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The Horn Book editor's rants and raves. Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996
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I want to thank the Horn Book, Simmons College, and Boston Globe staff who worked so hard to make this year’s Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards and Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium: “Transformations” a big success. You can see a photo album of the events on our website, and look forward to the January/February 2016 issue of the Horn Book Magazine for coverage of the weekend (including, for the many who have asked, Susan Cooper’s inspiring keynote speech). Next year marks the fiftieth anniversary of BGHB and we are planning for a big celebration!
Editor in Chief
The post From the Editor — October 2015 appeared first on The Horn Book.
Five questions for Duncan Tonatiuh
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh, Abrams, 6–9 years.
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh, Abrams, 6–9 years.
Tricks and treats
I Used to Be Afraid by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Roaring Brook/Porter, 3–6 years.
The Fun Book of Scary Stuff written by Emily Jenkins, illus. by Hyewon Yum, Farrar/Foster, 5–8 years.
Mummy Cat written by Marcus Ewert , illus. by Lisa Brown, Clarion, 5–8 years.
Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers, TOON, 6–9 years.
Sadie’s Story [Backyard Witch] written by Christine Heppermann and Ron Koertge, illus. by Deborah Marcero, Greenwillow, 7–10 years.
Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater, illus. by Maggie Stiefvater, Scholastic, 7–10 years.
Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Emily Jenkins, and Lauren Myracle, Scholastic, 7–10 years.
Switch by Ingrid Law, Dial, 9–12 years.
Really scary middle grade
The Nest written by Kenneth Oppel, illus. by Jon Klassen, Simon, 10–12 years.
Took by Mary Downing Hahn, Clarion, 10–12 years.
Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith, Houghton, 10–12 years.
The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne, Simon, 10–12 years.
Pick your poison
Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke, Dial, 14 years and up.
Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton, Scholastic, 13–16 years.
13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt, Candlewick, 13–16 years.
This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee, HarperCollins/Tegen, 11–14 years.
These titles were featured in the October 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
The post Books mentioned in the October 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book appeared first on The Horn Book.
Horrifying Hymenoptera, frightening faeries, malicious magick, and creepy corpses come out to play in these chilling middle-grade novels.
Steve’s baby brother comes back from the hospital sick (“there was something wrong with his heart and his eyes and his brain”) and needing lots of care, so his parents don’t pay much attention when Steve develops a fear of the wasps in the backyard. The boy finds comfort in a recurring dream in which a compassionate voice offers to make everything better: all Steve must do is say yes, and his dream confidante will turn her promise of a healthy baby into reality. In his (terrifying!) book The Nest, Kenneth Oppel’s language is straightforward, but the emotional resonance is deep. Jon Klassen‘s full-page black-and-white drawings — simple, but with maximum impact, in shades of light, dark, and darker — astutely capture the magnitude of a child’s imagination when he can rely only upon himself. (Simon, 10–12 years)
In Mary Downing Hahn‘s Took, Daniel’s family abruptly leaves Connecticut for a simpler lifestyle in West Virginia after Daniel’s father loses his job. Daniel and his little sister, Erica, find their new dilapidated home and the woods that surround it frightening, and the kids at school tease them with scary tales of a strange old woman, a man-eating razorback hog, and a little girl who disappeared from their house fifty years before. Daniel does not believe these stories, but Erica becomes progressively stranger, withdrawing from her family and obsessing over her look-alike doll, Little Erica. Told alternatingly through Daniel’s first-person narration and a third-person omniscient narrator, the story spookily — and effectively — weaves in the oral tradition of folklore, legends, and ghost stories. (Clarion, 10–12 years)
Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith is a creepy Southern Gothic ghost story focused on the insular 1930s black community of Sardis, Alabama. Folks there believe in equal measure in their God and in folk magick (or “hoodoo”). Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher doesn’t have a speck of magick in him—or so he thinks. When a Stranger, a nasty, foul-smelling incarnation of evil, comes to town Hoodoo discovers the magick deep within himself and the strength and heart to summon it. Filled with folk and religious symbols, the story is steeped in time and place. Hoodoo’s earnest first-person narrative reveals a believable innocent who can “cause deeds great and powerful.” (Clarion, 10–12 years)
While out grave-robbing one night, Thomas Marsden — star of The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden — digs up a corpse that looks exactly like him. In his hand the dead boy is holding tickets to a performance by the famous spiritualist Mordecai, along with a note bearing the instruction Speak to no one. As it turns out, Thomas is of faerie descent, and his people have been enslaved by Mordecai. As the last surviving member of the royal line, it’s up to Thomas to break Mordecai’s enchantment. Author Emma Trevayne plays her cards close to the vest, slowly doling out clues; the central drama — Thomas’s decision whether to help the faeries despite having been rejected by them at birth — makes it worth the wait. By the end, the boy’s humanity holds the key to the faeries’ salvation, leading to a satisfying resolution. (Simon, 10–12 years)
From the October 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
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A chilling short story collection, two suspenseful novels, and one book that’s a bit of both: there’s something here for every young adult horror fan.
