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As a lover of children's literature, mother and bookseller of 13 years, I want to put good books into kid's hands. I share my philosophy on what makes a book good as well as book reviews and lists of great books for every reading taste and ability with a focus on new readers. I also highlight some wonderful books that are not always on the shelf at bookstores, but might be at your library and can definitely be ordered. All books mentioned are available in paperback unless noted.
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1. The Wild Piano: A Philemon Adventure by Fred, 39 pp, RL

Last year, TOON Graphics brought us Cast Away on the Letter A, the first  Philemon Adventure by Fred, published in 1972 in France. Philemon and his adventures are unlike almost anything that we have seen on these shores. Fred's illustrations are intricate and filled with action, humor and imagination. I am often reminded of the interstitial animated flights of fancy (and weirdness) that

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2. Orpheus in the Underworld by Yvan Pommaux, 56 pp

Yvan Pommaux, beloved, multiple award-winning author and illustrator in France, has a detailed research and illustration style that we were treated too on this side of the Atlantic when TOON Graphics published  Theseus and the Minotaur last year. Pommaux's books are a very welcome addition to the shelves of graphic novels and Greek mythology. George O'Connor's graphic novel series The

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3. Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure by Nadja Spiegelman & Sergio García Sánchez, RL: 2

Something that I adore and deeply appreciate about TOON Books is the attention to detail that goes into each book. Of course the writing and illustrations are exemplary. The packaging is superb, from the trim size to the recognizable TOON wallpaper pattern that appears on the spine to the way that the books look so wonderful lined up on the shelf. TOON Books are so visually appealing and

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4. Benjamin Bear in Brain Storms! by Philippe Coudray

Hopefully by the publication of Benjamin Bear in Brain Storms!, you know Philippe Coudray's creatively thinking bear and his forest full of friends. Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, came out in 2011 and is now in paperback and Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas! in 2013. If you have never had the pleasure of meeting Benjamin Bear on the page, quotes from these reviews create a perfect picture.

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5. We Dig Worms! by Kevin McCloskey, RL 1.5

There are SO MANY super cool things about this new TOON Book We Dig Worms! by Kevin McCloskey I don't know where to start. How about the beginning? We Dig Worms! came about when McCloskey, who teaches illustration at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, was asked for a "fun worm book" by his wife, a librarian. What McCloskey created is a fantastic non-fiction book that, while filled with great

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6. TOON Books! TOON Books! TOON Books!

It has been a struggle to keep up with book reviews and related blog duties during this, my first full year as an elementary school librarian. Every day, I would come home from work, staying much later (and off the clock) than I intended and look, both longingly and sadly, at the stacks of amazing books on my desk waiting to be read and reviewed. One especially sad moment was realizing that I

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7. The Trap by Steve Arnston, 245 pp, RL 4

I am so excited to read and review The Trap, Steve Arnston's third book! I loved his debut, the creepily marvelous post-apocalyptic tale, The Wikkeling, with amazing illustrations by the superb Daniela J. Terrazzini. His second book, The Wrap-Up List, is a YA novel in which a sixteen-year-old chooses the things she wants to do in the week before her scheduled "departure" from a world

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8. There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klosterman, illustrated by Ben Mantle

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight is the debut picture book byPenny Parker Klostermann with fantastic illustrations by Ben Mantle. It may seem that there is no room to improve upon or add to (especially with Lucille Colandro's many variations on the cumulative rhyme) but Klostermann and Mantle had added a fantastic new twist to this old tale with There Was an Old Dragon Who

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9. Seen and Not Heard by Katie May Green

Seen and Not Heard is the debut picture book from Katie May Green. On the jacket flap, Green writes that she was inspired to create this book after looking at a 16th century portrait of three children and wondering what it might "feel like to be trapped in a painting for four hundred years?" The answer is a playfully rhyming, marvelously magical, midnight romp with the occasional dash

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10. The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson, 258 pp, RL 4

The Abominables is a posthumous publication from Eva Ibbotson with illustrations by the wonderful Fiona Robinson. Ibbotson is best known for the magical creature filled books she herself called "romps." While her works always have a rich vein of loving kindness running throughout, Ibbotson had a gift for creating kooky characters with bad ideas and and bad intentions as well as those with

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11. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, 240 pp, RL 4

Roller Girl is the absolutely magnificent debut graphic novel by picture book author and illustrator Victoria Jamieson. Jamieson has an inviting, crisp illustration style and a gift for storytelling that rivals the master, Raina Telgemeier. With Roller Girl, Jamieson introduces readers to Astrid, a 12 year-old who discovers her passion the same summer she discovers the complexities and

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12. Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy by Stevenson, Ellis, Watters and Allen, 128 pp, RL: Middle Grade

Lumberjanes! Lumberjanes is a monthly print comic and it has to be one of the most awesome things I have read in a long time, mostly because of how it subverts the dominant paradigm. The Lumberjanes are made up of five diverse girls who are "hardcore lady-types" attending Miss Quinzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's camp where they are earning their various badges and battling

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13. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, 265pp, RL: TEEN

Noelle Stevenson created the cover art (and some bonus art for a special edition) for one of my favorite YA books, Fangirl by the brilliant Rainbow Rowell. I didn't realize she had three webcomics to her name, a powerful internet presence, and a huge, vociferous fan base. Nimona originally ran as a webcomic over two years starting in 2012 when Stevenson was still a student at Maryland

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14. Congratulations to the 2015 winners of the Eisner Awards!

