PW has released their list of the Best Children’s and YA Books of 2018. They represent the top 50 books of the year out of the 1700 children’s and YA books published in 2018 that PW reviewed. Here are their picks for the best picture books:
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson
The Crocodile and the Dentist by Taro Gomi
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
The Elephant by Jenni Desmond
The Eye That Never Sleeps: How Detective Pinkerton Saved President Lincoln by Marissa Moss, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes
Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
Julian Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Kitten and the Night Watchman by John Sullivan, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Julia Sarda
The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke, illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year edited by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon
Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc
The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee
The winners of the 2018 Environment Award for Children’s Literature have been announced. The award is given annually by The Wilderness Society in Australia and is celebrating its 25th year. The winners are books that promote a love of nature in children. Here are the winners:
Florette by Anna Walker
Wombat Warriors by Samantha Wheeler
Coral Sea Dreaming by Kim Michelle Toft
Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver
Our Celebración! by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Ana Aranda (9781620142714)
A community heads to a celebration together in this vibrant picture book that offers a mix of Spanish and English. The celebration features a large parade with fantastic floats, marching bands, fire engines and much more. There is plenty of delicious food to try and refreshing drinks to sip. When the rain begins, the fun doesn’t stop, though everyone celebrates when the sunshine returns bringing with it a celebratory rainbow.
Elya does a marvelous job of offering Spanish words for children to learn. Almost all of them can be figured out from the context in the poem. I appreciate that she uses the Spanish words for many of the rhymes, rather than burying them in the center of the lines. This makes them all the more enjoyable to read aloud and great fun to figure out. The book will also welcome Spanish-speaking children and allow them to decode the English as well. It is a cleverly built picture book.
Aranda’s illustrations are filled with brilliant colors of sunshine yellow, deep purples, bright blues, and hot pinks. They show a diverse community celebrating together with big smiles, lots of fun and whimsical parade participants.
A bright and busy picture book that dynamically includes Spanish and English. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (9781338209969)
Marinka never asked to be a Yaga, but since she is the granddaughter of a Baba Yaga, she has been learning to speak with the dead and guide them through the Gate and into the stars. All Marinka really wants is to make a real human friend and do things that other twelve-year-olds do. Making friends is nearly impossible though when you live in a house with chicken legs that can move you all over the world overnight. So when Marinka gets another chance to make friends with someone, she takes it, even if it breaks all of the rules that she has been taught. As her decision changes her entire life, Marinka is left to figure out who she really is and what she wants to be.
Anderson has a clear love of Russian folktales, taking a beautiful view of Baba Yaga and giving her a larger community, more chicken-footed houses and a longing for family. The folktales at the center of the book continue to reverberate throughout the story, offering Marinka distinct choices. Marinka makes her own decisions though, ones that readers will not agree with though they might understand. As her situation grows direr, Marinka becomes almost unlikeable, and yet Anderson is able to bring us back to loving her by the end.
Anderson surrounds Marinka with a beautiful and rich world. There is her own Baba Yaga, filling the house with good cooking, lots of love and ghosts every evening. Then there is Jack, Marinka’s pet jackdaw, who sits on her shoulder and puts pieces of food in people’s ears and socks. A baby lamb soon joins them as well. Yet by far, the most compelling member of Marinka’s home is the house itself. Filled with personality and opinions, the house is intelligent and ever-changing.
A dynamic retelling of the Baby Yaga folktale, this picture book offers a big world of magic and ghosts to explore. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Scholastic.
The long list of nominations for the 2019 CILIP Carnegie Medal has been announced. The Carnegie Medal is awarded by UK children’s librarians for an outstanding book written in English for children.
At the same time, the long list for the 2019 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal was also announced. The Greenaway Medal is awarded by UK children’s librarians for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children.
The long lists are seriously long, so I’ll post the full shortlists here when they are announced in March. The winners will be revealed in June 2019.
Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc (9781616897239)
Every Sunday, Mrs. Badger walks to the mountain peak. Along the way, she greets her various animal friends and finds gifts to give others later. She helps anyone who needs it too. When a young cat asks to share Mrs. Badger’s snack, she invites the cat along to the mountaintop. They need to find the little cat her own walking stick and take breaks along the way, but the two eventually make it to the peak. They enjoy one another’s company and the trip so much that they continue to make the trek together again and again. Eventually, Mrs. Badger grows older and has to be the one taking breaks and finally she can’t make the trip any longer. The cat continues to make the walk, finding her own young animal to mentor on the way.