Each of the fourteen short tales of horror in Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, selected by April Genevieve Tucholke, is inspired by at least one other story, film, or song: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Hitchcock movies, Carrie, Zombieland, etc. With such eclectic antecedents, a wide range of approaches to the theme, and settings that span time and cultures, the resulting collection is satisfyingly diverse and compelling. After encountering the horrors here, variously supernatural and disturbingly human, readers may want to leave the lights on. (Dial, 14 years and up)
In Mackenzi Lee’s This Monstrous Thing, set in an early-nineteenth-century alternate-universe Geneva, Alasdair Finch lives with a terrible secret: he’s responsible for the accident that killed his brother Oliver. He’s also responsible for having furtively dug up Oliver’s body and re-animated him entirely with clockwork parts. Now, two years later, an arrest warrant forces Alasdair to flee the city, leaving his monstrous brother behind. This retelling of Frankenstein, set in the year the novel came out—and with Mary Godwin (Shelley’s maiden name) as a character — has all the gothic atmosphere of Shelley’s classic horror story. (HarperCollins/Tegen, 13–16 years)
Sixteen-year-old Luke Manchett, protagonist of Leo Hunt’s 13 Days of Midnight, thinks he’s got it made when his estranged father, host of a popular ghost-hunting TV show, dies suddenly. Luke will inherit millions if he just signs the creepy goatskin contract proffered by lawyer Mr. Berkley. Luke does, and soon regrets his decision when it turns out he has also inherited the secret to his father’s success: necromantic power and a mutinous spirit Host. The frequent dark humor of Luke’s narration is balanced by moments of true suspense and satisfyingly complex relationships. (Candlewick, 13–16 years)
Twelve strangers meet by candlelight to tell ghost stories in Dave Shelton’s Thirteen Chairs. A thirteenth — Jack, a boy who gate-crashes the gathering — listens and waits for his turn. As the tellers finish, they blow out their candles until only Jack is left…but by then he is certain that the stories are more real than anyone has let on. The ghost stories’ varied subjects and the different voices employed in their narration keep the pace moving along nicely. The common theme of the tales — that the dead seek retribution on their killers, or sometimes on bystanders who are just a little too curious — provides low-key chills. (Scholastic/Fickling, 11–14 years)
From the October 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
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Not everyone wants the pants scared off of them on Halloween. Some people like their witches sweet and their HobGrackles cuddly.
Sadie’s Story, the first in the Backyard Witch series by Christine Heppermann and Ron Koertge, introduces readers to nine-year-old Sadie, her cat — and the small witch who takes up residence in the plastic playhouse by Sadie’s family’s garage. Morgan, a.k.a. Ms. M., may be somewhat unreliable with spells and hexes, but she’s great company and quick with a gag. Best of all, she’s a birdwatcher witch, or ornithomancer, and Sadie herself soon gets bitten by the birding bug. Sprightly prose will pull in chapter book readers, and spot illustrations by Deborah Marcero keep the page design lively. (Greenwillow, 7–10 years)
Though her father is headmaster of the prestigious Sage Academy of Magic and Performance, Nory’s own magic is wonky. After a disastrous showing at her Sage Academy entrance exam, Dad sends Nory to live with eccentric Aunt Margo to attend a school that offers a special program for “the worst of the wonky.” Upside-Down Magic is a collaboration among three authors — Sarah Mlynowski, Emily Jenkins, and Lauren Myracle — and there’s no telling who did what, in a good way: the writing is seamless. The book is light but not inconsequential, and its multicultural and differently-abled cast will be welcomed by a broad audience. (Scholastic, 7–10 years)
After a unicorn mishap at school, the nine-year-old (human) protagonist of Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures is sent to her aunt’s for the summer, where she helps run the family’s veterinary clinic. Then the town is infested with Fuzzles (combustible dustlike creatures that live in underwear drawers), and Pip and her pals — plus a scaredy-cat unicorn — investigate. Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater’s fast-paced prose is lively, witty, and gripping. Stiefvater’s black-and-white textured illustrations show the griffins, HobGrackles, and other magical creatures that inhabit Pip’s world. An accessible fantasy for independent readers not yet ready for Rowling. (Scholastic, 7–10 years)
