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Click to search this book in our catalog Schools First Day of School.
by Adam Rex

Book list *Starred Review* First-day jitters are a frequent picture-book topic, but this one has a surprising twist: the nervous one is the school building. Frederick Douglass Elementary is a brand-new school, and so far, he only knows the janitor. The first day is coming, however, and School is worried that the kids won't like him. First, he overhears some older kids say they hate school; then a freckled girl doesn't even want to come inside. I must be awful, School thinks to himself. But soon, the day picks up. He hears a funny joke at lunchtime, he learns about shapes, and the freckled girl paints a lovely picture of him that the teacher pins to the wall (it hurts a little, but School doesn't mind). Robinson's blocky, naive-style paintings set just the right tone, and the subtle faces on all the buildings hint that School's not the only building with feelings. Meanwhile, Rex doesn't play the gag only for laughs; rather, he seamlessly weaves School's dialogue into the tale, as if he's just another student in the classroom. With bold illustrations featuring a diverse array of children and text that's ideal for reading aloud, this charming reversal of first-day-of-school nerves will delight little ones and help put their own anxieties at bay.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-Step aside, other first day of school books: there's a new school in town. After construction and a summer of tender loving care from the janitor, Frederick Douglass Elementary's first day finally arrives. And what a day it is: hordes of children with all their feelings, mess, noise, new concepts, and even a fire alarm (which the school finds deeply embarrassing). Worried but curious, impetuous, and vulnerable, the school works as a perfect proxy for nervous child readers. Rex's warm and goofy text is brought to life by Robinson's vivid collage illustrations. His signature round-headed, tulip-handed figures are diverse and appealing, from the supportive janitor to the "little girl with freckles" who slowly warms up to school at the same time that the school is warming up to the children. VERDICT A+: an essential purchase that is simultaneously funny, frank, and soothing. A perfect first day read-aloud.-Sarah Stone, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-Newly constructed Frederick Douglass Elementary is preparing to open his doors. He's a bit anxious and wonders if he'll pass the biggest test of all and win the approval of the swarms of kids who arrive as the school year begins. Rex's warm, funny, and emotionally resonant text is superbly complemented by Robinson's engaging and vivacious collage artwork. A clever and playful look at first-day jitters. Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Every so often, a book comes along with a premise so perfect, it's hard to believe it hasn't been done before; this is one of those books. As a new school year begins, it isn't just the students who have trepidations: the building doesn't quite know what to expect either, and overheard comments such as "I don't like school" aren't helping. "Maybe it doesn't like you either," thinks the school in response. But even amid lunchtime spills and an embarrassing fire drill "accident," the school comes to understand that facilitating the noisy, messy activities of the school day are quite literally what he was made to do. Robinson (Last Stop on Market Street) gives the school just a hint of visual personification in his flattened, paint-and-collage artwork, as Rex (Moonday) deftly juggles well-placed jokes and keen insights into feeling comfortable in one's own skin-or bricks, as the case may be. Ages 4-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (June) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Flora and the Flamingo
by Molly Idle

Publishers Weekly Without providing a backstory for the eponymous pair's curious meeting, Idle (Nighty Night, Noah) imagines a wordless encounter between a lithe, sultry flamingo and a pudgy little girl in a bathing suit, swim cap, and flippers. The call-and-response nature of their dance-the flamingo poses in a series of sinuous movements on the left, Flora does her awkward best to mimic them on the right-produces a series of beautifully lighthearted tableaus. At first, Flora models her movements on the flamingo's, unbeknownst to the bird. A series of stumbles draws a sharp reaction from the flamingo and a sulk from Flora, but the flamingo relents and the two collaborate on a graceful duet that ends with a joyous flourish. Inset flaps add drama by revealing new poses, and Idle's crisp, confident drafting produces a reading experience akin to flipping through a series of animation cells. There's an undertone of a growing-up story, too, as Flora almost seems to shed childhood self-consciousness and take her first tentative steps into womanhood. It's seamless and dynamic visual storytelling. Ages 3-up. Agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-This charming story begs to be an animated short-unsurprising, given the author's animation background-yet it works remarkably well as a wordless lift-the-flap book. Sparely illustrated, its full-spread white backgrounds with delicate pink-blossom borders emphasize the actions of the two protagonists. A lone flamingo lands onto the nearly blank expanse of the title page. Soon, it is joined by little Flora, who provides a sweetly round counterpoint to the angular bird. She furtively imitates the flamingo's moves with utmost concentration and extremely comical poses until it catches on and squawks angrily, driving her away in a sulk. Friendship triumphs in the end, and the unlikely couple dance together and joyously cannonball into water on the last double foldout page. As neither flamingos nor little girls are known for their inherent elegance, the duo's surprisingly graceful moves are reminiscent of dancing hippos and ostriches from Disney's Fantasia. This delightful romp is a worthy addition to most collections and will appeal to flamingo and ballet fans alike.-Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Picture Book Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog And If the Moon Could Talk
by Kate Banks

