Step Gently Out by Helen Frost
Illustrated by Rick Lieder

, ,

In April we’ve been celebrating Poetry Month. I actually wish every day were Poetry Day for children and that a poems were part of their daily literary diet. In the last couple of years, single poetry volumes for children ages two through eight—the work of Joyce Sidman and books like Marilyn Singer’s Mirror Mirror—have increased. […]

Animals, Insects, Nature
Featured on April 24

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine A. Applegate
Illustrated by Patricia Castelao


April has been designated Pets Are Wonderful Month (PAWS), which all pets are, of course. As I write, my dear Lance snoozes not far from my feet. They provide inspiration and attention. People have kept all kinds of animals, as pets or objects of curiosity, over the years. And the treatment of these animals lies […]

Animals, Social Conscience
Featured on April 18

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond


March has been set aside to celebrate the idea that “Humorists are Artists.” Funny books are among the hardest things to write for children—and often the writers get less respect than their more serious counterparts. I am, therefore, always happy when the Almanac can celebrate humor and humorists. Published in 1958, Michael Bond’s A Bear […]

Animals, Bears, London
Featured on March 26

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

, ,

It has been an unusually difficult winter in New England this year, with several feet of snow arriving in the region. Although my Bernese Mountain Dog Lance has enjoyed every flake, I find myself longing for the first day of spring. That sense of joy, of the brown, dry earth coming to life has been […]

Animals, Nature, Seasons, Spring
Featured on March 20

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

, ,

On February 21, 1916, the German High Command launched an offensive in Verdun, France. It was to become the longest battle of World War I, ending on December 15 of that year, claiming a million men. No matter how many movies I watch or books I read, I still have trouble wrapping my mind around […]

Animals, History, Horses, World War I
Featured on February 21

The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney

, ,

Today marks a new holiday, Take Your Child to the Library Day. Patterned after Take Your Child to the Bookstore Day, the holiday emphasizes one of the most important trips that can occur for any child: going to a library, securing a library card, and learning to feel comfortable in a library. No matter how extensive your home […]

Animals, Hamster, School
Featured on February 4

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth

, ,

Today Japan celebrates Coming of Age day, a ceremony to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority: twenty years old. Well, for those who aren’t twenty, or those who are but like to remain child-like in spirit, our book of the day, John J. Muth’s Zen Shorts, explores the Japanese […]

Animals, Bears, Religion/Spirituality
Featured on January 9

The Money We’ll Save by Brock Cole


In December many hunt for books both to read and to give as gifts. Well, if you are hunting for a picture book for four- to eight-year-olds and could use a good laugh, I recommend the book of the day, Brock Cole’s The Money We’ll Save. I laughed so much the first time that I […]

19th century, Animals, Birds, Christmas, History, Holidays
Featured on December 11

The Mitten by Jan Brett

, ,

December 6 marks Mitten Tree Day; to celebrate everyone is encouraged to decorate a Christmas tree with mittens (the tree and mittens can be real or cut out from brightly colored paper). As I write this, I am packing to travel to Canada and Seattle to present a workshop on children’s classics. One of the […]

Animals, Clothing, Folktale, Seasons, Winter
Featured on December 6

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klasssen

, ,

Today we celebrate International Hat Day.  I personally love, wear, buy, and covet hats—all kinds of hats. Since the book of the day I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen was published last year, it has already gained an enormous number of fans. Klassen is a master of the minimalist form. Starting with sumptuous […]

Animals, Bears, Humor, Rabbits
Featured on November 25

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig


While I was vacationing in the Rangeley Lakes area of Maine in October a sign caught my eye: “Wilhelm Reich Museum.” Although I could not get in, I was intrigued to see the location of the laboratory of the radical psychoanalyst who worked with Sigmund Freud. While there I thanked him silently for his little-known […]

Animals, Award Winning, Caldecott, Magic
Featured on November 14

Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann

, ,

Tonight we celebrate All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, a time of carved pumpkins, parties, or door-to-door canvassing in costume for treats. In my childhood the latter activity was quite casual, and costumes often consisted only of sheets with eye holes. But in more recent years Halloween costumes have become elaborate, often prepared with great care. […]

Animals, Dogs, Halloween, Holidays
Featured on October 31

Carl Goes Shopping by Alexander Day

, ,

In October 1992, the board book edition of a title that had already gained a devoted following of picture book fans appeared, Alexandra Day’s Carl Goes Shopping. Often publishers eager for titles for the very young frequently republish material in board books that have originally appeared as standard picture books. For the Carl books, wordless […]

Animals, Dogs
Featured on October 20

Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss


In October 1940 a new children’s book author and illustrator published his fourth book, one destined to become a classic. Admittedly since he had been rejected some twenty times for his first book, and then only been picked up by a small press, Vanguard, he did not necessarily seem to be poised to become America’s […]

Animals, Elephants, Humor
Featured on October 19

Midnight Fox by Betsy Byars


For our last book for Great Books Week, I will look at a classic by Betsy Byars, published in 1968, The Midnight Fox. In her career, Betsy wrote picture books, easy readers, historical fiction, and fantasies; she won the Newbery Award for The Summer of the Swans. But The Midnight Fox, a book about a […]