Gypsy Beaumont, star of Ingrid Law’s Switch (and little sister of Savvy protagonist Mibs), has just turned thirteen and is starting to get the hang of her particular magical ability, or savvy — seeing people’s pasts and futures — when things go “wackadoo.” Soon after envisioning her own death (or so she thinks), Gypsy loses her original savvy and gains a surprising new one: stopping time. This comes in handy as her mother, big-brother Samson, and little-brother Tucker reluctantly travel to Colorado, through a blizzard, to retrieve prickly Grandma Pat, suffering from “Old-timer’s disease,” as Tucker calls it. In typical Law fashion, whimsy abounds, with vibrant supporting characters and helter-skelter pacing. (Dial, 9–12 years)
From the October 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
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Ah, one of my favorite subjects: picture books for the very young. This year some of my most-loved books fall into that category, including several we’re talking about on Calling Caldecott this fall. We all know that these books face an uphill battle when it comes to Caldecott recognition. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it! So brace yourself for an impassioned plea for Byron Barton’s My Bike, the latest entry in his transportation series (which includes My Car and My Bus).
This book has everything a book for preschoolers needs: a kid-friendly topic; a clear trajectory from beginning to end; propulsive page turns; repetition in pattern and/or language; a close congruency between pictures and text; art that captures attention and that limits its details to those of interest to kids.
My Bike could not begin more directly or succinctly, or lead more efficiently into the action. First Barton introduces Tom with the simplest of three-word texts — “I am Tom” — on the left hand page and a forefronted portrait of Tom himself on the right side: blue eyes, striped green and yellow shirt, purple pants. On the next spread, the four-word text says, “This is my bicycle,” and the picture shows Tom pointing at the bike (brilliant!). The next page turn shows the whole bike with all its parts labeled (a genius preamble, for vehicle-loving kids). And then we’re off — “I ride my bicycle to work” — into this clever, beautifully foreshadowed, predictable-then-not-so, kid-pleasing story.
Here are just a few of the things I appreciate about this book:
- The bright neon rainbow palette is entirely appropriate for the subject, and varying the colors of the pages and the typeface (from yellow to purple to blue to red, etc) adds an enormous amount of energy and vibrancy.
- Young readers are constantly propelled forward through the book, with Tom riding from left to right on every spread. Also, his presence on every spread — riding his bike, often waving to the people and animals he passes — anchors the events.
- The rounded typeface echoes and reinforces the wheels on Tom’s bike and other vehicles, the round heads of the human characters, the balloons, the balls, and on and on.
- The population of this book is diverse to the max. There is a spectacular mix of skin hues and genders and even species (in Barton’s transportation books, even cats and dogs ride the bus and go to the circus). And just FYI, Barton has been including brown faces and women in nontraditional gender roles in his books for 30 years. He’s no newcomer to a commitment to diversity.
- Barton displays respect for his child audience through the foreshadowing — the unicycle handle just visible sticking out of his backpack; the slow unfolding of his eventual destination, with first the sight of the circus truck, then a glimpse of circus tents in the far distance, etc.
- The humor (in the twist at the end) is matched perfectly to the audience. And I think kids will find the last view of Tom riding his bicycle while still WEARING HIS CLOWN’S NOSE hilarious.
Will others love My Bike as much as I do? Will the members of the Caldecott committee (and other committees as well — I’m looking at you, Geisel people) jump on the bandwagon…er, bandbike?
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Spiders, trolls, mummified cats, and monsters with three heads. Oh, my! Perfect for Halloween story hours, here are four new picture books that will give young audiences something to be (not too) frightened about. For more new recommended Halloween picture books, see 2015 Horn Boo!
