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 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

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


During the summer months, I often look at books that conjure up summer vacations and settings. Our book of the day, E. Lockhart’s recently published We Were Liars, does exactly this. Exploring the world of the extremely rich, this realistic novel is set on a privately held island off the coast of Massachusetts where four friends, […]

Family, Seasons, Summer
Featured on August 11

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

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

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss by Philip Nel


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

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

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

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

Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson

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Today I’m looking at another audio book, like The Golden Compass created by Listening Library, for Audio Book Appreciation Month. M. T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: The Pox Party has had a profound effect on good seventh and eighth grade readers, although it may be most appreciated by high school students and […]

African American, History, Multicultural, Revolutionary War, Science
Featured on August 26

Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers

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Today marks the birthday of a man who calls his autobiography Bad Boy. But for the past forty years the children’s book field has considered Walter Dean Myers a “Good and Great Man.” Possibly that should be the title for the second volume of his autobiography. Myers initially made his mark when he entered the […]

African American, Family, History, Multicultural, New York
Featured on August 12

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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Today we celebrate the birthday of a writer who had no intention of crafting a book for children—nor was her classic published as one. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s The Yearling appeared on the Scribner adult list in 1938. Edited by the legendary Maxwell Perkins, who also worked with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, The Yearling became […]

Animals, Family, Nature
Featured on August 8

Lost & Found by Shaun Tan

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Over the last week we have been exploring superb books about our furry friend, the bunny rabbit. This year a book by Shaun Tan, Lost & Found, takes an entirely original look at this beloved creature. Containing three separate books that were previously unavailable in the United States, Lost & Found presents The Red Tree, […]

History, Politics, Social Conscience, Trendsetting
Featured on July 20

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel

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July 1 was Canada Day and in its honor I’m celebrating two Canadian authors and events this month. On July 5 the Almanac featured Tim Wynne-Jones. Today we’ll look at another Canadian writer, Kenneth Oppel. I first encountered his work in the Airborn series and loved his voice, imagination, and ability to write page-turning science fiction. […]

Family, Science, Social Conscience
Featured on July 7

The Wall by Peter Sís

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On June 17, 1969, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, ten months after the Soviet Union invaded the city with tanks, the Beach Boys gave a concert in Lucerna Hall. Although police with dogs waited nearby, in this dark time the American band provided “a glimmer of hope.” Peter Sís, recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, captured these […]

Autobiography, Award Winning, Caldecott, Cold War, History, Sibert
Featured on June 17

The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy by James Cross Giblin

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On June 9, 1954, a lawyer from Boston, Joseph Welch, confronted the most feared man in the United States with the cry “Have you left no sense of decency?” These words marked the beginning of the end of Senator Joe McCarthy, a man who had ruined the careers and lives of countless Americans, and his […]

Cold War, History, Politics
Featured on June 9

Tom Feelings by Tom Feelings

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On May 19, 1933, Tom Feelings was born in Brooklyn, New York. An African-American, he chose to spend many years of his adult life in Africa, seeking to understand his heritage. As an artist and picture book illustrator, he presented what he discovered about African culture and history. While in Africa in the 1960s, Feelings […]

African American, Award Winning, Caldecott, History, Multicultural, Slavery
Featured on May 19

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

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

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In an ongoing effort to promote books by Latinos, the Association of American Publishers has designated May as Latino Book Month. During May they hope booksellers, librarians, and teachers will encourage people in their communities to read Latino books in both English and Spanish. Later in the month we’ll look at a book by Francisco […]

Award Winning, Family, Great Depression, History, Latino, Multicultural, Pura Belpré
Featured on May 12

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin

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Born on May 9, 1906, in West Haven, Connecticut, Eleanor Estes worked in the New York Public Library until her first book, The Moffats, was published in 1941. Although she won the Newbery Award for Ginger Pye in 1951, Estes’s earlier book, The Hundred Dresses, has emerged as one of our most unusual and powerful […]

School, Social Conscience
Featured on May 9

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

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On May 1 we celebrate a relatively new holiday, Immigration Day. Except for Native Americans, the United States is a nation of immigrants; consequently, hundreds of books for children present the experience of our ancestors from different perspectives. But none enable readers to experience the emotions of an immigrant to a strange country as brilliantly as Shaun […]

Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Social Conscience
Featured on May 1

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

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From the shadows, Powell and Herold watched Seward's doctors leave. The house was quiet now. They watched the gaslights go dim in several rooms, indicating that the occupants were settling in for the night. Powell handed his horse to Herold and walked across the street to the secretary's front door. He rang the bell. Herold scanned up and down the block as he stood watch, keeping their horses ready. On the first floor of the house, a black servant named William Bell hurried to answer the door.Late-night callers, mostly messengers, were not unusual. There was no reason why the servant should not open that door.

Civil War, History
Featured on April 13

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

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For our celebration of mysteries that began last week, let’s look at one of our best-written mysteries for young readers, Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke, first published in the United States in 1987. With this book, Pullman, a former schoolteacher raised in Rhodesia, Australia, London, and Wales, launched his career as a writer […]

History, Victorian
Featured on March 19

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

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March has been set aside to recognize the contribution of small presses to our literary heritage. After I had finished selecting books for 100 Best Books for Children, I went back to calculate the percentage that had originally been published by small or independent publishing houses. 10 percent! An amazing figure when you realize that […]

Adventure, Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Quest
Featured on March 16

Blizzard by Jim Murphy

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On March 11, 1888, a record blizzard hit the East Coast. Although parts of the country have seen record snow falls this year, most areas have snow-removal equipment and constant weather monitoring to lessen the impact of Mother Nature. But such was not always the case, as Jim Murphy relates in his compelling story about […]

History, New York, Seasons, Winter
Featured on March 11

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

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On March 4, 1791, Vermont became the 14th state admitted to the Union. Certainly at the time, the event did not seemed connected to the children’s book community. But by the beginning of the twenty-first century, Vermont had emerged as one of the best environments for those who create books for children and young adults. […]

Award Winning, Great Depression, History, Newbery
Featured on March 4

Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman

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Today is the birthday of Charles Darwin. He has the distinction of being not only one of the most controversial figures of his era but also someone who still causes discord two hundred years later. Or more accurately, his theories have been controversial—often obscuring Darwin the human being. Around Darwin’s 200th birthday some excellent books began […]

19th century, History, Religion/Spirituality, Science, Zoology
Featured on February 12

Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

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Letter writing week, celebrating the often-forgotten pleasure of sending a hand-written note, takes place this year from January 9-15. If any book might inspire young readers ages eleven to fourteen, to pick up their pens and start composing, it will be the book of the day, Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery & Cecelia. Although […]

Adventure, British, History, Magic
Featured on January 14

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

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On January 1, 1735, Paul Revere, patriot, silversmith, and engraver was baptized in Boston’s North End. Although made famous by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” our birthday boy’s story has attracted many fine writers over the years, including one of the descendants of Samuel Adams, the organizer of the Sons […]

Award Winning, History, Newbery, Revolutionary War
Featured on January 1

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

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On December 2, 1942, the Manhattan Project initiated the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Less than three years later, a group of scientists stood near Alamogordo, New Mexico, to watch the first nuclear explosion. One of them, J. Robert Oppenheimer would later say, “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people […]

Cold War, History
Featured on December 2

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Illustrated by Keith Thompson

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The genre of science fiction has always provided endless opportunities for writers—as well as endless memories for the young people who read their work. Today marks the first interracial kiss on TV, between Captain James Kirk and Lt. Uhura of Star Trek. Tomorrow in 1963 the BBC broadcast the first episode of Doctor Who, the […]

Adventure, Technology
Featured on November 22

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.