Believe it or not, it's the first day of spring! Raise your hand if you're sick of gray days and ice—or if you're pretty sure the spring equinox is a big fat liar (looking at you, NYC). Littlest readers can celebrate the return of spring (or dream of it) with a fresh crop of picture books:
Shawn Sheehy sneaks plenty of fun facts into his outstanding new pop-up book, Welcome to the Neighborwood. Each spread reveals the home of a different creature, from spiders to hummingbirds. I love how this delicate paper craftsmanship mirrors the intricacy and fragility of nature, encouraging little ones to both explore and respect their environment.
For another unique offering that gets up close and personal with nature, April Pulley Sayre's Raindrops Roll zooms in on the magic of rain with a captivating balance of science and poetry. Seven Impossible Things blogger Julie Danielson shares a few spreads from the book on her blog here.
The title of Kadir Nelson's If You Plant a Seed recalls the slippery-slope hijinks of a certain demanding mouse and his cookie (or moose and muffin, if you prefer), and the rabbit and mouse at the beginning of this gorgeous book certainly need to learn some manners—but fortunately they do, and their gardening efforts become a sweet allegory for the importance of kindness and sustainability.
You Nest Here with Me, written by Jane Yolen and her daughter and fellow birder, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is a classic bedtime book—but with so many baby birds tucked into their little homes, it's also a classic springtime book.
Carin Bramsen's Just a Duck? is on this list simply because of its hyper-vibrant illustrations. It's a story of unlikely best friends who learn to appreciate each other's unique strengths, but there's something about the colors, textures and, most of all, hilarious expressions that reminds me of all the best parts of spring.
Finally, the bears have it in two exceptional new picture books: The magical paper collages in Finding Spring by Carin Berger capture just how hard it is to wait for new seasons; and The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach is irresistibly full of mischief and bright, sunny adventures.
Want even more? Check these out at your local library:
You can view all our children's picture book coverage here.
BookPage is thrilled to reveal the cover for The Day the Crayons Came Home, the sequel to the best-selling The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers! It will be released this August from Philomel. Click to view larger.
But what have those high-maintenance crayons been up to? We chatted with Jeffers for the release of The Day the Crayons Quit, so for this new book, we wanted to hear from author Drew Daywalt:
Author Drew Daywalt
BookPage: What originally inspired you to share the plight of these grumbling crayons?
Daywalt: It wasn’t really by choice. My crayons told me that if I didn’t bring their plight to the public eye, something terrible might happen to me. What would you do? Like Duncan, I complied. This conspiracy of silence has to end. These little wax cylinders are terrors and the world needs to know!
Last time we checked in on the crayons, they were pretty ticked off, though Duncan did make a concerted effort to honor their many demands. Why are they coming back in this sequel? What do they want this time?
Money. Cold hard cash. They want the Benjamins and they aren’t afraid to use violence to get them. NO, I’M JUST KIDDING! Seriously though . . . poor Duncan. He finally gets one group of crayons to chill out and a whole NEW group shows up griping at him.
In The Day the Crayons Came Home, it’s a whole new batch of crayons, and their complaints are about how Duncan has lost, broken or neglected them. We know all these crayons already, because we're all kind of Duncan. They’re all the ones we melted, broke, lost or otherwise treated crappily when we were kids. (Is crappily a word? Oh man, did I just invent a word? I did! Yes! You’re WELCOME, Webster!) But in all seriousness, what I think makes the new book really special is that it’s a story about homecoming and acceptance no matter what . . . but with lots of complaining.
Illustrator Oliver Jeffers
Which crayon do you most empathize with?
In the new book? I’m Neon Red Crayon. Yeah. For sure. He’s kind of a lovable goof who has no idea where he is or where he’s going, but he’s really enjoying the ride. Or . . . I might be Glow-in-the-Dark Crayon. He draws scary things that then totally freak him out when it’s dark. Also kind of an idiot. Hmmm . . . I’m seeing a pattern here in myself.
What’s your favorite part about working with Jeffers?
He smells nice. Actually, It’s the sense of fun when we’re working. A lot of what Oliver and I do is try to make each other laugh. He also has a cool Irish brogue, which makes me 25% cooler just by standing next to him when he talks. What I bring to the table is that I have large strong shoulders and I could easily carry him if I ever needed to rescue him from, like, a burning building or something.
What would you like kids to remember next time they pick up their crayons?
Not to do drugs.
The animated film rights for The Day the Crayons Quit were purchased by Universal Pictures last year. Hooray for crayons!
It's one of my favorite—and most fascinating—times of year: The days and weeks following the American Library Association's announcement of the winners of the Youth Media Awards, including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards, are filled with as much joy as debate. We all have our favorite children's and YA books of the year (you can view the BookPage Best Children's and YA Books of 2014 here). Sometimes your favorites don't get the recognition you hoped for, and sometimes they do. And sometimes it seems like the award committee likes to test our understanding of the awards just because they can.
But putting all that aside, we love catching up with the winners of these awards, so we spoke with Caldecott winner Dan Santat, Newbery winner Kwame Alexander and Printz winner Jandy Nelson about what it's like to be recognized as the best in children's and young adult literature.
"It was a dream come true. A dream I never thought I would ever achieve."
"Am I delirious? Dreaming? Did he just really say 'Medal'? And then, like the clouds shifting to reveal the golden sun, my life changed, a new normal ablaze."
"I love being inside the minds/hearts of my teen narrators, love the urgency of the teen experience, that period of time when everything is so new, so dramatic, so emotional, so confusing, so funny, so raw, so honest, so everything."
It's February, and everyone has their favorite literary couples: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Sometimes the best duos are the ones you'd never think had anything in common . . . like, who would've thought that Ron and Hermione would stop fighting long enough to fall in love?
Oh, it's just so difficult when everyone loves you. Where will the two medals go, anyway? Here's an attempt to pile them on via Mariko Tamaki's website.
With the recent announcement that This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki had won both a Printz Honor and a Caldecott Honor—the first graphic novel to win the latter—these two supposedly irreconcilable seals now sit side by side on the book's cover. The young adult (YA) world is buzzing with debate over this pairing, but I'd like to suggest that it's a terrific chance to challenge assumptions about these awards, and to think about what happens when they come together. Here are three ideas worth considering.
The Caldecott has pushed boundaries before.
The Caldecott medal is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children, with Honor books considered to be similarly distinguished runners-up.
Most Caldecott winners and Honor books have looked like picture books—they've been 32 pages or so, and generally taller than they are long—and many are appropriate for preschool audiences. But in 2008, the Caldecott medal went to The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, a book most likely to be enjoyed by late elementary school and early middle-school readers. Clocking in at a hefty 534 pages (and longer and almost wider than it is tall), Hugo Cabret was an unusual choice. And yet its detailed black and white drawings, and its mix of verbal and pictorial storytelling, could certainly be argued to be distinguished.
The two medals' criteria overlap in interesting ways.
In December, I'd predicted that This One Summer would walk away with the Printz award as the best book written for teens this year, based entirely on literary merit. Although "literary" seems at first to refer only to words, books that include both words and pictures have been recognized in the past. Consider American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, the medal winner in 2007.
Similarly, while the Caldecott's "for children" designation seems at first to exclude teens, a deeper dig through its terms and criteria reveals that "children" is actually defined as "persons of ages up to and including fourteen" (possibly a holdover from before the Printz and other YA awards were established, or before YA lit as it's currently understood existed at all). While the Caldecott is usually thought of as a children's illustration-based award and the Printz as a YA word-based one, there's no definitional reason why an illustrated book aimed at 12- to 14-year-olds can't qualify for—and win—medals in both categories.
This One Summer is all about in-between-ness and liminality.
And if any book was the one to show how this overlap might work, it's Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki's monochromatic, intensely reflective graphic novel. As discussed on this blog series all the way back in November, narrator Rose's age is never actually specified. We know that her younger friend Windy is still very much a child and her aspirational "like eighteen"-year-old crush is too old for her, making Rose probably around 12.
But by writing (and drawing) Rose as an in-between character, the Tamaki cousins actively invite readers to think about liminality, or what it means to be part one thing and part another. Suspended between childhood and young adulthood, Rose is the perfect protagonist of a book that's the first ever to be recognized by both the Caldecott and the Printz committees.
Sure, there've already been calls to redefine the Caldecott criteria to include only books aimed at children 12 and under—and already questions of whether collections that're determined to buy every Caldecott book will wind up with a title that doesn't quite belong. But I think the dual recognition of This One Summer is great for the book, great for children's and YA lit, great for graphic novels and great for ongoing discussions about what these awards are . . . or should be. Like Ron and Hermione, these two opposites might have more in common than they first appear.
What do you think of This One Summer's dual win? Do you think young-leaning YA graphic novels should be eligible for the Caldecott? Tell us in the comments!
Locker Combinations is a Book Case feature by BookPage contributor and young adult (YA) literature expert Jill Ratzan. Using a variety of literary, cultural and educational perspectives, Jill guest blogs about the latest in YA lit and the general direction, trends and changes of the field. Read more BookPage reviews, interviews and posts by Jill here.
Today the American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books for children and young adults, including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards, with several of the BookPage Best Children's and YA Books of 2014 receiving well-earned nods.
Standouts include Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, which was our favorite to win the Newbery Medal but picked up a Newbery Honor, a Sibert Honor and the Coretta Scott King Author Book Award. The Right Word by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet also received recognition as the Sibert Award winner as well as a Caldecott Honor. This One Summer's Printz Honor came as no surprise, but we were tickled to discover that it also garnered a Caldecott Honor. And congratulations to Sharon Draper, who won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults!
Read on for all the winners:
NEWBERY: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (HMH)
Newbery Honor Books:
CALDECOTT: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat (Little, Brown)
Caldecott Honor Books:
CORETTA SCOTT KING AUTHOR BOOK AWARD: Jacqueline Woodson for Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen)
King Author Honor Books:
CORETTA SCOTT KING ILLUSTRATOR BOOK AWARD: Christopher Myers for Firebird, written by Misty Copeland (Putnam)
King Illustrator Honor Books:
CORETTA SCOTT KING/JOHN STEPTOE NEW TALENT AUTHOR AWARD: When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum)
PRINTZ: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Dial)
Printz Honor Books:
SIBERT AWARD for most distinguished informational book for children: The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans)
Sibert Honor Books:
THEODOR SEUSS GEISEL AWARD for distinguished beginning reader book: You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant (Two Lions)
Geisel Honor Books:
MORRIS AWARD for first-time YA author: Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (Cinco Puntos)
Click here to view all the winners, including the Alex Awards (the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences), the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the Stonewall Book Award (books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience), the Pura Belpre Awards for Latino authors and illustrators and more.
Did your favorite children's or YA book pick up an award this year?
If you need any proof that books aren't dead, just look to the children's and young adult industry, which continues to grow and dominate bestseller charts for adults and young readers alike.
To celebrate this "golden age" of children's and YA books, Time Magazine has compiled a list of all-time classics, both old and new. The children's list includes favorites such as The Giving Tree and Make Way for Ducklings, and my own personal favorite, Miss Rumphius. Check out the full list of 100 here, and vote for your favorite.
The young adult list is a little . . . let's say confusing, and we're not the only ones who feel this way. Books like Wonder—which is middle grade, not young adult—share space with A Monster Calls, and it's almost unfathomable to see Twilight and To Kill a Mockingbird on the same list. See the full 100 here.
Readers, what do you think?
The global phenomenon that is Harry Potter will never, ever end. (Insert maniacal laughter here.) A new deluxe, fully illustrated, full-color edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is coming on October 6, 2015, from Scholastic.
It will be illustrated by Kate Greenaway Medal winner Jim Kay (A Monster Calls) and will be the first fully illustrated HP book. Scholastic recently released four new images from the book. Check out Kay's Ron, Hagrid, Hermione and Draco:
Scholastic will publish Brian Selznick's next novel on September 15, 2015. In the vein of his Caldecott Medal-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret (which was adapted into Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award–winning movie Hugo, one of the only movies I've ever enjoyed watching in 3D) and Wonderstruck, The Marvels combines two seemingly unrelated stories—one told in words, the other in pictures.