I Used to Be Afraid by Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a great courage booster for kids with pre-Halloween jitters. “I used to be afraid of SPIDERS,” a young girl begins. Turn the page — which features a die-cut arachnid — and the spider shows up against a large, beautiful web. “But not anymore,” the girl declares. She also used to be afraid of the dark, being alone, etc., and with each page-turn we see how she overcame that fear. The book’s thick, glossy pages offer enticing colors and simple images with open spaces. Change, shadows, a brother in a monster mask — each die-cut works effectively to turn something-to-fear into something-not-so-scary. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 3–6 years)
In Emily Jenkins’s The Fun Book of Scary Stuff, a boy shares with his two dogs the many things that scare him (e.g., monsters, witches, trolls, the school crossing guard). While the pug seems sympathetic, the self-proclaimed “bravest dog ever” bull terrier is unimpressed by the child’s fears. When it comes to the dark, though, the bull terrier freaks out, and his terror pushes the boy to take charge. Hyewon Yum’s expressive pictures show scary things that aren’t that scary — and illustrate the reassuring fact that everyone gets the willies. (Farrar/Foster, 5–8 years)
“Deep within this maze of stone, / a creature wakes up, all alone.” This creature is the feline star of Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert, set in ancient Egypt among the sphinx and the pyramids. As he does every one hundred years, the mummy cat emerges from a small coffin to search for his mistress-in-life, “the girl-queen, Hat-shup-set.” He prowls the pyramid, looking wistfully at paintings on the wall that depict their happy life together. Lisa Brown’s cleverly composed illustrations enhance the eerie ancient atmosphere. Information on Egyptian burial customs and a key to hieroglyphic messages in the pictures are appended. (Clarion, 5–8 years)
In Written and Drawn by Henrietta (really written and drawn by cartoonist Liniers), young Henrietta uses her brand-new colored pencils to create a nail-bitingly thrilling story about a girl named Emily and the three-headed monster that emerges from her wardrobe one night. The adventure — in which Emily joins the scary-looking but actually friendly monster in the Narnia-like wardrobe and braves another, truly terrifying monster—is depicted in brightly colored, messy, dramatic scrawls. Neat panels, meanwhile, show Henrietta drawing the story — and cleverly commenting on its progress. A Spanish version, Escrito y dibujado por Enriqueta, is also available. (TOON, 6–9 years)
From the October 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.
The post Tricks and treats appeared first on The Horn Book.
This week on hbook.com…
All BGHB, all the time!
Starred reviews, November/December Horn Book Magazine
2015 Horn Boo!
From the Guide: YA Horror
Martha’s classic editorial “Rumpeta-ing Through Reading” (from the March/April 1997 Horn Book Magazine)
Reviews of the Week:
Out of the Box: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials movie review
Lolly’s Classroom: When picture books bring on tears
See overviews of previous weeks by clicking the tag week in review. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up-to-date on our articles!
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Robert Miller was known to everyone except his own family as Count Victor Lustig (or by any of forty-five other aliases). He was a con man, with a career full of ways to separate people from their money, including, believe it or not, selling the Eiffel Tower. He was “one of the most crooked con men ever to have lived.” Not your usual subject for a children’s picture book, but Geisel Award winner Greg Pizzoli pulls it off. Like any good picture book, Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower is written with a light touch, and the mixed media illustrations are gorgeously simple-seeming with plenty of visual play that will appeal to children and adults alike, and which complement and extend the text. Vic’s face, for example, is not a face at all, but a fingerprint, and one of his “marks” (victims) was Frenchman Andre Poisson (French for fish), his head replaced with that of a fish, with a speech bubble saying, “He took the bait.”
The beautiful design, the informative sidebars, and these amusing visual elements ought to play well with the Caldecott committee. These little touches are subtle but add up to a winning package. The muted color choices are a bit of a nod to the Elliot Ness era and allow the reader to feel as if he or she is in the middle of an old movie. A gray-green sensibility runs through the book, while the fingerprints and fish heads serve to keep the tone light. However, the committee may also consider one historical issue: Pizzoli says in his author’s note that he altered the actual timeline of Robert Miller’s story, placing Vic’s conning of Al Capone before the sale of the Eiffel Tower, when most accounts suggest he did that afterwards. Pizzoli felt he was giving precedence to character development over exact historical accuracy. Can he do that and have the book still be nonfiction? Will that matter to the Caldecott committee? As a former member of the Sibert committee, I can just picture the discussion through that Sibert lens. I think the Caldecott committee will see this as nonfiction: everything in the text is true — even if the sequence of events has been skewed — and it helps that Pizzoli points out what he did and why. It’s a bit of literary license in the service of good storytelling, which is what any book committee is looking to honor.
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Maze Runner sequel The Scorch Trials (Twentieth Century Fox, September 2015) reminded me of two very important Siân facts:
- I should never, ever drink anything before or during a movie.