Animals, Foxes, Seasons, Summer
Featured on October 8

Arthur’s Nose by Marc Brown

, ,

Today for Great Books Week (October 6-12) , I’d like to look at a modest picture book that launched an empire: Marc Brown’s Arthur’s Nose. In 1976 a failed television weatherman, Marc Brown, published his first picture book under the astute guidance of Emilie McLeod of Atlantic Monthly Press. Emilie, one of those most respected […]

Animals, Friendship, Humor
Featured on October 7

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Paul Galdone

, ,

For the upcoming Great Books Week, I want to look at the work of Paul Galdone. In his lifetime, Paul received very little critical praise for his books, although he did garner two Caldecott Honors for Eve Titus’s Anatole and Anatole and the Cat. Beginning in the fifties, he illustrated the work of others for […]

Animals, Folktale
Featured on October 5

On the Farm by David Elliott
Illustrated by Holly Meade

, ,

Since the eighties the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi has been honored with World Farm Animals Day. If I were to pick a single book that celebrates living farm animals, it would have to be On the Farm, an inspired collaboration between poet David Elliott and illustrator Holly Meade. David once actually worked on a farm—although […]

Featured on October 2

The Sailor Dog by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by Garth Williams


On October 1, 1942, a brave new experiment in publishing was launched as collaboration between Simon & Schuster and Western Printing and Lithograph Company. The project was described as “a new series of 25 cent books for children,” with an initial print run of 600,000 copies each. Carried in independent bookstores, these volumes also made […]

Animals, Dogs, Sailing, Sports
Featured on October 1

The Rabbits’ Wedding by Garth Williams


Sometimes, after a controversy has swarmed around a book, it is almost impossible to see it as the author intended. That is true of today’s book for Banned Books Week (September 22-28), Garth Williams’s The Rabbits’ Wedding—one of the next major picture books, after The Story of Ferdinand to create an incredible ruckus. At its […]

Animals, Rabbits
Featured on September 30

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber


Today is the birthday of one of the nicest human beings I ever had the chance to work with, Bernie Waber. A quiet, unassuming man, Bernie had a gentle sense of humor—one that he relied on for books like Ira Sleeps Over and Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. Born in Philadelphia, Bernie moved frequently during his childhood […]

Animals, Humor
Featured on September 27

Art Dog by Thacher Hurd


For National Dog Week, which began yesterday, I’d like to look at a highly original and amusing protagonist, Thacher Hurd’s Art Dog.  In terms of children’s book, Thacher Hurd has lived a charmed life. He was the son of not only one, but two, great children’s book creators—writer Edith Thacher Hurd and artist Clement Hurd, […]

Animals, Art, Dogs
Featured on September 23

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

, ,

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

Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman


The heroes of our book of the day do not even have names. But the canines in P. D. Eastman’s Go, Dog. Go!, an offering for National Dog Week, which takes place the last week of September, are some of the fastest, and funniest, dogs to appear in a children’s book. After the success of […]

Animals, Dogs, Humor
Featured on September 20

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel


September has been designated Happy Cat Month. But the cat featured in our book of the day isn’t really happy. In fact, her owners have found a way to make her extremely miserable—by giving Bad Kitty a bath. I believe, however, that Nick Bruel, Bad Kitty’s creator, must certainly be laughing as he works on […]

Animals, Cats, Humor
Featured on September 17

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

, ,

September has been designated World Animal Remembrance Month—and today I’m going to talk about one of the dogs most loved by the preschool set, Eric Hill’s Spot. It is hard to believe that this pooch has only been around for thirty-one years. The ongoing saga of Spot began not with Spot himself, but his mother […]

Animals, Dogs
Featured on September 16

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak


Born in Denmark on September 13, 1920, Else Holmelund Minarik came to the United States when she was four. At first she hated English, the new language that she had to learn, but she became devoted to it—and to teaching first graders how to read words that had once perplexed her. As she observed her […]

Animals, Bears, Family, Humor
Featured on September 13

Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant


September is World Animal Remembrance Month, and yesterday marked National Pet Memorial Day. One of life’s most heart-wrenching experiences, both for children and adults, is without question the death of a beloved pet. So I’d like to take today to remember and honor a very special dog. I wasn’t able to have a dog until […]

Animals, Death, Dogs
Featured on September 12

Swimmy by Leo Lionni


September has been set aside as a month to “Be Kind to Authors and Editors.” On the Almanac, I could use that as my moto 365 days of the year. Authors and editors are the people who make our best books possible, who work to provide quality content for children, and they deserve kindness and […]

Animals, Award Winning, Caldecott, Fish, Social Conscience
Featured on September 10

Amos and Boris by William Steig


“On the sixth of September, with a very calm sea, he waited till the high tide had almost reached his boat; then, using his most savage strength, he just managed to push the boat into the water, climb on board, and set sail.” Who is our sailor with savage strength? A mouse named Amos; his […]

Adventure, Animals, Mice
Featured on September 6

Pinkerton, Behave! by Steven Kellogg


September has been designated World Animal Remembrance Month. So since I like to think about dogs, I’m going to feature some famous dog protagonists who deserve to be remembered: Spot, Art Dog, the unnamed heroes of Go, Dog. Go! and Steven Kellogg’s irrepressible Pinkerton. Possibly September should just be designated Steven Kellogg appreciation month. Steven […]

Animals, Dogs, Humor
Featured on September 3

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.