CCBC Choices 2007

CCBC Choices is always one of my favorite lists of the year.  Not only does it not pick a winner, but it offers such a range of multicultural, multiethnic, multi-everything books that no other list can quite compare.  I always find myself placing more books on hold at the library than with any other list, and each one is an amazing book. 

Now that I am no longer doing children’s programming, I have given up attending most of the continuing education about children’s services.  The one that I simply can’t give up is the presentation by the CCBC where they come and hand sell the books they have selected.  I hope to be there again this year.

Later drafts of the list will have annotations and recommended ages for all of the books, but this first glimpse is the most exciting! 

Here are some of my faves from the list:

Move! by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page.
An Island Grows by Lola Schaefer.
Summer Is Summer by Phillis Gershator.
Winter Is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer.
One Potato, Two Potato by Cynthia DeFelice.
The Little Red Hen by Jerry Pinkney.
The Magic Horse of Han Gan by Chen Jiang Hong.
Dizzy by Jonah Winter.
Meow Ruff by Joyce Sidman.
Superhero ABC by Bob McLeod.
Black? White! Day? Night! by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.
Bebe Goes Shopping by Susan Middleton Elya.
Boo and Baa Have Company by Lena Landstrom.

This is obviously going to go on forever!  I have read more titles on the list this year than ever before.  Usually I recognize only a handful and am lead to a myriad of great reads.  This year I seem to have read and enjoyed more than I missed.  I am amazed.

Anyway, it is a super list.  Filled with great reads for all ages.  Check it out!

Nibble Nibble

Nibble Nibble by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Wendell Minor.

Yes, yes, I know that I should save this for Poetry Friday, but I just adore this book.  It is one of those that if I had gotten a galley copy of it, I would have kept it all for myself and not shared with my library. 

These five rabbit poems were first published in 1959.  Margaret Wise Brown’s poetry demonstrates what children’s poems should be about, being both accessible and broadening at the same time.  My favorite is Nibble Nibble Nibble which repeats and repeats using different heartbeat sounds.  Here is the opening stanza:

Nibble Nibble Nibble
Goes the mouse in my heart
Nibble Nibble Nibble
Goes the mouse in my heart
Nibble Nibble Nibble
Goes the mouse in my heart
And the mouse in my heart is

The structure of the poem is both simple and powerful, but it also allows children to jump right in and create their own poetry on the spot.  At the end of sharing this with my five-year-old, I was being told that Snap Snap Snap, Goes the crab in his heart.  And it went on and on with new sounds and new animals.  This is exactly what I want books and poetry to do for children, given them a form to hold on to and then the opportunity to make it their own and use their own imagination and creativity.

And then let’s talk about the art!  What makes this version special are the incredible paintings by Minor which capture rabbits in all of their cute, fuzzy glory.  His paintings are naturalistic and vivid, erasing all of those too saccharine bunnies from your mind, you return to what rabbits are all about.  Fur, long ears, and jumps.  Lovely stuff.  I want that painting of the end of summer rabbit next to the milkweed.  Sigh.  Makes me think of my childhood playing in the tall grass.  Perfection.

Share these poems, love the language, appreciate the artistry.  This one is an absolute winner.

The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds

The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds by Marisabina Russo.

Three sweet little white bunnies are tucked in bed, warm and cozy.  All is quiet while Mama and Daddy sit reading downstairs.  But then they hear an odd noise coming from upstairs.  “Sounds like the bunnies are not in their beds.”  The parent bunnies put the children back to bed again, resume their quiet time downstairs, but are again interrupted by noise from above.  This happens again and again with the parents getting more and more irate at the behavior.  The ending is a fun twist for children who also hate to go to bed.

I love many things about this book.  First, there are the quiet moments of the parents downstairs, reassuringly dull and normal for children who assume that once they are in bed the parents start having real fun.  Then there are the odd noises from above that lead to the parents heading upstairs and then the page turn occurs where children listening to the story have a chance to guess what is causing the ruckus this time.  Nicely done to create a little intrigue and participation.  I also appreciate that while the parents are very patient at first, they do hit the end of their rope and finally list all of the things in a loud voice (or at least in capital letters) that the little bunnies are not to do at bedtime. 

Add this one to a spring storytime on bunnies or your pajama storytime about heading to bed.  Preschoolers will enjoy it most of all.

(In the interest of full disclosure, this was sent to me by the publisher.)

Andre Norton Award Nominees

Nominees for the 2006 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy have been announced! And what a great list it is!

  Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier.

Midnighters: Touching Darkness by Scott Westerfeld.

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld.

Devilish by Maureen Johnson.

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

Lady Friday

Lady Friday by Garth Nix.

This is book five in the Keys of the Kingdom series, which is a series perfect for kids who appreciate unique settings, quirky characters and fantasy. 

This fifth book is set in the Middle House.  Arthur now has four of the Keys and is seeking the fifth.  He is trying not to use the power of the fourth key on his quest because if he continues to use the power of the House then he will not be able to return to Earth and his family.  Leaf, one of Arthur’s human friends, has been captured by Lady Friday who delights in drinking the experiences of humans, leaving them without their memories.  Arthur’s own mother has been captured as well, driving him to confront Lady Friday and attempt a rescue. 

As always the settings of the series are amazingly creative and unique.  I loved the idea of charged water that carries items with writing on them ever higher up a series of locks.  The action in this piece of Arthur’s journey is slower and less frantic than in previous novels, but it is a relief after the battlefields of the 4th book in the series.  Nix seems always able to finesse the pacing of the novels to suit the setting. 

This is a must-read for those following the series.  It is also a series that should be recommended for kids who enjoy Harry Potter and are looking for an alternative.  The Keys series has its own sense of humor, lots of darkness, plenty of action, yet is entirely different than any other series.  It is not derivative at all.  Rather it is a flight of unfettered imagination bottled for fantasy lovers.

Green As a Bean

Green As a Bean by Karla Kuskin, illustrated by Melissa Iwai. 

If you were green what would you be?  A bean, a leaf, a blade of grass?  What?  Filled with language that is strong and evocative, this book features illustrations that are equally strong and vibrant.  Again and again the question is asked about what you would be. If you were square?  If you were loud?  If you were small?  What would you be?  The choices listed are just the tip of the iceberg and are varied and interesting enough to get children’s own imaginations going. 

This picture book is one that creates discussion when it is being read.  If you read it to a group, be prepared to hear all sorts of ideas and thoughts spontaneously shared.  I would encourage using it with an art project where kids could use the different colors and shapes and qualities in the book to create a picture of what they would be. 

Terrible Storm

Terrible Storm by Carol Otis Hurst, illustrated by S. D. Schindler.

This is the story of two of Carol Otis Hurst’s grandfathers who grew up near one anther and were friends since boyhood.  They couldn’t have been more different.  Walt is outgoing and happiest when in a crowd while Fred is quiet and enjoys being home alone working on projects.  Then a blizzard hits and Walt finds himself alone in a barn with only cats and farm animals for company while Fred is stuck in an inn filled with all sorts of people.  Both of them are horrified by where they are trapped.  Even as old men they still reminisce about the terrible storm.

I so enjoyed this book with its old-fashioned feel and great quiet sense of humor that is present in every picture.  The use of almost comic-like panels really emphasizes the juxtaposition of the two men and their discomfort with their predicament. 

Add this to your snowy story times, especially if you are sharing stories with kindergarteners or older.  They will appreciate it more than preschoolers. 

Silly Billy

Silly Billy by Anthony Browne.

Anthony Browne is one of my favorite picture book authors.  He has a wonderfully skewed perspective and his art is unique and great fun. 

With Silly Billy, Browne introduces Billy who is a bit of a worrier.  He worries about everything while trying to fall asleep.  And I mean everything from hats to shoes to giant birds.  Even though his father and mother try to reassure him, it doesn’t work.  Then when he is staying over at his grandmother’s house, she gives him some worry dolls.  And they work at least for a little while, until Billy begins to worry about the dolls being worried.  In the end, Billy solves that problem and moves on with a lot fewer worries.

The text and illustrations work well together, as they always do in Browne’s books.  His deep colors work especially well when contrasted with the almost colorless worry pages.  The blissful pictures of Billy fast asleep are perfection. 

So many kids carry worries around with them and this gives a creative solution to dealing with those overwhelming worries.  Pair it with Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes, and you have the start of a bibliotherapy session.  Just kidding!  But they do make a nice pairing.

ATN Reading Lists

I have found an incredible resource for reading lists for kids that feature lists by genre, read alikes, recommended read alouds for all ages, themed lists, and much much more. atn-reading-lists simply rocks! They are now a wiki, so that everyone can help contribute to and update the reading lists. This is definitely a place to have bookmarked if you are creating your own lists for your library. What a resource!