- I am no hero.
If you’re looking to take a road trip in which you do not stop every 45 minutes for pee breaks, you probably don’t want to be traveling with me. Additionally, if you’re looking for someone to run toward the gun fight, carry you to safety as you slowly change into a zombie, or single-handedly storm a government-controlled facility of horror to save you, you definitely don’t want to be traveling with me.
A plane flew low over my apartment recently and my only panicked thought was, “THE END IS NIGH!”
No one can accuse me of excess courage.
Now that we’ve discussed my cowardice, let’s move on to how scared I was during the movie.
The Scorch Trials is thrilling. I have no idea how similar it is to the book (I’m guessing from the Wikipedia entry that the answer is “not at all”), but the movie was downright gripping. The Gladers, thinking they have been saved from the supposedly-good-but-actually-evil hold of WCKD, find themselves prisoners once again. Led by handsome, heroic, and utterly heedless Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), several boys and one girl, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), escape from the facility and go storming into The Scorch (which appears to be the once-lush, now-barren-desert San Francisco) with little aim beyond “escape.”
What followed was 132 minutes of me hiding behind my knees, desperately thinking, “nonononononono this suspense has to let up sometime, right? RIGHT?”
The band of teens race through wind-blown desert, vacant and neglected cities, and into the mountains hunted by the WCKD doctors Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) and Janson (Aiden Gillen); attacked by horrifying zombie-like people infected with…something (the flare?); and harassed by healthy people who are just plain mean (like Alan Tudyk’s character, Blondie, who really should have had a cooler name than that).
James Dashner’s post-apocalyptic world is brought to terrifying life with some incredibly expansive and remarkably detailed settings whose stark monoliths are paralleled in a number of shots of the teens, standing backlit, brave, and alone. The special effects help highlight the sheer terror present in this world — awful thunderstorms, disgusting zombies — without pushing realism (too far) or diverting from the plot.
Clarkson and Gillen’s stoic adults are perfect bad guys: frighteningly calm and emotionally removed but motivated by red-hot moral righteousness. The boys are exactly the type of teen heroes we want to root for: O’Brien’s Thomas is all determined morality; Ki Hong Lee’s Minho is smart, sassy, and totally badass; Thomas Brodie-Sangster’s Newt is just the right mix of skeptical observer and dedicated friend; and Dexter Darden’s Frypan brings gentle humor and kindness to the daring crew.The only character who doesn’t add anything to the ensemble is, unfortunately, Teresa, the only female in the group. Through no fault of her own, Scodelario’s character speaks little and does even less, seemingly a character whose sole purpose is bringing about the emotional growth of the male protagonist. I will also add that, ideologically, I am angry with the character of Brenda (Rosa Salazar), who seems to exist only to tempt the sainthood of Thomas and thus suffer karmic repercussions because can we PLEASE stop using female characters as tools for male character growth? But that would be a digression. And we all know the internet is not the place for digression or outrage.
Overall, The Scorch Trials made me, as a viewer and consumer, very happy. It was exciting, visually stimulating, and fast-paced; the actors were engaging and likable (or perfectly detestable, which is also great fun); and the cliffhanger was intense but not brutal.
Bring on the third one, folks! I’ll bring my blankie for more effective hiding.
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At some point, it probably has happened to any teacher, parent, or caregiver of young children. You are reading a story to a child or group of children and something about the story hits you and makes you misty eyed. Other times you might read a story that causes a child to cry. Books that hit an emotional nerve in adults might not always do the same for young children and vice versa. Often, there are picture books with subtexts that make adults emotional, but young children may not pick up on them. In these cases, I would argue that asking the child/children open ended questions about the book can help us understand their perspective better than trying to explicitly tell the children your interpretation of the subtext.
An example of a book that has made me shed a tear is The Heart and The Bottle by Oliver Jeffers. This book deals with loss and grief in symbolic ways that young children may not fully comprehend. However, the lack of a clear direct theme or lesson can spark deeper thinking in individual children and interesting discussions when read in a larger group. The Heart and The Bottle is often surreal in its style which makes it easier to share in a group setting compared to books that deal with loss and other emotional topics in a more direct way.
