Pilot and the Little Prince by Peter Sís

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Antoine de Saint-Exupery was born in Lyon, France, on June 29, 1900. Called the Sun King by his family because of his golden hair, the young boy truly had his eyes on the sky. At the age of twelve he made his first flying machine from a bicycle. In The Pilot and the Little Prince, […]

History, Planes, True Story, World War I, World War II
Featured on June 29, 2014

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? by Tanya Stone
Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

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Since 1987, Women’s History Month has been celebrated in March—a time to look at all the unsung heroines and their contributions over the years. In 2013 the talented duo of Tanya Lee Stone and Marjorie Priceman teamed up to create a picture book perfect for Women’s History Month, Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The […]

History, Science, Social Conscience, Women
Featured on March 10, 2014

There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived by Matt Tavares

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I grew up in the state of Indiana, where basketball stood as the supreme sport, and moved to a city Boston, where baseball reigns. Consequently, like most Bostonians, I know that today the Red Sox play their first game in spring training. So I thought I would use this occasion to talk about one of […]

20th Century, Baseball, History, Sports, World War II
Featured on February 27, 2014

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

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February has been designated Black History Month since 1976, and this observance has allowed for both the acquisition and publishing of many fine children’s and young adult books. But although there are so many stories from Black American history to be told, these books often focus on the same subject areas or heroes. Hence I […]

20th Century, African American, History, Multicultural, World War II
Featured on February 10, 2014

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

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This week we celebrate Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators week, and I’d like to use the day to talk about an author whom I have admired for more than forty years. As a young Horn Book assistant editor, I read the galleys of the second children’s book by Susan Cooper, The Dark Is Rising, and […]

Colonial America, History, Multicultural, Native American
Featured on February 5, 2014

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by E. B. Lewis

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Today, many in the blogging community will be celebrating multiculturalism in children’s books. For a list of those participating, check pragmaticmom and Jump Into a Book. In a society where our children come from a variety of racial backgrounds, the plea for high-quality content, featuring characters of all races, has never been more important. On […]

African American, Civil Rights, History, Multicultural
Featured on January 27, 2014

Wendell Minor’s America by Norman Rockwell Museum
Illustrated by Wendell Minor

Every now and then on the Almanac, I like to discuss a book about children’s books, written for adults. Today, for Read a New Book Month, the Almanac features Wendell Minor’s America: 25 Years of Children’s Book Art, published by the Norman Rockwell Museum in conjunction with their current Wendell Minor exhibit. In this gorgeous […]

Animals, Art, History
Featured on December 9, 2013

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz

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November has been designated Life Writing Month, dedicated to the idea that each person has a story to tell from his or her own history. Next week, we celebrate National Geography Week. Our book of the day, Uri Shulevitz’s How I Learned Geography, can be used for both occasions. This powerful picture book, perennially popular […]

Geography, History, World War II
Featured on November 12, 2013

Locomotive by Brian Floca

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October has been designated National Reading Group Month. Usually, reading groups select novels. But today I recommend an unusual and brilliant work of narrative nonfiction published last month: Brian Floca’s Locomotive. With a career that began when Brian illustrated books for Avi in the early 1990s, the artist has continued to grow and get better […]

History, Science, Technology, Trains, Transportation
Featured on October 21, 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

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös by Deborah Heiligman
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

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Today we can celebrate Wonderful Weirdos Day, created by the citizens of Austin, Texas. The organizers suggest that we all need to recognize those individuals in our lives who are not normal or average. Our book of the day does just that; even its subtitle suggests that it celebrates a wonderful weirdo as it chronicles […]

History, Science, Technology
Featured on September 9, 2013

Salt by Helen Frost

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On September 5, 1812, the siege of Fort Wayne, Indiana, began, one of the incidents in the War of 1812. As a child growing up in Fort Wayne, I always thought that important American events happened elsewhere, in towns like Boston. And I believed that the Miami people, who had lived for centuries in the […]

History, Multicultural, Native American, War of 1812
Featured on September 5, 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

Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L. A. Meyer

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June has been designated Audio Appreciation Month. Today I am going to talk about an audio series that was recommended to me by my two favorite audio experts: Ellen Myrick, who created the audio section of 500 Great Books for Teens, and Alison Morris of Scholastic. If you are headed out for a road trip […]

Colonial America, History, Women
Featured on June 10, 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