Last night the Eisner Awards were announced. Congratulations to all winners and to those creators of these superb kid's and YA books and links to my reviews: BEST PUBLICATION FOR KIDS:  EL DEAFO by Cece Bell BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM - NEW:  THIS ONE SUMMER by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki BEST WRITER: GENE LUEN YANG: AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER AND  THE SHADOW

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15. GOOD FANTASY, HARMLESS BAD GUYS: Old Label Gets a New Pinterest Board!

Next week I am giving a book talk for a Parent's Group and it got me thinking - again - about books for sensitive readers. During my decades as a bookseller and the years since I started making personalized booklists, I realized that children reading well above their grade levels are often sensitive to the darker aspects of the fantasy genre which, in the years since the publication of Harry

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16. Happy Birthday, Cupcake! by Terry Border

Ever since I read Bread and Jam for Frances (you can read my review/tribute of this book here) as a small child, I have been drawn to picture books with food themes - or characters. In light of this, I have no idea how I missed  Terry Border's first book last year, Peanut Butter and Cupcake. Happily, I got the chance to read Happy Birthday, Cupcake, which combines one of my favorite

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17. Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, 304 pp, RL 4

Art by Diana Sudyka Circus Mirandus is the debut novel by Cassie Beasley and it comes with a lot of advance excitement, a movie deal and praise, all of which are deserved. When I first read the blurb for Circus Mirandus, I was reminded of a book that made an impression on me when I was in junior high, Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. And, while both books are set at a

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18. A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino

If, like me, you and your family are enjoying a stay-cation yet again this summer, you might enjoy a little armchair traveling, which is what A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino is perfect for. Of course,  A Walk in Paris is also a superb book to read to any little listeners who just might be visiting the City of Lights themselves. If your travels take you elsewhere, Rubbino is also

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19. Anna and the French Kiss written by Stephanie Perkins, 384 pp, RL: TEEN

First reviewed 3/21/11, Anna and the French Kiss is the perfect YA romance, in my opinion, notable for the fact that the love interests have the opportunity (and gift) to become friends first. Thoughtful, charming and exciting, the fact that this story takes place is Paris is the ganache in the macaron... Back in December of last year when I reviewed Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by

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20. Minette's Feast, written by Susanna Reich and illustrated by Amy June Bates

Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat, written by Susanna Reich and illustrated by Amy June Bates is scrumptious! Susanna Reich clearly knows and loves her subject matter (both Julia Child and cats) and her author's note reveals a wonderful personal connection while the afterword, notes, glossary and pronunciation guide offer substance for readers who want to know more

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21. The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont

If I didn't know that The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont, wonderfully written by Victoria Griffith with gorgeous pictures by Eva Montanari, was a work of non-fiction, I would have thought I was reading a fascinating story about two very creative, inventive friends set in turn of the century Paris. That would be a great book. Even better than that? Finding out that these

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22. Secret Letters From 0 to10 by Susie Morgenstern, translated by Gill Rosner, 137pp RL 4

First reviewed on 11/16/08, Secret Letters from 0 + 10 left a great impression on me. A wonderful, quiet story, Morgenstern's writing is superlative. Your children will remember this book long into adulthood. Secret Letters from 0 to 10 by Susie Morgenstern is a gem of a book. It turned up on the shelves of the bookstore one day and I was drawn to the cover, its length and the fact that is

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23. When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit written and illustrated by Judith Kerr, 192 pp, RL 4

  Because my mother taught fourth and fifth grade for almost two decades I have known about Judith Kerr's book When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit for almost as long as I have known about her Mog the Cat books. For some reason, though, I never put two and two together and it wasn't until I sat down to write about one of my favorite childhood books, Mog the Forgetful Cat, that I discovered that

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24. The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson, pictures by Garth Williams 97pp RL4

Written in 1958 and winner of the Newbery Honor, The Family Under the Bridge is the story of how an old hobo named Armand, who wants nothing of homes, responsibility and regular work, ends up with all of these as well as a family of children. Set in Paris, France in a time when hobos were more like wandering gypsies than the people living on the streets these days, the story follows Armand

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25. The Cabinet of Earths, written by Anne Nesbet, 258 pp, RL 4

The Cabinet of Earths, debut novel from Anne Nesbet stands out above recent fantasy novels I have read for the creation of main character, twelve year old Maya. For me, Maya can take a place at the table with strong girl characters in fantasy novels alongside Hazel, hero of Anne Ursu's beautiful Breadcrumbs. At the head of this table is Lyra Belacqua, the fearless, complex, heartbreaking

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