Unlike Jeffers’ story, Knock Knock authored by Daniel Beaty and illustrated by Bryan Collier is grounded in realism. Knock Knock is based on a moving poem about Beaty’s absent father which he has often performed live. (Watch it here). It is hard for me to read this book without getting tears in my eyes. Parts of the story hit close to home for me and very close to home for children I have taught. I have recommended it to families of children dealing with absent fathers and read it to individual children — but not in a group setting. In an ideal world, group story times would be a place for healing where no topics would be taboo. However, it is important to respect individual families in the class and over the years many families dealing with issues like absent parents, divorce, or family problems in general have told me that they prefer we don’t read books that encourage their child to talk about these issues in a group setting. As a teacher, I believe that these types of discussions can be healthy, but I fully understand parents who don’t want their personal business potentially discussed in a classroom where other parents might find out and engage in gossip and shaming.
Finally, I would like to note that it is impossible to predict how children will react to stories. For instance, I never thought A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon would stir strong emotions in a child, but I once had a child burst into tears while reading it because their mom had food poisoning and they associated the book’s story about not eating Lima beans with their mom’s illness. On the other side, I know of many teachers and parents who tear up while reading The Giving Tree but the children hearing it have not had any emotional reaction to the book.
So now I will leave the readers of Lolly’s Classroom with some questions:
- What children’s books cause strong emotions in you? What books have caused your students to feel strong emotions?
- Do you read books relating to potentially emotional topics in the classroom? At what age do you think hard topics like death, loss, and divorce should be introduced in books you read? Should parents be consulted before reading emotional books? Should parents be given any sort of veto power or opt out mechanism for their child regarding certain books?
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Roger and Richard; photo by Elissa Gershowitz.
The Horn Book gang–Sharks AND Jets–has been busy posting photos and Tweets and quotes and stuff from our very successful Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards/Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium events of last weekend. We will be publishing coverage in the January/February issue of the Magazine, and look for a fabulous cover by Marla Frazee, who gives us a little more of the Farmer and the Clown story. (And, yes, for those who asked, Susan Cooper’s inspiring speech will be in the issue.) Thank you to all who made the events a success–HB and Boston Globe and Simmons staff, our judges, our speakers, and our attendees, who kept the conversation lively. Cathie, Katrina, and I have already started planning next year’s program (if saying “let’s pick a date” counts as planning). The BGHB 2016 judges–Betsy Bird, Roxanne Hsu Feldman, and chair Joanna Rudge Long are already at it. 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the awards so we hope to make the weekend extra-special.
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The Grasshopper & the Ants adds another title to Jerry Pinkney’s growing set of books based on fables by Aesop and Andersen. Unlike his Caldecott-winning The Lion & the Mouse (2009), this title has text, except for an extended wordless sequence in the middle.
But the Caldecott committee will not be comparing this to Pinkney’s other fable books, because they’re only allowed to discuss titles published in 2015.
Here, Pinkney’s adaptation softens the harsher elements of Aesop’s version, allowing the ants to show compassion and portraying the grasshopper as a guy who is devoted to his art rather than just a lazy freeloader. The action starts in the spring and moves quickly through the seasons as the grasshopper implores the ants to stop working and join him fishing, dancing, singing, etc. The ants don’t stop their rushing around to gather food before the snow covers it all up. Pinkney depicts his characters realistically (every leg segment, abdomen, and antenna in place), but dresses the ants in acorn caps and the grasshopper in a natty straw hat and vest.
When winter comes, the grasshopper finds himself surrounded by lots and lots of snow. What follows is a five-spread wordless sequence that juxtaposes the busy ants and the lonely grasshopper. In one especially effective spread, we see the ants in their cozy underground tunnels full of stored food, while a flap folds up to show the grasshopper, hungry and shivering in the snow above them.
Pinkney’s art is as intricate as ever, and it’s clear how much research and thought he put into this book. The endpapers, the illustrative lettering on the title page, and the dual jacket and cover are all exquisite. But to my eye, the pages illustrating the actual story are a little too detailed. They are so full of shapes that it can be hard to figure out what’s happening. This style works better for the ants, with their many dark legs making an interesting repeated design. This style is less successful with the grasshopper. It takes me a second to figure out what position he is sitting in and what he’s doing with all those legs. I also think the wings are too prominent. When I was a kid I spent many hours in the summer hunting and catching grasshoppers and crickets. Their wings stay folded against the abdomen until they jump, so that seems like one aspect Pinkney could have changed to make the character look simpler. I don’t think I’m alone in perceiving this art as overly busy. The first time through, readers will probably struggle to parse the images, but the payoff will come on subsequent readings when they will see more and more as they look again and again.
I don’t want to sound like a downer here. I am a fan of Pinkney’s work and love the texts he chooses to illustrate. Whenever a new book of his comes into the office, I want to drop everything and look at it. But I do think that his style is working against him in this instance.
But that’s just my opinion. I am ready to be convinced otherwise — and I have no doubt the Real Committee will be taking a good, hard look at this book.
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From FUNNY BONES, by Duncan Tonatiuh
The following books will receive starred reviews in the November/December issue of The Horn Book Magazine:
Tiptoe Tapirs; written and illustrated by Hanmin Kim; trans. from the Korean by Sera Lee (Holiday)
I Used to Be Afraid; written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Porter/Roaring Brook)
Flop to the Top!; written and illustrated by Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing (TOON)
Hereville:How Mirka Caught a Fish; written and illustrated by Barry Deutsch (Amulet/Abrams)
Calvin; by Martine Leavitt (Ferguson/Farrar)
Written and Drawn by Henrietta; written and drawn by Liniers (TOON)
All American Boys; by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (Dlouhy/Atheneum)
The Emperor of Any Place; by Tim Wynne-Jones (Candlewick)
My Seneca Village; by Marilyn Nelson (Namelos)
Breakthrough!: How Three People Saved “Blue Babies” and Changed Medicine Forever; by Jim Murphy (Clarion)
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras; written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams)
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By: Roger Sutton
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Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event
by Rebecca Bond; illus. by the author
Primary Ferguson/Farrar 40 pp.
7/15 978-0-374-38077-9 $17.99
Bond relates a story from 1914 Ontario, during her grandfather’s childhood, when he lived at a lakeside hotel run by his mother. Art and text describe young Antonio wandering the hotel, intrigued both by the “travelers” and “outdoor sportsmen” and by the loud, lively “men who worked in the forest” — trappers, lumberjacks, silver miners. Antonio also roams the woods, catching only disappointing half-glimpses of wild animals. One day, a forest fire breaks out,
driving everyone toward the only safe place — the lake. As people stand in the water watching the fire rage, animals, too, make their way out of the woods and into the lake. It’s a dream come
true for Antonio, who gets a close-up look at every forest creature imaginable as they slowly parade by. Like a woodland version of Hicks’s Peaceable Kingdom, “wolves stood beside deer, foxes beside rabbits. And people and moose stood close enough to touch.” Bond vividly conveys the nearness and wonder by describing what Antonio experiences: he “smelled the steam
rising off the animals’ wet fur, saw their chests lifting and falling in steady rhythm, and felt their hot animal breath.” As the fire subsides, all creatures leave the water — and “miraculously,” the hotel has escaped untouched. The endpapers feature realistic drawings of forest animals against a sepia background, the vintage-children’s-book vibe setting the tone for this historical tale. Throughout, Bond’s detailed sketches tinted with muted browns, greens, blues, and oranges create a dreamlike mood, a fine match for the mesmerizing story. An appended note includes a photo of the author’s grandfather as a child.
From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
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As many of you know, the Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium: “Transformations” was this past Saturday. It was interesting, engaging, educational, and fun (it was also exhausting for those of us working it, and even more so for the amazing Katrina Hedeen, who planned the whole durn thing).
But what you don’t know is the most important thing that happened over our BGHB/HBAS weekend.
Was it the Shuster-men speaking eloquently about Challenger Deep and mental illness?
Was it the informative and funny editor panel?
How about getting to see Marla Frazee’s pre-book sketches (including the illustrated thank-you note that became A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever!)?
What was it?
Susan Cooper took a picture of my Dark Is Rising tattoo.
For more on the 2015 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards and the following day’s HBAS Colloquium: “Transformations,” click on the tag BGHB15
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I confess to feeling nonplussed when the publicist wrote to see if “Horn [ed note: AARGH] will review The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Sleep,” the self-published bestseller that Random House picked up for a rumored seven-figure advance. I mean, yes, the Horn BOOK will review it in the Spring 2016 Horn Book Guide because that publication reviews non selectively, but, really, why are you asking me this? Is somebody making you do it? I felt one step away from a drunk Reese Witherspoon bellowing at a cop who didn’t know who she was.
