Booklist Top 10 Graphic Novels

Booklist has the 2009 Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth up.  A great list for libraries who may have rows of manga series but don’t quite know what to get in the latest graphic novels.

I’m very happy to see Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan on the list.  I’ve reviewed it.  Any other favorites?

My People

My People by Langston Hughes, photographs by Charles R. Smith, Jr.

Langston Hughes’ powerful and simple poem is brilliantly accompanied by Charles R. Smith’s transcendent photographs.  Each photograph illustrates the beauty, depth and soul of being an African-American today.  From close ups of lined hands to the joy of a baby’s giggle, the photographs span ages.  The photographs are clear, purposefully done and gripping.

Highly recommended, this book belongs in every public library.  It is a joy to read the powerful poem and have it illustrated with such skill.  Appropriate for all ages.

Children's Choice Book Awards

The Children’s Book Council has announced the finalists for the 2009 Children’s Choice Book Awards.  Winners will be announced during Children’s Book Week in May (May 11-17).

Here are the finalists:

Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year:

The Donut Chef by Bob Staake

Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! written and illustrated by Mo Willems

Sort It Out! by Barbara Mariconda, illustrated by Sherry Rogers

Those Darn Squirrels  by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Third Grade to Fourth Grade Book of the Year

Babymouse: Puppy Love by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

One Million Things by Peter Chrisp 

Spooky Cemeteries by Dinah Williams 

Underwear: What We Wear Under There by Ruth Freeman Swain

Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan, illustrated by Cyd Moore 

Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year

100 Most Dangerous Things On the Planet by Anna Claybourne

Amulet, Book One: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

The Big Field by Mike Lupica

Swords: An Artist’s Devotion by Ben Boos

Thirteen by Lauren Myracle

Teen Choice Book Award

Airhead by Meg Cabot

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Paper Towns by John Green


Author of the Year

Jeff Kinney

Stephenie Meyer

Christopher Paolini

James Patterson

Rick Riordan

Illustrator of the Year

Laura Cornell

Robin Preiss Glasser

Mo Willems

David Shannon

John J Muth

2009 Agatha Awards

Malice Domestic has announced the nominees for the 2009 Agatha Awards.  The awards are given to mystery and crime writers who write in the traditional method. 

Here are the nominees for Best Children’s/Young Adult:

Into the Dark by Peter Abrahams

A Thief in the Theater (A Kit Mystery) by Sarah Masters Buckey

The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein

The Great Circus Train Robbery by Nancy Means Wright


I am loving Glogster!  A poster-building website where you can use video, images, fonts and more to express yourself.  Create your own poster for a band, library event, or for a new book coming out.  Twilight would be awesome!  I can see using these for displays too.

Another option is to do a teen program and offer them the ability to print their posters for free. 

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness by Colin Thompson

George lived alone with his grandmother.  He spent his Friday afternoons at the dog shelter.  He felt most at home in the dark of the last cage where the dogs spent their final days before being euthanized.  George was surprised to find a small dog looking back at him rather than cowering in the back of the cage.  The two stared at one another and a connection was made.  The pound was about to close, but George ran home to tell his grandmother about the dog.  The hairy dog had three legs so George carries him home.  As they tried to figure out a solution for the three legs, the dog began to change George’s attitude and his grandmother’s.

Both the text and illustrations are quirky in such a wonderful way.  The text laments that dogs can’t smile, emphasizes the hopelessness of George and the dogs at the pound, and explains the ugliness of the dog in a vivid way:

"Why would you want him? We’ve got 87 other dogs here.  They’ve all got four legs and bright eyes and a coat that doesn’t look like it’s covered in lard."

The illustrations have depth, character and their own style.  There are so many small touches that surprise but offer a new take on life.  The grandmother’s face has some wrinkles, but the best part is that her skin is done in a crackled glaze so she looks like her paint is about to chip off.  The wallpaper at their home is not dingy, the counter at the pound covered in a lifetime of paw prints, and small pieces of newspaper go everywhere during a papier-mache project.

Because of the question of a dog in a pound being euthanized, adults may not want to use this with sensitive kids.  But those children who veer toward the dark and depressed with find a kindred spirit here as well as hope galore.

The Uglified Ducky

The Uglified Ducky by Willy Claflin, illustrated by James Stimson

Meet Maynard Moose, a moose who finds himself in a family of ducks!  Maynard wandered away from his "moosely nest" and falls asleep near a duck nest.  Mommy Ducky is alarmed when she sees how horribly ugly the baby moose is and hopes that her other eggs will come out better.  Mommy Ducky tries to raise Maynard the best she can.  She tries to teach him to quack, but he can only Gronk, Arooo!  She tries to teach him to swim, but his hooves don’t paddle well in water.  When she takes him to Dr. Quack, he worries about the lumps forming on Maynard’s head and bandages him up.  When the Ducky family practices flying, Maynard is left behind and wanders sadly into the forest.  There he finds a lake with large moose and his own special place in life.

Claflin has taken his storytelling style and transposed it whole-heartedly to the page.  It is impossible to read this book aloud and not do voices.  Each character is written with interesting sounds, unique speech patterns, and great noises are worked into the text too.  Stimson’s illustrations are modern and very funny as well, matching the tone and style of the story. 

Highly recommended for reading aloud, this book will make a storyteller of you.  I would also recommend it for anyone who has a storytelling class where you have to read a book aloud.  This one is perfection for it.  Children and adults will enjoy the tale and its style.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

All in a Day

All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Nikki McClure

Rylant’s poetry moves through a day filled with work, blue sky, kindness, faith and rest.  It is accompanied by the stunning paper cut artwork of McClure, which elevates this simple book to a new level.  The tiny details are what make this book work so well.  Children will enjoy poring over the illustrations as Rylant’s poem carries them on to the next. 

Personally, I love all of the little touches.  The untied shoelace, the beauty of birchbark, the small whorls of peas, and dandelion fuzz blowing past.  All of these small pieces combine to create a world that we will all recognize and embrace, just as Rylant’s poem unites us all in a single day.

Highly recommended, this book is a lovely gem that has a similar palate to The House in the Night.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Red House Children's Book Award

The 2009 Red House Children’s Book Award Shortlist has been announced.  This is the only national book award in the UK that is voted on entirely by children. 

Younger Children

The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg (my review)

Beware of the Frog by William Bee (my review)

A Lark in the Ark by Peter Bently

The Three Horrid Pigs and the Big Friendly Wolf by Liz Pichon


Younger Readers

CIA: The Wild West Moo-nster by Steve Cole

Daisy and the Trouble with Zoos by Kes Gray

The Cat Who Liked Rain by Henning Mankell


Older Readers

Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford

Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie

Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine