Monday, January 21, 2019

Book of the Week: We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices



Cheryl and Wade Hudson, editors 

Foreword by Ashley Bryan


Published by Crown, 2018
87 pages
ISBN: 978-0-525-58042-31


Age 8 and older



The intention throughout this volume is clear and focused: It reads like a love letter to Black and brown children. A gathering of poems, essays, short stories, and a wide range of artwork, the pieces include hard truths and hopes and dreams grounded in experience, memory, and imagination. “Kindness Is a Choice,” Jacqueline Woodson writes in a letter to her children. “Stay safe my child …. Come home to me each night,” writes Sharon Draper in “Prayers of the Grandmothers.” Ellen Oh’s childhood memories affirm that words have power—to hurt, yes, but also to change minds. “One day Papí drove me to school,” begins Tony Medina’s short story of the same name, in which the young narrator’s father is arrested by ICE. “There is always a storm,” writes Pat Cummings in her poem assuring young readers and listeners that “We’ve Got You.” Thirty written offerings are paired with 30 visual accompaniments in this collection featuring many authors and illustrators of color and from First/Native Nations. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Marla Frazee Wins 2019 Charlotte Zolotow Award


 (Read the full press release.)

Little Brown cover

Little Brown, written and illustrated by Marla Frazee, is the winner of the twenty-second annual Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book. The award is given by the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC), a library of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Little Brown was edited by Allyn Johnston and published in the United States in 2018 by Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. 


Do the other dogs not play with Little Brown because he’s cranky, or is he cranky because the other dogs don’t play with him? It’s a question examined with both humor and pathos in this marvelous picture book. In Frazee’s superb text, supported by equally fine, soft-hued pencil and gouache illustrations, a dramatic narrative crafted with wonderful language and artful pacing is full of hilariously spot-on dog behavior. But Little Brown’s isolation is heartbreaking, while the puzzlement of the other dogs and the “dilemma” they all face when Little Brown steals their toys and refuses to give them back makes for a complex look at social dynamics. All the dogs wonder whether, and how, things might be different, leading to a brilliant open ending. “Maybe tomorrow … they would know what to do.” A story that entertains, it also respects young readers and listeners, asking them to rise to the challenge of thinking about what might happen next, and to reflect on Little Brown’sconnection to their own lives in a picture book that is the antithesis of didactic.
The 2019 Zolotow Award committee named two Honor Books: 

Honey book cover
Honey, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein, edited by Nancy Paulsen, and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, is about a young bear in his second year who remembers honey, but must wait for it to be ready, in a narrative where every carefully chosen word impacts the rhythm and flow of a story in which timing (and appreciating each moment) is everything.

Saturday Is Swimming Day Book Cover
Saturday Is Swimming Day, written and illustrated by Hyewon Yum, edited by Kate Fletcher, and published by Candlewick Press, about a small girl’s anxiety over learning how to swim, her experience stated in simple, declarative sentences providing evocative descriptions of her feelings and actions as she gradually overcomes her fear with the help of a patient teacher.

 The 2019 Zolotow Award committee also cited nine titles as Highly Commended: 
  •  A BIG Mooncake for Little Star written and illustrated by Grace Lin (Little, Brown)
  • Carmela Full of Wishes written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson (G. P. Putnam Son’s / Penguin Random House)
  • The Day You Begin written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López (Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Random House)
  • Dreamers written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Neal Porter Books / Holiday House)
  • The Patchwork Bike written by Maxine Beneba Clarke, illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd (U.S. edition: Candlewick Press)
  • The Rough Patch written and illustrated by Brian Lies (Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins)
  • Thank You, Omu! written and illustrated by Oge Mora (Little Brown)
  • We Don’t Eat Our Classmates written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins (Disney / Hyperion)
  • Winter Is Here written by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek
(Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins).

Congratulations to all!


Monday, January 14, 2019

Book of the Week: Black Bird, Yellow Sun



by Steve Light

Published by Candlewick Press, 2018
16 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-9067-0

(Birth to age 3)

A deceptively simple board book, with just four words per page (two of which are always "black bird") is also quite elegant. From morning to night, a blackbird moves from page to page, each featuring part of the natural world that’s a different color. Logically organized from sun up (“yellow sun") to sundown ("blue moon"), the little black bird is shown from various perspectives throughout the day, sometimes flying, sometimes perched. The lines are clean and the shapes are clear in the textured collage artwork, so that a baby will always be able to find the black bird in its natural setting. It's rare for an eight-page-spread board book to offer such a high level of artistry and such an exquisite aesthetic. (KTH) ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, January 7, 2019

Book of the Week: Learning to Breathe



by Janice Lynn Mather


Published by Simon & Schuster, 2018
328 pages
ISBN: 978-1-5344-0601-8


Age 14 and older


Although she was raised mostly by her loving grandmother, everyone seems to expect 16-year-old, Black Bahamian Indy to follow in the footsteps of her mother, who has a drug addiction and cannot provide a stable home for her daughter. So when Indy moves to Nassau to live with her aunt and is raped by her cousin Gary, she keeps the resulting pregnancy a secret, afraid that her aunt will kick her out of the house. Struggling in school and in agony due to the trauma she has survived—and which she continues, horrifically, to experience at Gary’s hands—Indy spends a lot of time alone on the island. Stumbling upon a yoga retreat one day, she experiences the kindness of a few of its employees and slowly opens herself up to receiving the support that she deserves and so desperately needs. This is a heart-wrenching study of one vulnerable young woman who, with the help of a few others, summons the strength to speak her truth, to regain her footing, and to press on despite the violence she has endured. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 24, 2018

Book of the Weeks (December 24 and December 31): Winter Is Here

by Kevin Henkes
Illustrated by Laura Dronzek 


Published by Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2018
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-274718-1


Ages 3-6


Comforting illustrations with wintry hues—deep blues, bright blues, grays and whites—and cozy scenes featuring animals, brightly clad children, and snow and wind and ice, grace the pages of this picture book in which the lush acrylic artwork amplifies keen observations about the season expressed in the sparkling narrative. Winter is “falling …dripping … sticking ... reaching …crouching ….settling” in fresh, vivid descriptions. Winter sits softly (snow), but can also be hard (ice). It is inside and outside. Quiet and loud. “The wind howls in every language.” Winter is clothing: boots and vests and scarves and mittens and lots of zippers. And winter stays…and stays, until it “shrinks away bit by bit … peeking back then moving on.” To spring, of course. An artful picture book offering delight in the language, the images, and the harmony of their pairing. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 17, 2018

Book of the Week: Drum Roll, Please



by Lisa Jenn Bigelow


Published by HarperCollins, 2018
320 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-279114-6

Ages 10-13


Melly feels her world rocked in more ways than one in this novel steeped in authentic middle-school turmoil. Immediately before leaving for Camp Rockaway with her best friend Olivia, Melly’s parents announce their impending divorce. Still trying to absorb this news, Melly is plunged into the camp routine. A drummer, she is assigned to a band with three other young musicians, one of who is Adeline. In need of a friend and listening ear, Melly confides in Adeline about her parents’ divorce and is surprised to realize that she’s developing a crush on her new friend. (Olivia, meanwhile, has been neglecting Melly in favor of spending time with a cute boy in her own band.) With Adeline’s help, Melly learns to communicate her feelings about the divorce through a song for her band’s final performance. With a romance perfectly suited to preteen readers, the narrative deftly touches on issues of consent and leaves Melly excited about future self-discovery. The well-drawn music camp setting provides a unique backdrop for this touching portrayal of one girl’s growth over two momentous weeks. (MCT) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 10, 2018

Book of the Week: The Night Diary



by Veera Hiranandani

Dial, 2018

272 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2851-1

 

Ages 10-13


When Nisha and her twin brother Amil turn twelve, Nisha receives a notebook from her family’s beloved cook, Kazi.  She uses it as a diary, writing entries in the form of letters to her mother, who died when the twins were infants. Observant, sensitive Nisha is an excellent writer, but anxiety makes it difficult for her to speak. India has recently been freed from British rule, and when tensions among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs erupt in her hometown of Mirpur Khas, Nisha fears for her family’s safety. Nisha and Amil’s mother was Muslim, but their father and grandmother are Hindu, putting them at great risk when their part of India becomes Muslim Pakistan. Nisha observes that her “childhood would always have a line drawn through it, the before and the after.” Forced to leave their comfortable life—and Muslim Kazi—behind, the family flees on foot, setting off across the desert for the “new India” with only a few jugs of water in hand. They encounter many dangers on their harrowing journey, only to arrive at a place that is not home, and where they have nothing but one another. Nisha’s diary entries effectively communicate not only the profound pain of loss and separation faced by this family during a tumultuous period of Indian history, but also the comfort of learning how to express love and gratitude for one another. (MCT)  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center