Monday, January 30, 2017

Book of the Week: Somos como las nubes = We Are Like the Clouds

Somos como las nubes = We Are Like the Clouds

by Jorge Argueta
Illustrated by Alfonso Ruano 
Translated by Elisa Amado from the Spanish 

Published by Groundwood, 2016
32 pages
ISBN: 978–1–55498–849–5

Age 9 and older
“…the odyssey that thousands of boys, girls and young people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico undertake when they flee their countries because of extreme poverty and fear of violence” is the subject of this powerful, bilingual collection of poems. The opening, title poem compares children and their dreams to clouds. Then the voice of a child in El Salvador offers warm images of neighborhood life, followed by references to gang members and violence. “Hit this one, hit that one. / I don’t want to be this one or that / one.” The journey poems speak through and to the experiences of many children, chronicling endless walking, the frightening bestia (train), the dessert crossing. “My father says / if we keep singing, / we’ll scare away all the tiredness / and the fear / and become a song.” These migrants are individual children, each with their own names and histories and hopes and dreams, a message eloquently reinforced in “We Introduce Ourselves to the Border Patrol.” And the idea that “We Are Like the Clouds” is irony, and perhaps necessity, in the face of the unwelcoming fence at the border. The two final poems can be interpreted as a literal dream, or as safety and happiness: an arrival. Author Jorge Argueta fled from El Salvador to the United States during the war in the 1980s. His poems are set against paintings by Alfonso Ruano both realistic and symbolic. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book of the Week: A Poem for Peter

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day




by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson
Published by Viking, 2016
52 pages
ISBN: 978–0–425–28768–2

As a child in the 1960s, Andrea Davis Pinkney was affected profoundly by The Snowy Day. It was the first book she encountered featuring an African American child like her. Her ingenious poem is a celebration of both the character Peter and of his creator, Ezra Jack Keats. Keats started out life as a poor Jewish boy in Brooklyn who dreamed of being an artist. Peter of The Snowy Day makes several of what Pinkney describes as “peek-a-boo” appearances throughout this lyrical account of Keats’ life, “waving at the reader.” When Keats was working early in his career as a comic-book artist, for example: “The brown-sugar boy / in a blanket of white / began to ignite by what kids saw, / and didn’t see, / in the not-so-funny comics / Ezra was made to draw. / All the heroes in all the comics / were always as white as a winter sky.” This tour-de-force is illustrated brilliantly with acrylic, collage, and pencil artwork that gives a true sense of Keats’s own artwork. (KTH) ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Carole Boston Weatherford wins 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award

Freedom in Congo Square, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, is the winner of the twentieth 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, and will be presented in Madison this spring.
Carole Boston Weatherford’s potent picture book narrative begins “Mondays, there were hogs to slop, / mules to train, and logs to chop. / Slavery was no ways fair. / Six more days to Congo Square.” Congo Square, the Foreword explains, was a legal gathering spot for enslaved and free Blacks in New Orleans. The first 14 couplets count down the days to Congo Square, documenting the work of enslaved men and women as they labored in fields and in houses, in despair and in defiance, Monday through Saturday.  The remaining 11 couplets mark the transition to Sunday, and the gathering in Congo Square, spinning out details of music and dancing, chanting and singing, lifting spirits and hearts.  The deceptively spare text resounds with power and honesty, and is set against expressive paintings in which stylized, elongated figures carry out the heavy work of Monday through Saturday, before breaking free to move with fluid joy and abandon on Sunday.  
Freedom in Congo Square was edited by Sonali Fry and published in the United States in 2016 by little bee books.

The 2017 Zolotow Award committee named three Honor Books:  

Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth, written and illustrated by Jarvis, edited by Maria Tunney, and published by Candlewick Press; 

Giant Squid, written by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann, edited by Neal Porter, and published by Neal Porter Books / Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group;

and Thunder Boy Jr., written by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, edited by Alvina Ling, and published by Little, Brown and Company.  

The 2017 Zolotow Award committee also cited ten titles as Highly Commended:  
  • A Bike Like Sergio’s, written by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick Press)
  • Blocks, written and illustrated by Irene Dickson (Nosy Crow / Candlewick Press)
  • The Cow Who Climbed a Tree, written and illustrated by Gemma Merino (Albert Whitman) 
  • Daniel Finds a Poem, written and illustrated by Micha Archer (Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Random House) 
  • Hannah and Sugar, written and illustrated by Kate Berube (Abrams) 
  • Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael Lรณpez (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • My New Mom and Me, written and illustrated by Renata Galindo (Schwartz & Wade Books / Random House);
  • The Princess and the Warrior, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams)
  • School’s First Day of School, written by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson (A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan)
  • The Sound of Silence, written by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo (Little, Brown)
Additional information about the 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award can be found here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CCBC Choices 2017: The Final List!

So many great books.

