Calendar by Myra Cohn Livingston, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.

This simple book that follows the months of the year offers just a line per page making it perfect for young children.  Livingston has created a poem that sings along the year and has a mix of both traditional and surprising touches.  Some of the surprising touches will get readers to look more closely at the illustrations and others will have readers smiling with pleasure and agreement. 

Hillenbrand’s illustrations have a mix of collage and painting.  They are bold, bright and will project well to a group.  The first page “January shivers” is evocative of Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day with its child in red on a snowy background.  Even the collage technique evokes Keats’ art.  Many of the illustrations have a sense of motion and joy.  There is a playfulness but also an art to the illustrations. 

Recommended when doing calendars with children in preschool and kindergarten, this book will get children thinking of what they enjoy about the different months of the year. 


Chester by Melanie Watt

Author Melanie Watt is trying to write a book about a mouse, but her cat Chester is trying to get her to write a book about HIM.  So Melanie will write a page, and Chester will take his red pen and edit it to suit his story.  It leads to a power struggle between the author and her cat, filled with laugh-out-loud funny moments. Who will win in the end?  You’ll just have to read and laugh along to find out.

The illustrations are great fun here, because Chester does his best to change the detailed illustrations with his red marker.  Watt has done a fine job of creating two styles of illustration laid together.  She has also written a book that reads aloud very well with lots of personality and energy. 

This is one of those books that will get a classroom of children just shouting with laughter.  I highly recommend sharing this with a group of children ages 5-8.  The humor will draw in even the most jaded of elementary school children. 

Costa Awards Shortlist

The short list for the Costa Awards (formerly the Whitbread) has been announced.  The four children’s books shortlisted are:

Because this is a British award, some of the books are not yet available in the States.  Amazon lists all of the titles, but they don’t seem to have copies of them available.  The Rosoff title is being released in the U.S. in 2008.