A preview from the publisher:
The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries. How the picture and word stories intersect will leave readers marveling over Selznick’s storytelling skill.
Read more here. Sounds like classic Selznick, and I couldn't be more excited! Readers, what do you think?
Of all the many authors I had the pleasure of seeing and meeting at this year's Southern Festival of Books, it was especially thrilling to take a moment with award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson to talk about her new memoir-in-verse, Brown Girl Dreaming.
This truly marvelous book reveals a childhood caught between worlds, and her poignant verse succeeds in stripping away extraneous details, allowing room for readers to make an instant emotional connection.
Throughout her session, Woodson quoted from several of her books, including a selection from Locomotion that instructed a young mind to "be quiet" and to allow memories to make themselves known. She read several of the poems from Brown Girl Dreaming, including her favorite, "Music," which begins:
Every morning the radio come on seven o'clock
Sometimes Michael Jackson is singing that A-B-C
is as easy as 1-2-3
or Sly and the Family Stone are thanking us for
Sometimes it's slower music, the Five Stairsteps
things are going to get easier, or the Hollies singing,
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
So on we go . . .
After her session, Woodson graciously agreed to chat with me about the book, her complex relationships with music and the South, and so much more. A preview:
Why did you think verse works so well for this book?
It’s how memory comes. Memories come in these small moments, with all of this white space around them, but the moments are very distinct. I feel like I have all this information, [but I'm] not sure what it’s connected to. And then the exploration of years and months and days brings the connection together. But it wouldn’t have been a straight narrative. A straight narrative would’ve been a lie. It’s not how you remember things—you remember them in small moments.
Nobody does interactive picture books like French artist Hervé Tullet. Following the success of his 2011 bestseller Press Here, Tullet has become a bit of a picture book sensation, encouraging the littlest readers to poke and shake books that seem to respond to their command. The dots from Press Here return on September 16 in Mix It Up!, but this time they've got something to show us about mixing and creating colors.
Tullet's Help! We Need a Title! came out in May of this year and took his interactive elements to a metafictional level, subtly provoking questions about what a book is. What's an author, and where do ideas come from? The scribbly, mixed-media characters in Help! seem to come straight from a child's mind, but when the book opens, they're all completely unprepared. Surely the reader expects a story . . . so what do you do when it hasn't been written yet? (Who's in charge around here, anyway?)
This fall's crop of picture books includes several more metafictional titles, encouraging fearless and unfettered creativity while challenging the relationships between readers, listeners, authors and characters.
Before snuggling down with this book, I highly recommend fixing yourself and your lap listener some PB&J sandwiches, then sit back and let the giggles begin. Everything starts out as planned in Louie's story—"Once upon a time, little Louie went skipping merrily along."—but a messy reader ruins everything. First a glob of jelly plops right in Louie's way, and then peanut butter lands on his face . . . and as the book gets dirtier and dirtier, Louie gets more and more upset with the reader/offender. Fortunately Louie and the reader come to an understanding. Perfect's boring anyway. Coming October 7.
This time, the reader is hero, not villain. The gutter of this unexpected adventure has a mind of its own, and when Bella's dog disappears between the pages, she finds herself in an escalating conundrum reminiscent of the events in Jeffers' Stuck. Soon the gutter has sucked up everyone in the book, and it's up to the reader to set them free. We're asked to shake the book—keep shaking!—until everyone reappears . . . almost as good as new. Coming September 30.
Just as you'd expect, Novak's debut picture book has absolutely zero pictures—not even an author photo on the jacket flaps. This innovative story is not really a story so much as a challenge to parents, to drop the ego and get silly. The concept works, though, as it calls into question the real balance of power in the relationship between reader and listener. When a reader has to read what is written—no matter what is written, no matter how ridiculous or how little it makes sense—things can get very, very silly. Coming September 30.