Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge

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June has been designated Rebuild Your Life Month. In Ron Koertge’s extraordinary book Coaltown Jesus, the protagonist, fourteen-year-old Walker, who lives in Coaltown, Illinois, does indeed need to rebuild his life. Two months ago his brother Noah died at age seventeen, and his mother hasn’t stopped crying. Walker struggles with guilt, believing that he might […]

Poetry, Religion/Spirituality
Featured on June 16

World Rat Day by J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Anna Raff


Today I would like to wish a happy birthday to J. Patrick Lewis. Among the many things Pat and I share in common is a Hoosier childhood; he grew up with a twin brother in Gary, Indiana, and attended Indiana University and Ohio State, where he received his doctorate in economics. But Pat left the […]

Animals, Holidays, Poetry
Featured on May 5

What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski


All month we have been celebrating National Poetry Month. As I mentioned in the essay on Firefly July, a large number of quality poetry picture books have started to appear over the last year or so. My mentor once told me that publishing trends are like sunspots—things come and go for no earthly reason. Well, […]

Feelings, Poetry
Featured on April 28

Pug and Other Animal Poems by Valerie Worth
Illustrated by Steve Jenkins


April is National Poetry Month; on the Almanac site I have already talked about one of my favorite books of poetry, Valerie Worth’s All the Small Poems and Fourteen More. Today let’s look at a picture book of Worth’s poems illustrated by Steve Jenkins, Pug and Other Animal Poems. A graduate of Swarthmore who worked […]

Animals, Poetry
Featured on April 21

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems by Paul B. Janeczko
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet


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

My Mother Goose by David McPhail


This week the holiday shopping season begins in earnest, and Saturday marks Small Business Saturday. Author Sherman Alexie has spearheaded a movement this year for independent bookstores, which he has named Indies First, by asking authors to help sell books in bookstores: “We book nerds will become booksellers.” And so many of us will help […]

Featured on November 25

Book of Animal Poetry by J. Patrick Lewis

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April 15 is, of course, tax day—but I have never found a suitable book on the subject for the Almanac. Some concerns really are not appropriate for children. Instead I will focus on a perfect title for Poetry Month, J. Patrick Lewis’s Book of Animal Poetry. In March at the Charlotte Huck Festival in Redlands, […]

Animals, Science, Zoology
Featured on April 15

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Carin Berger


Happy April Fools’ Day! As someone quite gullible, I find this day taxing. But since April is also Poetry Month, I have a reason to celebrate today. In a new offering that will appeal to both adults and children, Jack Prelutsky has teamed up with the talented Carin Berger to create a book that provides […]

Animals, Art, Science
Featured on April 1

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

Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by Josée Masse

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On October 3rd we celebrated National Poetry Day. Normally people set aside the month of April to celebrate poetry, but I actually think children’s poetry should be honored at least once a month. Even for children who think they don’t like to read, a poem can be a magical entry into the literary world. I […]

Fairy Tale
Featured on October 6

On the Farm by David Elliott
Illustrated by Holly Meade

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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

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot
Illustrated by Edward Gorey


In the 1930s, an author who called himself “Old Possum” sent his godchildren (Tom Faber, Alison Tandy, Susan Wolcott, and Susanne Morley) a series of poems about cats. Playful, irreverent, and brilliantly written, these fourteen poems (a fifteenth “Cat Morgan Introduces Himself” appeared in 1952) were published in England by Faber and Faber in September […]

Animals, Cats, Humor, Imagination
Featured on June 28

His Shoes Were Far Too Tight by Daniel Pinkwater
Illustrated by Calef Brown


This week, on June 10, in Australia, Belieze, Cayman Islands, and Fiji they celebrated the “Queen’s Official Birthday.” Queen Elizabeth II actually was born on April 21. Celebrating the Queen’s Official Birthday on a day when she wasn’t born would be just the kind of corkscrew logic that our English author of the day, Edward Lear, […]

Animals, Humor, Imagination
Featured on June 13

All the Small Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth
Illustrated by Natalie Babbitt


For Poetry Month, we’ve looked at some great poets—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Jack Prelutsky, and Joyce Sidman—and some individual volumes like Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog. I’d like to conclude the festivities of this month by celebrating one of the twentieth century’s finest poets for children, Valerie Worth. After graduating from Swarthmore College, Worth moved to […]

Animals, Nature, Seasons
Featured on April 20

Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Illustrated by Charles Santore

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I must admit that today is truly one of my favorite holidays, if not my absolute favorite, of the year. Although I try to avoid being “Boston centric” in the Almanac, I have lived in or near the city for more than forty years. Writers often get told to write about what they know—and today […]

History, Revolutionary War
Featured on April 18

My Dog May Be a Genius by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by James Stevenson


April marks National Poetry Month and on April 18 we celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day, a day much beloved by school children and poetry enthusiasts. The idea behind the event is quite simple: select a poem that you love and carry it with you today to share with classmates, coworkers, family, and friends. Activities […]

Animals, Dogs, Humor
Featured on April 14

This Little Piggy by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

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April is National Poetry and later in the month we celebrate the Week of the Young Child (WOYC). More information and a handbook can be found at the National Association for Education of Young Children website. What are the books that introduce poetry to the young and that every young child should know? I am often […]

Animals, Pigs
Featured on April 10

Joyce Sidman by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Rick Allen

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Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month takes place in April. The Academy lists a variety of projects, including a Poem-A-Day, where new poetry is e-mailed to those who register. Like the rest of the country, we’ll be celebrating National Poetry Month on the Almanac and will recognize Poem in […]

Animals, Award Winning, Newbery
Featured on April 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.