We think that every year. It's why the question, "What's your favorite book this year?" is always a stumper. My personal answer, always, is "I don't have one." I'm not being coy, I'm being truthful. I don't have a single favorite. I have many books I appreciate for many different reasons.

Thinking that way informs how we create our annual best-of-the-year list, CCBC Choices. We aren't looking for a single, best book. We're looking to create a list that is broad and deep, reflective of the many dimensions of excellence to be found in literature for children and teens, many dimensions of identity in the lives of young people, and many dimensions of diversity in the world in which they--and we--live. Is it a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

The books in CCBC Choices are titles we return to again and again in our work with preservice and practicing teachers and school and public librarians in Wisconsin.  They are books we are eager to share for many reasons: because they can engage, because they can inform, because they can entertain, because they can foster understanding and forge connections, and much more.

The Friends of the CCBC underwrite the significant cost of publishing the annual CCBC Choices booklet, which is fully annotated with age recommendations, and indexed.  The CCBC Choices 2017 booklet will be available after March 4.  If you aren't a Friends member, please consider  joining to support their work. You'll receive a copy of Choices by mail after it is published.

In the meantime, the list of titles we've chosen for inclusion in CCBC Choices 2017 is now final.

What's our favorite book this year? We don't have one. We have 246 of them. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Book of the Week: When the Moon Was Ours

When the Moon Was Ours

by Anna-Marie McLemore

Published by Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Griffin, 2016

273 pages pages

ISBN: 978-1-250-05866-9

Age 14 and older

Miel and Sam have been friends since the day Miel, drenched and scared, appeared in a field where a water tower had just been drained in Sam’s town. Miel is haunted by snippets of memory that include a curandero father long gone, and a mother and older brother who drowned--in the wind she sometimes hears her mother’s cries. But Miel has Aracely, the young woman who raised her, curer of lovesick, broken hearts, and Sam, who hangs the moon for her. Miel is one of the few who knows Sam is really Samira. He and his mother moved to town when Sam was small so he could live as a boy. The practice, from his mother’s Pakistani heritage, is called bacha posh and typically ends in adolescence. But Miel understands that it expresses who Sam is, now and forever. The Bonner Girls, las gringas bonitas, are four sisters who once could make any boy fall in love with them, but not anymore. Ivy Bonner believes the roses that grow from Miel’s wrist, the roses Miel see as her curse, can restore the sisters’ power. When Ivy learns Sam’s secret, Miel knows she’ll do what Ivy wants to protect the boy she loves. Latin American magical realism is foundational to this lush, sensual, astounding work graced by characters that are exquisitely, exceptionally human. Thick with secrets, this is a story of love and family and the power of speaking one's truth. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

book cover
Book of the Week

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book of the Week: Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel!

Good Night, Bat! Good Morning, Squirrel!

by Paul Meisel
Published by Boyds Mills Press / Highlights, 2016
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62979-495-2
Ages 3-6

When Bat loses his home, he has a hard time finding a new one. One animal after another turns him away, but he finally finds the perfect spot inside a leafy nest up a tree. Squirrel’s already there, but she’s dozing and so Bat deposits the bugs he’s gathered on the bed and happily finds a twig to hang from and goes to sleep. Squirrel is startled and annoyed when she discovers the uninvited guest in the morning and writes an emphatic note telling Bat to leave. (“Dear Bat, Bug off! Sincerely, Squirrel”). When Bat finds the note he understands it to mean that Squirrel didn’t like the insects on her bed, so he politely moves them to a corner of the nest. That begins a series of misunderstandings, all conveyed through correspondence, with Squirrel telling Bat to leave, and Bat, ever the optimist, consistently misinterpreting her messages. Eventually Squirrel realizes that she’s come to appreciate the ever-cheery Bat, while Bat knows he’d be lonely without Squirrel, and so the duo agrees to be roommates. Appealing illustrations sweeten this charming comedy of errors featuring an odd couple of the animal world. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book of the Week: On the Edge of Gone

On the Edge of Gone

by Corinne Duyvis
Published by Amulet Books/Abrams, 2016
456 pages
ISBN: 979-1-4197-1903-5
Age 14 and older

It’s 2035 and a comet is headed toward Earth. Preparations for the inevitable destruction have fallen along class lines – those who can afford it, or who have critical skills, are set to escape on self-sustaining generation ships. Those who can’t are staying in underground shelters with little hope of long-term survival. Biracial Denise, her drug-addicted mother, and her trans sister don’t come close to qualifying for safe passage on a generation ship but Denise is determined to get the three of them on board, even it means lying or sneaking on. Denise has autism – sometimes that hinders her, sometimes it helps, but always it is just part of who she is and how she views the world. Set in a futuristic Amsterdam, this compelling novel is tense, visceral, and extremely well crafted. It also offers a thoughtful exploration of ethical dilemmas: What would you be willing to do to survive? Whom would you save? And, in the face of pending doom, who deserves to live and who is expendable? (KTH) ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center