Publishers Weekly With quiet phrases and luxurious color, Banks and Hallensleben (Baboon) evoke a perfectly peaceful bedtime. In a stuccoed house, amid tranquil lakes and orderly rows of trees, a girl plays with stuffed animals and listens to a story read by her father. Far away, the moon glows on tall hills, desert, jungle and ocean, where people and wild animals prepare for sleep. Full-bleed spreads expertly relate the text's alternating descriptions of relaxed interior and exterior scenes. In the child's bedroom "on a small table sits a glass, a wooden boat, a starfish, too." Hallensleben connects the spread that follows, "if the moon could talk, it would tell of waves washing onto the beach, shells, and a crab resting," with a painting of boats bobbing on a tranquil sea, whose color gently echoes the water glass on the bedside table of the previous spread. The story closes with the child tucked into bed and the moon whispering, "Good night." Hallensleben complements the hushed narrative with warm cushions of paint: the girl's thick blanket is egg-yolk yellow with orange-red dots and the pillows are as deep blue as the night sky. The outdoor panoramas have the same intimacy, whether they feature a lioness and her cubs, or a red tractor lumbering toward a yellow-lit farmhouse. As night gently envelops the landscapes, the words and art convey the snug warmth of a featherbed and a world as small as a neighborhood. Ages 3-5. (Mar.)

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Ages 3^-5. The author and the illustrator of Spider Spider (1996) and Baboon (1997) offer a cousin to the classic Goodnight Moon, suffused with a similar sense of comfortable, comforting domestic intimacy. As night falls, a child's bedtime routine echoes the outdoor scenes on alternating spreads: she sits in her father's lap looking at a picture of camels and listening to a story that "unfolds like a banner wandering across the sky," while sand blows across a distant desert; just as a light flicks on in the hall, stars appear over a small town; and a bit later, while birds are settling down in a cozy nest, her mother tucks her in with a hug. Hallensleben uses a large brush and bright, vigorously applied colors to give each scene an expressionistic intensity of feeling. With its features only faint, suggestive swirls, the moon lights woodlands, desert, a tranquil beach, a lion licking her cubs, and, at the end, the sleeping child snuggled down under a comforter--but the visual links go far beyond that, as bedroom objects, animals, and even color combinations consistently recur in different but related forms outside. Using heightened but not self-consciously "poetic" language, Banks opens her patterned text on a strong note ("A window yawns open. Twilight blazes a trail across the wall.") that progressively subsides to a murmurous conclusion. A study in verbal and visual harmony from the title on. --John Peters

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal K-Gr 2?In this quiet lyrical story by the collaborators of Baboon (Farrar, 1997), a sense of peace prevails. Evening approaches. Inside, a child goes through her bedtime rituals?a story, a glass of water, a hug from Mama. Outside, the moon shines down on a world slowly preparing for nighttime?stars appear, wind rocks a tree, a lion licks her cubs. The deeply saturated tones of the lovely, impressionistic oil paintings perfectly match the somnolent feeling of the text. Moonlight illuminates the countryside while warm colors exude a cozy ambiance in the house. The repetitious text adds to the subdued mood. Perfect for one-on-one sharing, this book will enhance bedtime story collections.?Anne Knickerbocker, Cedar Brook Elementary School, Houston, TX

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Breaking Stalins Nose
by Eugene Yelchin

