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

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

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July marks Audio Book Month, a perfect time to listen to a title that will entertain the entire family. I owe the audio of the day to Alison Morris of Scholastic Book Clubs, who raved about Simon Jones’s rendition of The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud for Listening Library. How right she was. Now […]

Adventure, London, Magic
Featured on July 16

The Boggart by Susan Cooper


On May 23, 1935, Susan Cooper was born in England. While at Oxford, she listened to lectures by J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, who had set up the curriculum in English Literature and Language. Although this meant as a student that she didn’t read much written past 1832, it did give her a lot […]

England, Magic, Technology
Featured on May 23

Bigger than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder

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December has been designated Read a New Book Month. One of the best books of the last couple of years, Laurel Snyder’s Bigger than a Bread Box, features twelve-year-old Rebecca. Her life is suddenly torn in two when her mother takes Rebecca and her little brother, Lew, to live at her grandmother’s home in Atlanta, leaving […]

Family, Magic
Featured on December 16

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

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola


On September 15, 1934, in Meriden, Connecticut, a boy who would become one of the world’s best storytellers was born. Tomie dePaola always credited his Irish and Italian family for providing him with the material for many of his sagas. I don’t know if he came out of the womb spinning tales, but he claims […]

Award Winning, Caldecott, Food, Humor, Magic
Featured on September 15

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

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August has been designated Audio Book Appreciation Month. Certainly one of the great changes in children’s book publishing during my career has been the increase in superb audio recordings of novels. Since in August many families spend time in the car going to and from vacation spots, I am going to talk about my two […]

Adventure, London, Magic
Featured on August 17

The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski

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Today marks National Relaxation Day. We are encouraged to leave our stress-filled lives, kick back, put our feet up, and enjoy something. To me that sounds like an invitation to read an engrossing book. For a relaxing day, I would recommend picking up Marie Rutkoski’s series ideal for ten- to fourteen-year-olds that begins with The […]

History, London, Magic
Featured on August 15

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

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Today marks the birthday of the world’s best-known literary character. He has taken his place along with Sherlock Holmes and Winnie the Pooh as a household name. And he’s only been around since 1998. If you guessed that his name is Harry Potter, you are correct. Harry emerged in the mind of his creator J. […]

Adventure, Friendship, Magic
Featured on July 31

Skellig by David Almond

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July has been designated Make a Difference in the Life of a Child month. The right book for the right child at the right time always has and always will change lives. The book of the day is one that can be very powerful when it gets in a child’s hands at the right moment. […]

Imagination, Magic, Religion/Spirituality, Science
Featured on July 24

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

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Around this time of year we celebrate the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. This date looms large for the hero of our featured book, a kid who just can’t get a break. He’s never seen his father and lives with an odious and repellent stepfather when not away at boarding school for […]

Adventure, Magic, Mythology, Seasons, Summer
Featured on June 21

Half Magic by Edward Eager
Illustrated by N. M. Bodecker


“It began one day in summer about thirty years ago, and it happened to four children.” So begins the book of the day, a perfect story about summer. This book holds a unique place in the children’s book canon. It is the only one I know where the author admitted to copying, shamelessly, from another author […]

Adventure, Humor, Imagination, Magic, Seasons, Summer
Featured on May 31

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

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Toward the end of March, World Folk Tales and Fables Week has been set up to encourage children and adults to explore the lessons learned from folk tales and fables. I’d like to finish our celebration with one of the most popular retellings of a folk tale published in the last fifteen years. Gail Carson […]

Adventure, Award Winning, Fairy Tale, Magic, Newbery, Quest
Featured on March 27

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

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On March 26, 1908, Betty MacDonald was born in Boulder, Colorado. Because her father worked as a mining engineer, she spent many years of her childhood traveling around the West. Eventually settling in Seattle, MacDonald attended the University of Washington and wrote The Egg and I, a funny account of her married life on a […]

Family, Humor, Imagination, Magic
Featured on March 26

Escape! by Sid Fleischman

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On March 24, 1874, Harry Houdini was born in Budapest, Hungary. Some figures from history endlessly fascinate adults—and some remain perpetually interesting to children. Certainly Harry Houdini, magician, escape artist, performer, actor, and film producer, has garnered his share of biographies for children over the years. Newbery Award–winner Sid Fleischman, in one of his last […]

20th Century, History, Magic
Featured on March 24

Lloyd Alexander by Lloyd Alexander


On January 30,1924, Lloyd Alexander was born in Philadelphia. He knew from the age of fifteen that he wanted to be a writer, and for seventeen years he wrote for adults. Then in 1963, this charming, erudite author published his first children’s book, Time Cat, and 1964, his second, The Book of Three. His editor […]

Adventure, Award Winning, Magic, Newbery
Featured on January 30

Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan

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Today we celebrate Australia Day, when in 1788 the first settlement was established at Port Jackson, now part of Sydney. The Australian writing and illustrating community seems to me to be the most vibrant and original group of children’s book creators working any place in the world. In a few short years Australian writer Marcus […]

Adventure, Magic, Quest
Featured on January 26

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

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg


In 1985 a book appeared by Caldecott-winning artist Chris Van Allsburg that would immediately become a bestseller and over the years establish itself as a picture book ritually read and enjoyed by families during the Christmas season: The Polar Express. Chris came to his career as a children’s book writer through his work as a […]

Adventure, Christmas, Holidays, Magic, Trains, Transportation
Featured on December 25

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs


When this time of year comes around, I always think of one of my favorite books first published in 1978, which truly captures the joy of playing in the snow. Although comic-book format picture books and graphic novels rule today, when Raymond Briggs used the wordless, comic-book format in The Snowman, he broke with the […]

Adventure, Christmas, Holidays, Imagination, Magic, Seasons, Winter
Featured on December 23

The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

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Today we celebrate the winter solstice. On the solstice, one of the most appealing characters in classic children’s fantasy celebrates his eleventh birthday. The seventh son of a seventh son, he will be in for some pretty big surprises this holiday season. He learns that he is the last of the Old Ones, the Sign […]

Adventure, Magic, Other Worlds
Featured on December 21

C. S. Lewis by C. S. Lewis

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We are going to end the month with two birthday celebrations—one a writer, the other an illustrator. C. S. Lewis, today’s celebrant, was born on this day in 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. But he would live and write in Oxford, England, where he taught on the English faculty with his good friend and fellow author, […]

Adventure, Animals, Magic, Other Worlds
Featured on November 29

Savvy by Ingrid Law

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We all have at least one talent. November 24, Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day, allows all of us to acknowledge our own individual abilities. Whatever you do best, take some time today to recognize that talent. What if you knew that on a certain birthday, your thirteenth, you would be given a special talent or […]

Adventure, Award Winning, Family, Magic, Newbery
Featured on November 24

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers


On November 13, 1926, a short story appeared in a New Zealand newspaper, the Christchurch Sun, by a young writer, who had emigrated to England from Australia. It recounted the saga of an “underneath nurse” age seventeen, and her charges Jane, Michael, Barbara, and John. On a day out, she puts on gloves, tucks a […]

Adventure, Humor, Magic
Featured on November 13

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


On October 29, 1924, England and America’s bestselling children’s book writer died in New York. After leaving her native land, she lived for years in the United States, and a New York Times obituary mourned the passing of this beloved figure. She was, by way of an easy comparison, the J.K. Rowling of her day; […]

Gardening, Magic
Featured on October 29

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.