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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, 2014

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, 2014

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, 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

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

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

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, 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

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, 2014

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, 2014

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, 2014

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, 2013

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, 2013

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, 2013

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

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

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

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This week has been designated World Communication Week to remind us that computer access has made worldwide communication possible. Even this blog, read around the globe, and my national and international friendships on Facebook and Twitter would not be possible without all the technological breakthroughs that have sustained the Internet. If Twitter were a country, […]

Imagination
Featured on November 4, 2013

Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
Illustrated by Alan Daniel

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Around this time of year, I prepare myself for Halloween madness. I’ve never enjoyed scary nights or stories. So today my recommendation is for anyone who wants a quasi-horror story that uses the elements of horror but blends them with a lot of humor. First published in 1979, Deborah and James Howe’s Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale […]

Animals, Humor, Rabbits
Featured on October 28, 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

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
Illustrated by Barry Moser

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Today we celebrate the birthday of an illustrator who can list among his many accomplishments creating art for The Bible. Barry Moser was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then came East to teach. While living in western Massachusetts, he met and worked with Leonard Baskin, premier illustrator and printmaker. Moser himself became renowned […]

Animals
Featured on October 15, 2013

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by K.G. Campbell

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October is National Reading Group Month, and our author of the day, Kate diCamillo, has always been one of my favorite choices for reading groups. Now, I admit I am a sucker for a Kate DiCamillo story. From the beginning of her first book Because of Winn Dixie to the last page of Flora & […]

Animals, Squirrels
Featured on October 8, 2013

Redwoods by Jason Chin

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October 2, 1968 marks the establishment of California’s Redwood National Park, which protects slightly less than half of the remaining coast redwoods. Unfortunately, I have never personally seen one of these beauties, but hearing about the raging fires in Yosemite National Park in August and September led me to return to one of my favorite […]

Ecology, Nature, Science
Featured on October 2, 2013

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
Illustrated by Erin McGuire

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Continuing in the spirit of Read a New Book Month, today marks the publication of a book that I’ve been eager to share with Almanac readers: Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy. I thought Anne’s Breadcrumbs was a spectacular book. But I am ever more impressed with her storytelling abilities in The Real Boy. Oscar, an […]

Adventure, Magic, Quest
Featured on September 24, 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

Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade by Stephanie Greene
Illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson

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Around this time of year, many children head back to school—often feeling anxious and as though they are unequal to the task. Scary teachers or buildings may await them. What if they are not grown up enough to enter a new grade? Such is the dilemma of our heroine of the day, Posey, entering first […]

Family, School
Featured on August 26, 2013

Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay
Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont

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During the week of August 11–17 a relatively new cause is celebrated: feeding the pets of the homeless. The philosophy behind the Give a Dog a Bone campaign is that “No pet should go hungry or suffer.” In a book of the day, Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay, the heroine […]

Animals, Ducks, School
Featured on August 12, 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

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.