Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illlustrated by Brian Pinkney

Inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. four young men sat at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1, 1960.  They placed their simple order of a doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side, and sat quietly, refusing to comply with the Whites Only rule.  The next day, more people joined them, sitting still for what was right.  The sit-ins got bigger and moved beyond lunch counters to buses, parks and libraries.  The students were jailed for loafing, but they didn’t resist.  All of these brave actions led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Pinkney has written this book with such verve and style that it reads like a King speech.  Throughout, she has woven the threads of the lunch counter, coffee and recipes, reminding readers again and again where it all started.  Her use of repetition and poetic style really make the book sing.  Brian Pinkney’s illustrations are done in watercolor and India ink.  They capture the time with an exuberant style that is filled with colors and the swirls of motion.  Though the people sit still, the illustrations are in motion, moving to the future with them.

Highly recommended, this book truly captures the wonder of this time, the courage it took to sit still, and the progress that was made.  This husband and wife team have created a powerful book about a vital time in our history.  Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from copy received from Little Brown and Company.

Also reviewed by Muddy Puddle Musings and Wild Geese Guides.


Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Released April 15, 2010.

In this small novel, Erskine has combined the tragedy of a school shooting with the unique voice of Asperger’s syndrome.  Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has been killed in a school shooting along with others.  As Caitlin struggles to understand the emotions around her and the feelings she herself has, she has to do it for the first time without her brother helping her.  She tries to do it without flapping her hands, without burying herself in her father’s sweater, but she does retreat to her safe places like under the dresser in Devon’s room.  Her world is black and white, just like her award-winning drawings, color only confuses things.  But as the days go by, Caitlin begins to connect with other people in new ways and perhaps through her own literal understanding of things she just might find closure and help others find it too.

I don’t feel that I can encapsulate this book in a paragraph.  It is so much larger than I can describe, so much more profound and uplifting.  Erskine has taken two ideas that seem very divergent and created something amazing from them.  The two become more vital and important joined into a single book than they would have been separately.  Caitlin’s own grief is explored in such a literal and detached way that it becomes even more painful to witness.  Her inability to speak her emotions hands them over to the reader to feel for her.  We all become a part of her syndrome and feel it to our bones.

Through the lens of Caitlin readers also get to witness the grief of others.  Get to wince when Caitlin puts something too bluntly.  Cry when she is unable to understand.  Rejoice when connection is made, no matter how small.  Through Caitlin we get to see difference as a sliding scale that we too fit on somewhere.

This is a book about one family, one tragedy, one girl, but it reaches far beyond that.  It is a book about surviving, about scrambling for connections, about living life in color.  It is about fear, about being alone, and about reaching out despite how very hard it is.

I think we are going to hear a lot about this book with its large scope of ideas offered in a small package through the eyes of a brilliant girl.  I hope we do hear a lot about it.  It should be read in classrooms, discussed and embraced. 

Beautifully written, this book has the power to unite.  Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from Advanced Reader Copy provided by Philomel.

2010 Astrid Lindgren Award

Kitty Crowther has won the 2010 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children’s literature.  She is a Belgian illustrator and author of more than 30 books.

The award comes with a 5 million kroner prize, about $620,000.

2010 Bistro Book of the Year Awards Shortlist

Ten books have been named to the shortlist for the best children’s books in Ireland.  The winners will be announced on Monday, May 24th.

An Greasaí Bróg agus na Síoga by Catríona Hastings, illustrated by Andrew Hastings

Chalkline by Jane Mitchell

Gluaiseacht by Alan Titley

Colm and the Lazarus Key by Kieran Mark Crowley

Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by PJ Lynch

Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd


The Eyeball Collector by FE Higgins

The Gates by John Connolly

The Third Pig Detective Agency by Bob Burke

There by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick


Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for the link!