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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, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals by Ed Emberley

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Today marks the birthday of Ed Emberley. Ed was born in Malden, Massachusetts, graduated from the Massachusetts School of Art, and then painted signs for the army and worked in commercial illustration. In the late fifties he began publishing books with the then-Boston firm of Little Brown and Company. For Ed Emberley, working on books […]

Animals, Art, Nature
Featured on October 19, 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

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, 2012

Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

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August has been designated National Inventors Month. So often when we think of inventors, we think of dead white men. But in 2000, writer Catherine Thimmesh and illustrator Melissa Sweet published a book that changed that perception for me: Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women. Catherine sets the stage in the […]

History, Inventors, Science, Women
Featured on August 20, 2012

The Secret of the Yellow Death by Suzanne Jurmain

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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, 2012

The Great Molasses Flood by Deborah Kops

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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, 2012

Witches! by Rosalyn Schanzer

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The end of February can be brutal in New England. Certainly more than one inhabitant of the region has felt that powers of darkness have seized the barren land. And during the end of February 1692, the Reverend Samuel Parris and other ministers in Salem, Massachusetts, grilled two children, nine-year-old Betty Parris and her eleven-year-old […]

Award Winning, Colonial America, History, Politics, Religion/Spirituality, Sibert
Featured on February 29, 2012

Annotated Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie with notes by Maria Tatar

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On November 23, 1903, an already popular writer and playwright began the first draft of a play entitled “ANON” and set in the night nursery of the Darling family. A few years later, in 1911, he extended the script ideas of that play, Peter Pan, into a longer novel for children, Wendy and Peter. In […]

Adventure, Survival
Featured on November 23, 2011

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris

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I live in a highly literate, educated, and politically centrist town in Massachusetts. While others have been cutting school money, Westwood recently built a new library. The children’s staff here has to be one of the best I have ever seen in action, responsive to teachers and parents. For me personally, they have provided amazing […]

Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award
Featured on September 29, 2011

Bootleg by Karen Blumenthal

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On September 28, 1839, Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard was born in Churchville, New York. She would become the first corresponding secretary of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union; later as its president she became one of the most effective crusaders for two Constitutional amendments: the 18th (Prohibition) and the 19th (Women’s Suffrage). Willard is only one […]

Great Depression, History, Politics, Prohibition, Women, World War I
Featured on September 28, 2011

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, 2011

First Pitch by John Thorn

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On September 2, 1850, Albert Goodwill Spalding was born on a farm in Byron, Illinois. As a boy he began to play baseball in boarding school, and as an adult he became one of the great pitchers in America. Spalding brought four pennants to his Boston Red Stockings club before he headed to the Midwest […]

Baseball, History, Sports
Featured on September 2, 2011

The Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole
Illustrated by Bruce Degen

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Children around the country have either headed back to school or are about to do so. Much of the drama of these first days centers on the teacher: Who will he or she be? Will the teacher be nice or mean? Easy or hard? The best I can wish for these children is that they might […]

Adventure, School, Science
Featured on August 27, 2011

This is Paris by Miroslav Sasek

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At dawn on August 25, 1944, the Second French Armored Division entered Paris, ending the German occupation. Charles de Galle led a parade that day down the Champs Elysees. Although Hitler had ordered the destruction of the city, the occupying German officer ignored that decree and surrendered instead. The book of the day, This is […]

Geography, History, Paris
Featured on August 25, 2011

Pompeii Lost and Found by Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrated by Bonnie Christensen

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On this day in 79 A.D. an active volcano in southern Italy, Mount Vesuvius, erupted and destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Escaping the disaster, Pliny the Younger wrote:   “[B]lack and horrible clouds, broken by sinuous shapes of flaming winds, were opening with long tongues of fire.” What a stylist! Modern authors can […]

Ancient, Art, History
Featured on August 24, 2011

An American Plague by Jim Murphy

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On August 3, 1793, a young French sailor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, contracted a virulent fever, which worsened before he died. Newspaper accounts in the new nation’s capital did not even give his name, and everyone went about their usual business in the City of Brotherly Love. But from that moment on, an invisible killer stalked […]

Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, History, Newbery, Science, Sibert
Featured on August 3, 2011

Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling

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Today marks the birthday of one of America’s greatest author and illustrators. Holling Clancy Holling worked on developing his signature style for forty years before the release of his classic, Paddle-to-the-Sea, in 1941. For this book he drew on his years as a Michigan farm boy, a sailor on the Great Lakes, an anthropological researcher […]

Geography, History, Multicultural, Native American, Nature
Featured on August 2, 2011

Zoo-ology by Joëlle Jolivet

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On July 1, 1874, the first zoo in the United States opened its doors to visitors in Philadelphia. A quarter for adults and a dime for children allowed visitors to view 813 animals housed there. Three thousand people traveled by foot, horse and buggy, or steamboat to look at the wonders. Thousands of books about […]

Art, Nature, Science, Zoology
Featured on July 1, 2011

Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures by Menno Metselaar and Ruud van der Rol, translated by Arnold J.Pomerans

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On June 12, 1929, a young German girl was born. Had history played out differently, she might well have been celebrating her 82nd birthday today. Anne Frank lived in extraordinary times—and in recording those times, she ultimately became the world’s most famous young writer. Scores of books providing supplementary reading for The Diary of Anne […]

Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, History, Jewish, Multicultural, Social Conscience, World War II
Featured on June 12, 2011

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, 2011

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, 2011

Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley
Illustrated by Nic Bishop

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April 29 has been designated Save the Frogs Day, a day of amphibian education. Although there will be an event in Washington, D.C., the third annual Save the Frogs Day organizers encourage people to recognize the day in their own communities. Their website contains lesson plans and activities that can be adapted by teachers and […]

Animals, Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Frogs, Nature
Featured on April 29, 2011

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.