Category: Elementary School


The National Council of Teachers of English have announced the 2015 winner, honor books and recommended books for the Orbis Pictus Award.  The award was created in 1989 to promote and recognize excellence in writing of children’s nonfiction. 

2015 Winner

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

 

Honor Books

A Home for Mr. Emerson Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

A Home for Mr. Emerson by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illustrated by Gilbert Ford

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

20518974

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson

 

Recommended Books

18172993 Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World

Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop

Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World by Steve Jenkins

The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement 20388100

The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement by Teri Kanefield

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands The Scraps Book

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert

The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America's Hero Strike!: The Farm Workers' Fight for Their Rights

The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Terry Widener

Strike!: The Farm Worker’s Fight for Their Rights by Larry Dane Brimner

The National Council of Teachers of English has announced the winners, honor books and recommended titles for the Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children.  This award was established in 2014 and promotes and recognizes excellence in writing.  “This award recognizes fiction that has the potential to transform children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder.”

2015 Charlotte Huck Award Winner

Rain Reign

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

 

Honor Books

Absolutely Almost The Crossover El Deafo

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The Farmer and the Clown Revolution

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

 

Recommended Titles

A Snicker of Magic Draw! The Madman of Piney Woods

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Draw by Raul Colon

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Meaning of Maggie The Most Magnificent Thing

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Otis and the Scarecrow The Secret Hum of a Daisy

Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long

The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer

The Turtle of Oman: A Novel

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

terrible two

The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Miles is moving to Yawnee Valley along with his parents, a place with larger spaces, bigger lawns, and lots of cows.  He had been known in his last school as the prankster, but upon arrival at his first day of school Miles discovers that there is another prankster already at work.  That prankster has put the principal’s car at the top of the stairs to the entrance to the school, blocking it so that no one can enter.  So Principal Barkin is forced to have each and every kid at school climb through his car to enter the building.  Of course, he could also have had them use the back door…  Miles is introduced to Niles, a model student who is assigned as his buddy.  Niles is immensely annoying, perfect in class, kissing up to the teacher.  But NIles is also the prankster who pulled off the car stunt.  As the two become rivals, a pranking war begins, one that involves insects, pie, forgeries, and lots of cake.  Who will reign supreme at the school and will Principal Barkin survive it?

This book, which I assume is the beginning of a new series, will be adored by kids.  It has exactly the right tone and sense of humor.  The two rival boys are a delightful contrast to one another, yet equally likeable and one isn’t quite sure who to root for so you end up rooting for the prank to be great.   And what pranks they are.  Principals may not enjoy the humor here, but it is much more about this one school and a principal who loses his cool regularly than about any real prank being pulled in a real school setting.  The pranks are elaborate enough that no one is going to be taking real cues from this book.

Cornell’s illustrations add to the humor.  I particularly enjoy the cows, the cow facts done as a list, and the rubber chickens.  The book has a wonderful wildness to it, an edginess of a prank about to go wrong, that is also reflected in the zany art.  Reluctant readers will enjoy the breaking up of the text into manageable chunks. 

Get this into the hands of fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and those who are outgrowing Captain Underpants.  Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from ARC received from Abrams Books.

Here are my picks for the best nonfiction titles for children from this past year.  The list includes books of poetry and nursery rhymes along with more factual forms of nonfiction.  Enjoy!

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents 17320985

Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents by Lita Judge

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz

Brown Girl Dreaming 21892530

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Colors of the Wind: The Story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza by J. L. Powers

The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud

The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sounds of Joy Is Enlightening by Chris Raschka

Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracey E. Fern, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Edward Hopper Paints His World Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World

Edward Hopper Paints His World by Robert Burleigh

Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World by Steve Jenkins

17870871 Firefly July A Year of Very Short Poems

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems by Paul B. Janeczko

Goodnight Songs Grandfather Gandhi

Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown

Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk

Hi, Koo! A Home for Mr. Emerson

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons By Jon J. Muth

A Home for Mr. Emerson by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

How I Discovered Poetry The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan

20388100 Little Poems for Tiny Ears

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Little Poems for Tiny Ears by Lin Oliver, illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, illustrated by Gilbert Ford

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPre

Not My Girl Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems

Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus The Scraps Book

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jennifer Fisher Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert

Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation

Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America by Tonya Bolden

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

Here are my picks for the best graphic novels of the year for youth!  As always, share your own picks in the comments.

Comics Squad: Recess! The Dumbest Idea Ever!

Comics Squad: Recess! by Jennifer L. Holm

The Dumbest Idea Ever! By Jimmy Gownley

El Deafo The Graveyard Book Volume 1

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The Graveyard Book: Volume 1 by P. Craig Russell

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier

Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle by Dana Simpson

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl, #3) The Shadow Hero

Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang

Sisters The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth (Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue, #1)

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth by Ian Lendler

apocalypse bow wow

Apocalypse Bow Wow by James Proimos III

Brownie and Apollo are two dogs who have been happily living together with their two humans.  Their only argument is that Apollo always gets the couch.  But then their humans fail to return and the two of them are left alone.  Brownie knows the humans will be back soon because he’s getting very hungry and they always come back when he’s hungry.  But they don’t return.  So the dogs have to figure out how to get out of the house.  Apollo tries to break down the door, but it doesn’t work so Brownie thinks that licking the doorknob will help.  Apollo knows this makes no sense, but lets Brownie try it.  And when he does, a deer leaps through the window and breaks it.  Ta da!  Brownie and his tongue have saved the day.  But when they get out into the world, there are no humans anywhere and now they have to find their own food.  Can two rather silly dogs find a way to survive the apocalypse?

This graphic novel is told in distinct scenes, creating a rather movie-like experience reading it.  The two dog characters are great foils for one another, Apollo being the more grounded and logical dog while Brownie is rather confused and hopelessly optimistic about everything.  Though the book never explains where the humans have disappeared to, readers will happily just go along with the scenario presented thanks to the humor and the silliness.

Proimos’ illustrations are very funny and the way he uses the page is deftly done, making the scenes all the more humorous.  Readers of Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s books will be right at home here with the illustration style. 

A humorous take on a bleak dystopian disaster, this book will be enjoyed by children who don’t mind a dark side to their graphic novels.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Bloomsbury and Netgalley.

emmanuels dream

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Emmanuel was born in Ghana, West Africa, with a deformed leg.  His father left the family but his mother continued to encourage Emmanuel to make something of himself.  Emmanuel taught himself to crawl and hop, so he was able to hop the two miles to school and then hop all the way back home at the end of the day.  At school kids would not play with him at first, so he saved up his money to buy a new soccer ball that he shared with the others as long as they let him play too.  Soon he was playing soccer using crutches to get around.  It was at school that Emmanuel also taught himself to ride a bike.  Then his mother fell ill and Emmanuel had to leave school to support his family.  He headed for the big city of Accra where he looked for a job.  It took time, but he started working as a shoe shiner and for a restaurant that also gave him a place to stay.   He sent money home and two years later returned home because his mother’s health was failing.  After her death, he decided to follow his dream to bike around Ghana.  He worked to get help with his dream, becoming a spokesperson in his country for people with disabilities.  He completed his journey of 400 miles in just ten days, an amazing journey that proved that one person’s dreams could deeply change a culture.

Thompson’s writing is in stanzas and moves between feeling like poetry and prose.   This fluidity makes the book very readable, it also lets her make her points with a grace and brevity that is purely poetic.  Thompson’s text shines with her appreciation for Emmanuel and his achievements in life.  Where his culture told him that he was cursed and unworthy, he has become a hero.  It is also a sort of tangible heroism that children will completely understand.  They will know what his achievement is and how difficult it would be to accomplish.

Qualls’ illustrations are incredible.  Filled with beautiful people, strong color, patterns and light, the illustrations let the backgrounds fade to white and black and the people come forward and shine.  Bright colors ripple across skin, fill cheeks, and color the air around people.  There is a sense of life within these illustrations, one that can’t be contained.

A truly inspiring story that shows the creation of a national hero from his infancy through his achievements.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Random House and Edelweiss.

Here are my favorite reads of 2014 for children in elementary grades.  Perhaps they reveal a bit too much about my quirky personality!

More great reads for elementary kids will be part of my Graphic Novel and Nonfiction lists, coming soon.

Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual The Day My Father Became a Bush

Aviary Wonders, Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth

The Day My Father Became a Bush by Joke van Leeuwen

Dory Fantasmagory Emma and the Blue Genie

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

Emma and the Blue Genie by Cornelia Funke

Fly Away Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse

Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan

Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Toben Kuhlmann

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher My Heart Is Laughing

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

My Heart Is Laughing by Rose Lagercrantz

Rules of Summer Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny

The Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman

These are only selected from the books I managed to read this year, so please share other favorites of your own in the comments!

before after

Before After by Matthias Aregui and Anne-Margot Ramstein

The passage of time is captured beautifully in this wordless book that shows one example after another of before and then after.  The book is a delightful mix of concepts with examples from nature, pop culture and plenty of humor.   An acorn before becomes an oak tree after.  A small ape before becomes King Kong after.  Ingredients become a cake and a few pages later the cake is eaten and left as crumbs.  But what came first, the chicken or the egg.  This book takes a wry and balanced view of that debate by showing both in sequence.  One never knows what the page turn will bring, and that’s part of the appeal in this clever and funny book.

Wordless books are often short, but this book is nice and thick, the entire book offering lots to think about and plenty of chuckles along the way.  While it may seem to be more for preschoolers, older elementary aged children will get more of the references in the book like the chicken and the egg and King Kong.  They will also appreciate the passage of time visually on the page as ice melts to water.  Additionally, some of the images are more complex with a cow becoming milk but also becoming a picture of a cow.  Very meta. 

For children with reading difficulties in elementary school, this would be a great book to start discussions.  It is also a wonderful way to wile away some time looking at an outstanding example of wordless art that delights.  Appropriate for ages 5-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

chimpanzee children of gombe

Chimpanzee Children of Gombe by Jane Goodall, photos by Michael Neugebauer

Jane Goodall invites young readers to spend some time in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania with the chimpanzee families she has been studying for decades.  Readers are introduced to two chimpanzee families, F-family and G-family, who are all named with that letter as the first in their name.  So there are Ferdinand, Faustino and Fifi and also Gremlin, Galahad and Gaia.  Goodall shows similarities between humans and chimpanzees, including greeting each other with kisses, having mothers who are good and others who are not so good, and children who love to play.  The book celebrates the close family bonds of chimpanzees, the caring mothers who lug children on their fronts and then their backs, siblings who play together, and the way young are taught to use tools.  The result is a book that is a trip to their world and an invitation to learn more about these amazing endangered animals.

Goodall writes with a wonderful inviting tone, explaining facts carefully but also allowing the images of the animals to tell much of the story.  She plays hostess in the book, taking care to make sure that children know the basics about the chimpanzees and then also moving on to include other animals like baboons and monkeys that live in the same area.  The book nicely balances offering just enough information to stay fascinating and not overwhelming children with too many small facts.  Instead it reads as a stroll alongside Goodall through her research center.

The photographs by Neugebauer reinforce what Goodall is explaining in words.  Readers see the close family ties, they witness young chimpanzees at play, and there are gorgeous shots of the habitat itself that show how special and important this place is. 

A strong introduction to Goodall’s work, this book is engaging and inspiring.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

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