Diego Rivera: An Artist for the People by Susan Goldman Rubin

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May 1, International Workers Day, is celebrated in more than eighty countries around the world The observance originated in the United States in the 1880s as workers mobilized to secure an eight-hour workday. The Association of American Publishers has designated May as Latino Book Month. So today seems like a perfect time to look at […]

History, Latino, Multicultural, Politics
Featured on May 1, 2013

One-Eyed Cat by Paula Fox

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Today marks the 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 of […]

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

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

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Today marks the birthday of Clara Lemlich, born in 1886 in Ukraine to a Jewish family. Following a pogrom in 1903, Clara and her family immigrated to the United States. She stood a mere five feet tall, but as Brave Girl, our book of the day, tells us, she had grit and was going to […]

20th Century, Clothing, History, Jewish, Multicultural, New York, Women
Featured on March 28, 2013

The Giant and How He Humbugged America by Jim Murphy

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March has been designated Ethical Awareness Month. Really good books that allow children and adults to explore ethical issues are not that easy to come by, although both Wonder and How to Steal a Dog  can be used for this purpose. But a 2012 nonfiction book by Jim Murphy, The Giant and How He Humbugged America, […]

Civil War, History
Featured on March 18, 2013

The Wreckers by Iain Lawrence

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Today marks the birthday of Canadian writer Iain Lawrence. He was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, called simply “the Sault,” which is pronounced to rhyme with zoo. Once a year his brother would sing, “Happy Birthday to you. You were born in the Sault.” Possibly this early nonsense verse encouraged Lawrence to seek a […]

Adventure, England, History, Survival
Featured on February 25, 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

Little White Duck by Na Liu
Illustrated by Andrés Vera Martínez

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For our last selection for Read a New Book Month, I’d like to look at one of the most original graphic novels to appear in the last couple of years, Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez’s Little White Duck. When books for American children focus on other parts of the world, they tend to be […]

20th Century, History, Women, World History
Featured on December 27, 2012

Monsieur Marceau by Leda Schubert
Illustrated by Gerard Dubois

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December has been designated Read a New Book Month. During this month many hunt for new books to give as gifts. If you are one of those people, take a look at the picture book biography, Monsieur Marceau, written by Leda Schubert and illustrated by Gerard Dubois, winner this year of NCTE’s Orbis Pictus Award. […]

History, Theater, World War II
Featured on December 10, 2012

Unspoken by Henry Cole

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December has been designated Read a New Book Month. I look forward to this celebration because I can present some new gems of the last couple of years. In 2012 Henry Cole published a remarkable wordless picture book, Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad. In artwork created only with charcoal, paper and pencil, Henry […]

Civil War, History, Social Conscience
Featured on December 5, 2012

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

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For more than eighty years, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has entertained Americans. For many households the viewing of the parade is as essential as eating turkey. But how did such an event come about? In Balloons Over Broadway, author and illustrator Melissa Sweet takes readers behind the scenes of the parade as she presents […]

History, Holidays, Humor, Thankgiving, Toys
Featured on November 22, 2012

Chickadee by Louise Erdrich

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November has been designated Native American Heritage Month.  A perfect book for this month is Louise Erdrich’s fabulous new novel for young readers ages eight through twelve, Chickadee. Several years ago, Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa, began a series of books set in the same region as Laura Ingalls […]

19th century, History, Multicultural, Native American
Featured on November 12, 2012

Castle: How It Works by David Macaulay

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Today marks the death date of Chaucer, the birthdate of English historian Thomas Macaulay, and the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, when the English defeated the French. When I looked at those three events, a new beginning reader comes to mind: David Macaulay’s Castle: How It Works. Good beginning readers with historical or informational content […]

Architecture, History
Featured on October 25, 2012

The Lincolns by Candace Fleming

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On October 15, 1860, eleven-year-old Grace Bedell wrote to a candidate running for the presidency, Abraham Lincoln. She stated that her brothers would vote for him if he grew a beard. “You would look a good deal better for your face is so thin,” she advised. Lincoln wrote back, and then, as a reporter announced, […]

Civil War, History
Featured on October 15, 2012

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss by Philip Nel

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Today is National Comic Book Day. Certainly comic books and graphic novels have become the hottest commodity in children’s publishing in the last few years. Last year I looked at one of the towering historical figures in that world: Crockett Johnson and The Carrot Seed. If you are a fan of Crockett Johnson, then Philip […]

History, Politics
Featured on September 25, 2012

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.