2013 Indies Choice–Picture Book Hall of Fame

The American Booksellers Association has announced the finalists for their awards.  Their awards celebrate the books that make indie booksellers great as well as the great read aloud books.  Winners will be announced on April 18th.  There will be one winner in each category except the Picture Book Hall of Fame below where three books will be inducted.


Bread and Jam for Frances Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Caps for Sale

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobokina

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Good Night, Gorilla

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Harold and the Purple Crayon If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

815234 Stellaluna

The Napping House by Audrey Wood

Stellaluna by Janelle Cannon

Strega Nona The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

Review: The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia

garden of my imaan

The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia

Aliya is different than the other kids in her class because she’s Muslim.  She does all she can to fit in, but that means she doesn’t stand up to the kids who pick on her or even talk to the cute boy she likes.  Then Marwa moves to their town and she is in the same grade as Aliya.  Marwa is also Muslim and wears the hijab or head scarf.  Marwa also does not just put up with the teasing of others and appears to Aliya to be much more confident than Aliya personally feels.  Aliya starts to write letters to Allah which start out as just complaints at first and then lead to something more: action.  As Aliya begins to deal with her own insecurities, she discovers that the world is much more accepting of differences if they are handled with confidence.

Zia has created a universal story with a Muslim heroine.  Children of all faiths will recognize themselves in these pages.  They will have struggled with teasing and bullying, they will have tried too hard to fit in, they will have not liked someone at first and then learned to like them.  Zia incorporates details about Zia’s Indian culture, her faith, and her family traditions with great skill, handily defining things with skill and ease.

It is wonderful to see a young heroine whose life includes cute boys but is not driven by it.  Faith, family and friendship are really at the heart of this novel, but Aliya is definitely a young girl too.  She struggles with issues in a way that shows definite growth in a natural way.  Zia writes with a wonderful lightness that makes this book an effortless read. 

Filled with giggles between girlfriends, this book reveals the warmth of family and faith in a completely approachable and joyful way.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Peachtree Publishers.

Review: The Dark by Lemony Snicket


The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Laszlo is scared of the dark.  You know, that darkness that is always there, hiding in corners and behind the shower curtain, and especially the dark that lives down in the basement.  At night the dark would spread around the entire old creaky house and all of its staircases, but in the day it retreated to the basement.  Laszlo would visit the dark every morning, from the top of the steps into the black basement.  He would say hi, thinking that maybe then the dark wouldn’t feel the need to visit him in his room at night anymore.  But that didn’t work, the dark still came at night.  Luckily Laszlo slept with a flashlight on his pillow and a nightlight on the wall, so the dark stayed away.  That is until one night when his nightlight burned out and the dark started talking to Laszlo.

I can’t think of a stronger author and illustrator match than this one.  Snicket turns on the creep factor in this book in a way that will have children leaning in closer, cuddling tighter, and listening to every single word.  There are the noises of the house, the scary basement, and the series of staircases.  But mostly there is the darkness itself, a second character in the book and written about with almost poetic phrasing.  This is one beautifully written book.

Klassen plays so much with light and shadow here.  He uses the darkness beautifully as both a frame for his images but also as the thick lines of objects.  Then there are the pictures of the cool daylight and the fierce warmth of the nightlight that burns almost like a flame.  This is one beautifully illustrated book.

One of my favorite picture books of the year, this book reads aloud perfectly, the tension growing and growing until it’s almost explosive.  One can almost hear the dark chuckling along.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

2013 E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards

The American Booksellers Association has announced the finalists for their awards.  Their awards celebrate the books that make indie booksellers great as well as the great read aloud books.  Winners will be announced on April 18th. 


The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1) The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1) The One and Only Ivan

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Neilsen

The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1 by Jasper Fforde

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao

Same Sun Here Three Times Lucky Wonder

Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Wonder by RJ Palacio



13170028 Creepy Carrots!

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead

Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown

Extra Yarn Oh, No!

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Oh, No! by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Too Tall Houses Z Is for Moose

Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino

Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky