It’s 1948, and 11-year-old Tate P. Ellerbee’s teacher wants each of her students to choose a pen pal, hoping that “new worlds will unfold in front of you, and you’ll see your own world through fresh eyes.” Tate decides to write to rising country singer Hank Williams. She pours her heart out to her idol in letter after letter, even though he sends her fan photos but never writes back.
Fans of the award-winning Open This Little Book will be drawn to the exuberant Inside This Book by author-illustrator Barney Saltzberg. It’s a testament to the robust imagination of children, as well as the very notion of self-publishing.
A series of family portraits, with border art as special as the families within, provide the framework for Families, Families, Families! The wife and husband team of writer Suzanne Lang and award-winning illustrator Max Lang have combined the talents in their family to create an utterly charming picture book about the varied nature of families.
Ten years ago, Jeanne Birdsall introduced readers to the funny, smart, sweet-but-never-saccharine Penderwick sisters, whose initial summer adventures were followed by two additional books. This fourth installment opens five years after The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. With Rosalind away at college and Skye and Jane busy with teenage pursuits, the focus is on 10-year-old Batty, along with her stepbrother Ben and the newest Penderwick sibling, 2-year-old Lydia.
Author-illustrator Emma Yarlett first caught my attention with her picture book Sidney, Stella, and the Moon, and now I can’t stop re-reading her newest offering, Orion and the Dark. One glance at the cover and my book-stuffed heart says, “Yay!” My instincts rarely fail, and neither does Yarlett.
The fact that the world’s not fair is a hard concept for children to learn. But 11-year-old Julia Delaney (based on the author’s mother-in-law, also named Julia) knows this lesson all too well growing up in St. Louis’ tough Irish neighborhood of Kerry Patch in the winter of 1911 (one of the coldest winters on record in Missouri). When her grandmother, and last blood relative, dies, she is sent to live at the House of Mercy, an “Industrial School and Girls’ Home” run by strict nuns, and is eventually separated from her older brother and sister.
In this humbly magnificent tale of the ultimate triumph of good over evil, 12-year-old Tam goes from wretchedness to hopefulness as he begins to understand the ancient wisdom of his people.
Sometimes being the smartest kid in your class doesn’t make you any friends. Sometimes the way you see the world is so different from “normal” that you’re not sure anyone can understand you. So it is for Nicholas Funes, the 11-year-old hero of If You Find This.
When Bear visits a duck family one spring, they have so much fun together he decides to stay. But the ducks’ home is too small for Bear, and his ideal space is far too gloomy (and roomy) for the ducks. Can a compromise be struck? The smart money’s on finding Room for Bear.
When Charlie “Bird” Parker and John “Dizzy” Gillespie played music together in the 1940s, they forged a new kind of music—bebop. Gary Golio’s new picture book, with exuberant illustrations by Ed Young, is a lively tribute to the form.