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The Doll People by Ann M. Martin
Illustrated by Brian Selznick

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Tomorrow marks the publication of the fourth installment of Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin’s The Doll People series, The Doll People Set Sail. Since, for some inexplicable reason, I have not talked about the original book, published in 2000, on the Almanac, today seemed appropriate to sing its praises. Many consider The Doll People […]

Dolls, Family, Toys
Featured on October 13

Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill by Otfried Preussler

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September is Library Card Sign Up Month, and I hope everyone who reads the Almanac has such a card. I personally owe the Westwood (MA) Public Library an invaluable debt; every book I have written would have been impossible without them. For several years, our book of the day—Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill by Otfried […]

History, Religion/Spirituality, World War II
Featured on September 29

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
Illustrated by Sonny Liew

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September has been designated a month to be kind to editors and writers, which is always good advice. One of the writers and artists I have not mentioned enough on the Almanac, Gene Luen Yang, is our hero of the day. Those who have had a chance to meet this charismatic and charming creator in […]

Asian American, History, Imagination, Multicultural
Featured on September 22

Brave Chicken Little by Robert Byrd

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August has been designated Get Ready for Kindergarten month, so this month’s Almanac entries focus on books that discuss the kindergarten experience. When I think about what reading heritage all kindergarten-bound children should be familiar with, I think of folklore and fairy tales. Robert Byrd’s Brave Chicken Little, a variation on the familiar tale, was […]

Animals, Fairy Tale
Featured on August 28

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

Half A Chance by Cynthia Lord

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One of my most cherished summer memories centers on reading. In it, I’m nine years old, and I have just returned from the Marietta, Ohio, public library with my grandmother and a pile of books. As I settle into a favorite chair to read, I know I will have days of uninterrupted time to go […]

Family, Friendship, Seasons, Summer
Featured on July 14

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

Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge

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June has been designated Rebuild Your Life Month. In Ron Koertge’s extraordinary book Coaltown Jesus, the protagonist, fourteen-year-old Walker, who lives in Coaltown, Illinois, does indeed need to rebuild his life. Two months ago his brother Noah died at age seventeen, and his mother hasn’t stopped crying. Walker struggles with guilt, believing that he might […]

Poetry, Religion/Spirituality
Featured on June 16

Our Solar System by Seymour Simon

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On May 19, 1961, Venera 1 became the first man-made object to fly by another planet, Venus, as part of the ongoing exploration of Earth’s solar system. May not only marks this occasion but is also the month we celebrate Get Caught Reading Month . Together these two facts make me think of Seymour Simon and […]

Science
Featured on May 19

Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber

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This week we celebrate the annual observance of Children’s Book Week. In April, an exhibit of the work of Bernard Waber opened at the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts. About a hundred people attended the opening, including a roster of writers and illustrators who had known and loved Bernie Waber. Meeting Bernie’s […]

Family, Toys
Featured on May 12

World Rat Day by J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Anna Raff

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Today I would like to wish a happy birthday to J. Patrick Lewis. Among the many things Pat and I share in common is a Hoosier childhood; he grew up with a twin brother in Gary, Indiana, and attended Indiana University and Ohio State, where he received his doctorate in economics. But Pat left the […]

Animals, Holidays, Poetry
Featured on May 5

What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

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All month we have been celebrating National Poetry Month. As I mentioned in the essay on Firefly July, a large number of quality poetry picture books have started to appear over the last year or so. My mentor once told me that publishing trends are like sunspots—things come and go for no earthly reason. Well, […]

Feelings, Poetry
Featured on April 28

Pug and Other Animal Poems by Valerie Worth
Illustrated by Steve Jenkins

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April is National Poetry Month; on the Almanac site I have already talked about one of my favorite books of poetry, Valerie Worth’s All the Small Poems and Fourteen More. Today let’s look at a picture book of Worth’s poems illustrated by Steve Jenkins, Pug and Other Animal Poems. A graduate of Swarthmore who worked […]

Animals, Poetry
Featured on April 21

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems by Paul B. Janeczko
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

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April is, of course, National Poetry Month, and there is good news to report this year. For a period of time, well-chosen and well-illustrated poetry compilations were as rare as hen’s teeth in the children’s book world, mainly because of the costs of poetry permissions. But recently, thanks to the success of poetry picture books, […]

Poetry, Seasons
Featured on April 14

The Glassblower’s Children by Maria Gripe
Illustrated by Harald Gripe

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This week, from April 8-10, marks the London Book Festival, a huge international gathering of publishers who exchange rights for books. At the end of March, children’s book publishers gathered in Bologna, Italy, for the Bologna Book Festival, where the Hans Christian Andersen Medal was announced. In honor of international book exchange I’d like to […]

Folktale
Featured on April 7

Calvin Coconut #9: Extra Famous by Graham Salisbury
Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

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March has been designated Humorists Are Artists Month. I totally agree with this sentiment. So often, when children are asked what kind of book they want to read, they respond, “a funny book.” And yet the craft of making this type of book often gets overlooked and is rarely awarded. So today I’d like to […]

Humor
Featured on March 24

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

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

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

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola M. Schaefer
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

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February has been designated Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month. Of course, any time we connect children with a good book, seeds are being planted. But certainly children of the twenty-first century will need both math and science skills for the duration of their lives, and exciting books in this area are far too hard […]

Animals, Science
Featured on February 17

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

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

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

The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud

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From January 19–25, we celebrate Hunt for Happiness Week. A perfect book for this week has been sitting on my shelf for months: Benjamin Chaud’s The Bear’s Song. A large picture book at 14 ½ inches tall by 9 ¾ inches wide, The Bear’s Song first appeared in France and has been published in the […]

Animals, Bears, Imagination
Featured on January 20

The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson
Illustrated by Fiona Robinson

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January has been designated National Book Blitz Month, which is a month-long campaign that aims to encourage reading. If you are hunting for an author who will make your worries disappear and who will allow you to cuddle up with one good book after another, then look no further than the British writer Eva Ibbotson. […]

Humor
Featured on January 13

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

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Today we celebrate a little-recognized holiday, “Thank Goodness It’s Monday,” and an event that lasts for all of January, The Celebration of Life. These two seemingly incongruous observances remind me of one of my favorite picture books of 2013, Peter Brown’s Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. Now, for want of a better term, I am a […]

Animals, Humor
Featured on January 6

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

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For Read a New Book Month, today I recommend one of 2013’s real gems, Kevin Henkes’s The Year of Billy Miller. Henkes has always shifted between picture books that delight young readers, such as Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse and novels for readers grades five and up like Olive’s Ocean. But in The Year of Billy […]

Family, Humor, School
Featured on December 23

How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Team of Hired Sportsmen by Russell Hoban
Illustrated by Quentin Blake

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Today on the Almanac, I send birthday greetings to Sir Quentin Blake, born outside of London. While still a teenager, he began contributing to Punch magazine. After studying English at Cambridge, he took life-drawing classes at the Chelsea Art School and, in 1960, began a glorious career as a children’s book illustrator—one that has resulted […]

Humor, Imagination, Sports
Featured on December 16

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

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December has been designated Read a New Book Month. Often in December, we hunt for something recently published that will make the perfect gift. Now, I admit that I favor dog books. And my readers have been patient with me as I rhapsodize over titles like Love that Dog or Homer, month after month. But […]

Animals, Cats, Humor, Imagination, Technology
Featured on December 2

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

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

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.