Hidden by Loie Dauvillier
Illustrated by Marc Lizano


Last week was Children’s Book Week, when kids around the country celebrated the books they love to read. I’d like to continue the conversation this week with a topic always on my mind. How does an author create a book that will really make a difference in the life of a child, one that will […]

20th Century, History, Jewish, Multicultural, World War II
Featured on May 11

Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell
Illustrated by Christian Robinson


Black History Month encourages the sharing of books about African American history with children. And although there has always been a certain predictability to the titles authors and publishers offer for young readers on this topic, we have recently seen some unique and unexpected titles, such as Steve Sheinkin’s Port Chicago 50. Such is the […]

20th Century, African American, Dance, History, Multicultural, Paris
Featured on February 17

Audacious Kids: The Classic American Children’s Story by Jerry Griswold


December has been designated Read a New Book month. My offering for the Almanac today, first published in 1992, has just been updated and rereleased by Johns Hopkins University Press. Although I know a handful of my readers picked up Jerry Griswold’s critical examination of some of our great American classics, Audacious Kids, I offer […]

19th century, 20th Century
Featured on December 8

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

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On November 7, 1917, a revolution began in Russia that would change the twentieth century. In what is sometimes called the October Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, or the October Uprising (because at the time Russia used the Julian or Old Style calendar), Bolshevik Red Guards began to seize buildings in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and the Winter […]

20th Century, History, World War I
Featured on November 10

The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters

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Around this time of year, I like to alert Almanac readers to some new titles, ideal for holiday gift-giving, that they might have missed. Today I want to sing the praises of the second novel by Cat Winters, The Cure for Dreaming. Now, I have been an active part of the children’s book world since […]

20th Century, History, Politics, Social Conscience, Women, Women's Suffrage
Featured on October 29

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

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From my point of view, author Steve Sheinkin is one of the most interesting young writers of narrative nonfiction today. Like most who choose to write nonfiction, he has an obsession, a passion, for history. But he excels in making history exciting for young readers, in bringing them into the action and adventure of whatever topic […]

20th Century, History, Politics, Science
Featured on September 17

The Watch that Ends the Night by Allan Wolf

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On July 13, 1864, John Jacob Astor IV was born in Rhinebeck, New York. He would become the richest man in the world—a land developer, inventor, and even author of a science fiction novel. Today Astor is best remembered as one of the victims of the Titanic. He serves as one of the multiple narrators […]

20th Century, History
Featured on July 13

The Secret of the Yellow Death by Suzanne Jurmain


On June 18–20, 1900, a young visionary doctor, Major Walter Reed, finished his preparations for a trip that would make him famous. Then from June 21–24 he traveled on the U.S.S. Sedgwick from New York to Cuba. Although Reed had long anticipated the trip because he wanted to do something that would “alleviate human suffering,” […]

20th Century, History, Science
Featured on June 18

The Great Molasses Flood by Deborah Kops


In the spring of 2012 several first-rate natural disaster books appeared, probably because of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Besides the Titanic books, Sally M. Walker wrote a thrilling account of the Halifax Explosion of 1917 in Blizzard of Glass. Our book of the day by Deborah Kops, The Great Molasses […]

20th Century, History, Science
Featured on May 8

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

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Last weekend Carnival took place  in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One of the last great folk festivals, the event continued until Shrove Tuesday. If, like me, you’d love to attend but missed it this year, pick up the book of the day, Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea, to celebrate Brazil and its people. […]

20th Century, Geography, Survival
Featured on February 17

The World’s Greatest Elephant by Ralph Helfer
Illustrated by Ted Lewin

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Elephant Appreciation Day, which took place yesterday, has been set aside to celebrate the “earth’s largest, most interesting, and most noble endangered land animal.” Certainly elephants have always had enormous appeal to children. In fact, circus founder P. T. Barnum once said, “When entertaining the public, it is best to have an elephant.” In 2006 […]

20th Century, Animals, Elephants, History
Featured on September 22

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

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

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald


Today has been designated Brother’s Day—a celebration of brotherhood for biological brothers, fraternity brothers, and brothers bonded by union affiliation or lifetime experience. As could be predicted, children’s books frequently focus on sibling relationships, both brothers and sisters. After all, in childhood these relationships loom large in our lives. When I think of brothers in […]

20th Century, Family, History, Religion/Spirituality
Featured on May 24

The Circuit by Francisco Jiménez

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May has been designated both Personal History Month and Latino Book Month. Both experiences can be found in one of the most remarkable autobiographies of the last twenty years, Francisco Jiménez’s The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child. Now a university professor, Jiménez began his journey toward United States citizenship as a […]

20th Century, Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, History, Latino, Multicultural
Featured on May 16

Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Illustrated by Brian Floca

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On May 11, 1894, Martha Graham was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the age of sixteen, she saw her first dance performance “and that night my fate was sealed.” In her early twenties Graham moved to Greenwich Village, New York, and joined the Follies, with assorted animal acts and chorus girls. In 1926 she started […]

20th Century, Dance, History, Women
Featured on May 11

Rascal by Sterling North


From May 1–7 we celebrate National Pet Week, with a theme this year of “Save a Life, Adopt a Pet.” Desiring a pet is almost a universal experience of childhood. Usually, the term pet bring to mind dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, or other domesticated animals. But, of course, a pet can be any animal that […]

20th Century, Animals, Award Winning, History, Newbery
Featured on May 6

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney


Starting tomorrow, we celebrate National Wildflower Week (May 6-12th), created by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, to “encourage the observations, cultivations and study of native wildflowers.” Today’s book, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, completely embodies the spirit of this week. In this story a spinster librarian travels around the world and eventually returns to […]

20th Century, Gardening, History, Nature
Featured on May 5

Escape! by Sid Fleischman

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On March 24, 1874, Harry Houdini was born in Budapest, Hungary. Some figures from history endlessly fascinate adults—and some remain perpetually interesting to children. Certainly Harry Houdini, magician, escape artist, performer, actor, and film producer, has garnered his share of biographies for children over the years. Newbery Award–winner Sid Fleischman, in one of his last […]

20th Century, History, Magic
Featured on March 24

Like the Willow Tree by Lois Lowry

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In honor of Women’s History Month, the book of the day is a title by veteran writer Lois Lowry, Like the Willow Tree. After a hiatus, the Dear America series, a historical fiction series told in diary formats, has been revitalized with this one of the first volumes. Among its many accomplishments, the book presents […]

20th Century, History, Religion/Spirituality, Women
Featured on March 14

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell


For authors and artists week, I’d like to talk about the most impressive author I ever worked with, Scott O’Dell. Scott was in his mid seventies and I was in my late twenties when we first met. A tall man, large in body, spirit, and charisma, he could tell stories like no one I had ever […]

20th Century, Award Winning, History, Multicultural, Native American, Newbery, True Story
Featured on February 6

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.