This gentle picture book has such depth to it. Mrs. Badger is a fabulous character, exhibiting deep kindness and thoughtfulness for others. She knows everyone she encounters on the walk and makes connections easily. She demonstrates how to make and keep friends with all of her actions. This becomes even more clear as she walks with the young cat, teaching them how to make the long climb to the peak. The book can be read as a metaphor for life but children can also simply enjoy the story of the friendly badger and a young cat who become friends.
Dubuc’s illustrations move from full pages of images to smaller unframed pictures that offer a varied feel throughout the book. She makes sure to have a special feeling when the characters make it to the mountaintop. The vista is striking but it is the journey itself that makes the book sing.
A quiet book about connections and community. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Here are some items I shared on Twitter this week:
12 Picture Books That Showcase Native Voices, from via :
30 Thanksgiving Books for the Little Ones In Your Life
Debating the Best Way to Teach a Child to Read – https://t.co/thosNuygXa
The Everlasting Joy of Terrifying Children – The Atlantic
“I feel strongly that by reading with your child, by the simple act of holding them close while you read to them, you let them know that you care for them, have time for them and love them.” –
LGBT+ people erased from books in Russia with ‘gay propaganda’ law | Reuters
‘Nostalgia’ wins Children’s Book of the Year award for Arabic Children’s Literature Awards
Royal Mint rejected Roald Dahl coin over antisemitic views
The Soviet Children’s Books That Broke the Rules of Propaganda
After man burns LGBTQ children’s books, donations to Orange City library skyrocket
New Calgary Public Library opens – 660 CITYNEWS
Epic Reads Partners with Emma Roberts’s Book Club on ‘Why Not YA?’
There are a whole host of YA books you need to get stuck into this month including – https://t.co/K8eJb6YVHi
Tiny Books Fit in One Hand. Will They Change the Way We Read?
Young Adult Fantasy Novels That Sweep Readers Away
The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker, illustrated by Mark Pett (9781419725746)
The very last castle stands in the middle of a small town. No one ever goes into the castle and no one ever comes out. A single guard looks out from the tower. The townspeople can hear noises coming from the castle. Some think it might be monsters, others think it could be giants or snakes. Ibb is a girl who lives in the town and thinks about the castle a lot. One day, she gathers her courage and knocks on the huge castle door, but no one answers and she hears a terrible hiss. Soon afterward, Ibb gets an invitation to appear at the castle gate on Sunday. Ibb goes to the castle and is let inside where she discovers the source of the noises and forms a new connection with the man who lives there.
Jonker’s first picture book is impressive. He uses a traditional picture book tone here built on wonder and curiosity. The incorporation of the various noises that emanate from the castle is a very nice touch, making the book all the more fun to share aloud. His writing is focused and tight and the story can be read both as a straightforward tale but also as an allegory for the walls we build in our lives.
Pett creates a winning young heroine for readers, someone who firmly roots this book in the modern age with her backpack and school days. The juxtaposition between the ancient castle and the young girl works particularly well. The art is playful and the reveal of the interior of the castle is worth the suspense.
A picture book worth exploring. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy provided by Abrams.
King Alice by Matthew Cordell (9781250047496)
Home on a snow day with her family, Alice declares herself “King Alice” and demands that her father plays with her. They settle on making a book together, a story about King Alice and her royal knights. At first, the book is really short, just one chapter. But after her parents suggest that there may be more to the tale, Alice has more ideas. She occasionally takes a break to play with toys but is soon back again creating more chapters. After lunch, the idea is a Unicorn Party in the book but when King Alice gets too enthusiastic and hits her father with her unicorn toy she has to sit in time out. With apologies made, the book and the story continue with new ideas all the way through dinner, bathtime and in bed.
There is such honest on the pages of this picture book. From parents who are loving and also set limits and consequences to Alice’s attention span for a large project like this. It is delightful to have a creative process documented with new ideas taking time but also being immensely exciting. Alice’s parents are involved, but it is also her book done with her father’s support. It’s great when he is caught up in the project and Alice is ready to walk away.
The illustrations are loose and flowing. They show an active family willing to make messes with their daughter. Alice’s book is shown in crayon illustrations and neatly written words by her father.
A creative and imaginative picture book sure to be king of the shelves. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Feiwel and Friends.