School Library Journal Gr 5-7-Velchin skillfully combines narrative with dramatic black-and-white illustrations to tell the story of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin. Sasha Zaichik, the 10-year-old son of a member of the secret police, is bursting with pride because he is ready to become a Young Pioneer. He is equally excited that his father will be officiating at the ceremony. But then he watches as his father is taken away to prison, turned in by a neighbor vying for bigger living quarters. Sasha joins his peers in taunting Borka Finkelstein, their only Jewish classmate, even though readers sense that he doesn't really want to do it. The question of who is a good Communist underlies much of the plot. The book's intriguing title refers to Sasha's accidentally breaking the nose off a bust of Stalin. Borka, desperate to see his imprisoned parents, confesses to the action, with the hope that he will be taken to prison, too. Sasha does not admit his own guilt. Eventually disillusionment overtakes homeless Sasha as he waits in line to visit his father. Velchin's illustrations are filled with pathos and breathe life into the narrative. Though there are many two-dimensional characters, mostly among the adults, Sasha and Borka are more fully drawn. While the story was obviously created to shed light on the oppression, secrecy, and atrocities under Stalin's regime, Sasha's emotions ring true. This is an absorbing, quick, multilayered read in which predictable and surprising events intertwine. Velchin clearly dramatizes the dangers of blindly believing in anything. Along with Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Gray (Philomel, 2011), this selection gives young people a look at this dark history.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Growing up under Stalin, Sasha Zaichik, 10, lives with his widower dad and 48 others in a crowded apartment with one kitchen and one toilet. Sasha's dream is to be like his father, serving the great leader and working in the State Security secret police. Then his dad is arrested: did a neighbor betray him? At school, Sasha is recruited to report on anticommunist activity. The present-tense narrative is true to the young kid's naive viewpoint, but the story is for older readers, especially as the shocking revelations reach the climax of what torture can make you confess. Picture-book illustrator Yelchin was raised in post-Stalinist Russia in the 1960s and left the country when he was 27. In his first novel, he uses the child's innocent viewpoint to dramatize the heartbreaking secrets and lies, and graphite illustrations show the terrifying arrests of enemies of the people, even children, like Sasha's classmate. In an afterword, Yelchin discusses the history and the brutal regime that affected millions.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Picture book author/illustrator Yelchin (Won Ton) makes an impressive middle-grade debut with this compact novel about a devoted young Communist in Stalin-era Russia, illustrated with dramatically lit spot art. Ten-year-old Sasha lives with his father, a State Security secret policeman whom he worships (almost as much as he worships Stalin), and 46 others in a communal apartment. The story opens on the eve of the fulfillment of Sasha's dream-to become a Young Soviet Pioneer-and traces the downward spiral of the following 24 hours, as he resists his growing understanding that his beloved Communist state is far from ideal. Through Sasha's fresh and optimistic voice, Yelchin powerfully renders an atmosphere of fear that forces false confessions, even among schoolchildren, and encourages neighbors and family members to betray one another without evidence. Readers will quickly pick up on the dichotomy between Sasha's ardent beliefs and the reality of life under Stalinism, and be glad for his ultimate disillusion, even as they worry for his future. An author's note concisely presents the chilling historical background and personal connection that underlie the story. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Rebecca Caudill Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Holes
by Louis Sachar

Publishers Weekly : This wry and loopy novel about a camp for juvenile delinquents in a dry Texas desert (once the largest lake in the state) by the author of There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom and the Wayside School series has some serious undercurrents. Stanley Yelnats (appropriately enough for a story about reversals, the protagonist's name is a palindrome) gets sent to Camp Green Lake to do penance, "a camp for bad boys." Never mind that Stanley didn't commit the crime he has been convicted of--he blames his bad luck on his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather." He digs five-foot-deep holes with all the other "bad" boys under the baleful direction of the Warden, perhaps the most terrifying female since Big Nurse. Just when it seems as though this is going to be a weird YA cross between One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Cool Hand Luke, the story takes off--along with Stanley, who flees camp after his buddy Zero--in a wholly unexpected direction to become a dazzling blend of social commentary, tall tale and magic realism. Readers (especially boys) will likely delight in the larger-than-life (truly Texas-style) manner in which Sachar fills in all the holes, as he ties together seemingly disparate story threads to dispel ghosts from the past and give everyone their just deserts. Ages 12-up.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 5-8-Stanley Yelnats IV has been wrongly accused of stealing a famous baseball player's valued sneakers and is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention home where the boys dig holes, five feet deep by five feet across, in the miserable Texas heat. It's just one more piece of bad luck that's befallen Stanley's family for generations as a result of the infamous curse of Madame Zeroni. Overweight Stanley, his hands bloodied from digging, figures that at the end of his sentence, he'll "...either be in great physical condition or else dead." Overcome by the useless work and his own feelings of futility, fellow inmate Zero runs away into the arid, desolate surroundings and Stanley, acting on impulse, embarks on a risky mission to save him. He unwittingly lays Madame Zeroni's curse to rest, finds buried treasure, survives yellow-spotted lizards, and gains wisdom and inner strength from the quirky turns of fate. In the almost mystical progress of their ascent of the rock edifice known as "Big Thumb," they discover their own invaluable worth and unwavering friendship. Each of the boys is painted as a distinct individual through Sachar's deftly chosen words. The author's ability to knit Stanley and Zero's compelling story in and out of a history of intriguing ancestors is captivating. Stanley's wit, integrity, faith, and wistful innocence will charm readers. A multitude of colorful characters coupled with the skillful braiding of ethnic folklore, American legend, and contemporary issues is a brilliant achievement. There is no question, kids will love Holes.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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