Monday, January 25, 2016

Book of the Week: Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook

Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook

by Anne Vittur Kennedy

Published by Candlewick Press, 2015
32 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7417-5


Ages 4-8

A how-to handbook offering sage advice from an experienced farm dog begins, “Here’s the first thing you need to know: The rooster wakes the farmer early in the morning. That’s his job. That’s not your job. Don’t wake the farmer. You will really, really want to wake the farmer … If you DO wake the farmer, you can get a biscuit just to go away.” Each lesson proves to be a slight variation on this theme as Ragweed, one of the most entertaining and authentic canine narrator’s ever to speak from the pages of a picture book, lays out who does what on the farm, what not to do as a farm dog, and how doing it anyway will generally result in a biscuit (or three!). Ragweed’s enthusiasm and almost single-minded focus on biscuits is consistent and convincingly doglike, while the occasional variation on the pattern only adds to the humor. (“If the farmer is away, chase the sheep! No biscuit. It’s just worth it.”). Anne Vittur Kennedy’s pairs her terrific narrative with illustrations full of color and movement. Ragweed’s joy in the life he lives is irresistible.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

"Drum Dream Girl" by Margarita Engle Wins 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award

Margarita Engle's picture book Drum Dream Girl is the winner of the nineteenth annual Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book.

Engle’s striking story tells the story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who grew up in Cuba in the 1920s at a time when drumming was considered to be only for men and boys. She dared to drum anyway, “tall conga drums / small bongo drums / and big, round, silvery / moon-bright timbales … Her hands seemed to fly / as they rippled / rapped / and pounded / all the rhythms / of her drum dreams.” 

Engle’s musical narrative goes on to describes Millo’s eventual triumph in convincing others that girls could play. Her words are set against the vibrant tropical colors of illustrator Rafael López’s lush illustrations.

The 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award Committee named five honor books: 
  • Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear written by Lindsay Mattick
  • Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise written by Sean Taylor
  • Last Stop on Market Street written by Matt de la Peña
  • The New Small Person written by Lauren Child
  • When Otis Courted Mama Written by Kathi Appelt

The Zolotow committee also named 10 highly commended titles:
  • Goodnight, Good Dog by Mary Lynn Ray
  • How the Sun Got to Coco’s House by Bob Graham
  • Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat
  • Maya’s Blanket / La manta de Maya by Monica Brown
  • Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter
  • A Poem in Your Pocket by Margaret McNamara
  • Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook by Anne Vittur Kennedy
  • Waiting by Kevin Henkes
  • Water is Water: A Book about the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul
  • When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt by Molly Bang

For more about the Charlotte Zolotow Award, administered by the Cooperative Children's Book Center, and the 2016 Zolotow Award books, see the complete press release

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

CCBC Choices 2016: Final List!

While we work madly to finishing annotating all the books in CCBC Choices 2016, the final Choices 2016 list is now available.  We are featuring 259 titles published in 2015.

The fully annotated Choices booklet, with author/title/illustrator and subject indexes and a brief commentary on the publishing year, will be available after March 5.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Book of the Week: Untwine

by Edwidge Danticat

Published by Scholastic, 2015
320 pages
ISBN: 978-0-545-42303-8

Age 13 and older

After her identical twin Isabelle is killed in a car accident, Giselle’s grief is compounded by her own injuries. Gisele wakes up in the hospital in small fits and starts. At first, there is the realization that Isabelle is dead; then comes the understanding that the staff and her aunt think that she is Isabelle and Giselle is the one who died. The mistake is rectified, but the loss remains, deep and ravaging, as Giselle moves through the first days and weeks after the accident. She and Isabelle were different, and sometimes fought, but even as they sought to be independent of each other, their closeness was a foundation. The loss changes the way Giselle sees her future, her friends, and her family, and underscores both the ways she and her sister strived to be individuals and also how deeply they were connected. Edwidge Danticat’s beautifully written look at the early days, weeks and months of grieving is grounded in a Haitian American family that was already in transition, not only because the two sisters were starting to think about life beyond high school but also because their parents were separating prior to the accident. Deeply moving, ultimately cathartic, it is a story that speaks, most profoundly, of love. ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, January 4, 2016

Book of the Week: The Marvels

The Marvels

by Brian Selznick
Published by Scholastic Press / Scholastic, Inc., 2015
672 pages
ISBN: 978-0-545-44868-0

Ages 9-13

Almost the first two-thirds of this hefty novel is told through black-and-white illustrations depicting generations of the Marvels, a theater family in England, from 1766 to 1900. A jump to 1990 begins the prose narrative in which Joseph, cold, wet, and sick, arrives on the doorstop of his Uncle Albert’s Victorian home in London after running away from boarding school. He doesn’t really know Uncle Albert, but Joseph’s parents are traveling outside the country, so he stays. Uncle Albert’s neighbor, a girl named Frankie, strikes up a friendship with Joseph, and the two of them begin trying to string together information about a famous theater family, the Marvels, who clearly once lived in the house, which is a living museum in their honor. There are personal belongings and even letters to be found in rooms that are staged like tableaus. Uncle Albert won’t talk about them, which makes Joseph and Frankie even more curious: How are the Marvels connected to Uncle Albert, and to Joseph? When finally revealed, the answer is bitter for Joseph. But for Joseph and for readers, too, it becomes bittersweet, and then wonderful, a tribute to the power of story, and the gifts of imagination, friendship, and love. Brian Selznick moves back and forth between prose and visual narrative in the final third of a novel that concludes with an extensive and fascinating author’s note about the two men and the house that were the real-life inspiration for the story. ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center