But, okay, Rando, here’s what Horn thinks. The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Sleep is a book designed to help parents get their kids to go to sleep. It has sold so many copies (already, I mean, but clearly RH thinks there are even more suckers out there) because it probably works as advertised. The text is long–really, really long– and droning and uneventful, and it will bore the brats right into dreamland. Authorial directives are everywhere, telling parents where to whisper, where to provide emphasis, where to yawn: “The name of the rabbit, Roger [ed note: fuck you], can be read as ‘Raaah-gerr’ with two yawns.” The combination of boredom plus suggestion will induce a hypnotic state in both parent and child and
cause Chandler to walk around the apartment with a towel round his head like a girl make them very, very sleeeepy. (Despite what the Amazon reviews will tell you, this is not “magic.” Now, I would have thought that the kind of parent susceptible to The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Sleep might have been horrified at the prospect of hypnotizing their offspring because that is how demons get in, but anything for a good night’s sleep, I suppose.) Mission accomplished.
If the seven-figure-advance rumor is true, I’d love for someone to do the math for me. Can this book (or books; the author and publisher are threatening a series) earn that much money back? Won’t parents figure out that Goodnight Moon–cheaper, prettier, and a billion times classier–does the same thing?
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By: Roger Sutton
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Sunny Side Up
by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm;
illus. by Matthew Holm; color by Lark Pien
Intermediate Graphix/Scholastic 218 pp.
9/15 978-0-545-74165-1 $23.99
Paper ed. 978-0-545-74166-8 $12.99 g
e-book ed. 978-0-545-74167-5 $12.99
Set largely during the summer of 1976, this semiautobiographical graphic novel from the brother-and-sister team behind the Babymouse series includes an amiable grandfather, U.S. bicentennial festivities, and a trip to Disney World — but it is much more than a lighthearted nostalgia piece. Ten-year-old Sunshine “Sunny” Lewin had been looking forward to spending August at the shore as usual, but her parents have suddenly sent her to Florida to stay with “Gramps” instead. Her less-than-thrilling days at the retirement community, complete with early-bird specials and trips to the post office, improve after she befriends the groundskeeper’s son, comics-obsessed Buzz. The two spend their time doing odd jobs for spending money and mulling over age-old superhero dilemmas (“But they’re heroes. Why can’t they save the people they love?”). These discussions, and the series of flashbacks they often elicit, ultimately lead readers to the truth surrounding Sunny’s visit: back home in Pennsylvania, her teenage brother is struggling with substance abuse, and Sunny is convinced that she made the problem worse — a misconception Gramps lovingly corrects. Matthew Holm’s loose, less-is-more cartooning is easy to read and expressive, if occasionally unpolished. Straightforward dialogue, captions establishing time and setting, and extended wordless scenes swiftly propel the narrative and will be appreciated by Raina Telgemeier fans. An affirming author’s note delves further into the Holm siblings’ personal experience with familial substance abuse and encourages young readers sharing a similar struggle to reach out (as Sunny eventually does) to the responsible adults in their lives.
From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
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This year’s “Horn BOO!,” our annual roundup of Halloween-y books, will satisfy the spook-loving picture-book set. Teen readers — those with a more mature taste in fright, greater immunity to fear, and, in some cases, seriously strong stomachs — should check out these horror novels from the spring and fall 2015 issues of The Horn Book Guide.
Associate Editor, The Horn Book Guide
Alameda, Courtney Shutter
373 pp. Feiwel 2015 ISBN 978-1-250-04467-9
YA Micheline Helsing (of Van Helsing lineage), a tetrachromat, can see the undead, and with her Helsing Corps crew and camera, she exorcises them. But then a powerful ghost defeats the group and leaves them all cursed; they have seven days to break the curse or be damned. Alameda’s alternate–San Francisco setting is vivid, the horror gruesome, and the story action-packed.
Brooks, Kevin The Bunker Diary
260 pp. Carolrhoda Lab 2015 ISBN 978-1-4677-5420-0
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4677-7646-2
YA In a fictitious diary, sixteen-year-old English runaway Linus tells of his kidnapping and imprisonment in an underground bunker, where he, along with five other captives that gradually fill the other cells, endures evil punishments. Gripping, terrifying, and full of abominable actions, this provocative contemporary-set Carnegie Medal–winner is not for the faint-hearted, but thrill-seekers and realistic-horror enthusiasts will find the sharply written narrative compelling.
Delaney, Joseph A New Darkness
344 pp. Greenwillow 2014 ISBN 978-0-06-233453-4
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-233455-8
YA The first in an unillustrated follow-up trilogy to the Last Apprentice series shows Tom taking over the late Spook’s work. The narration alternates between Tom’s voice and his would-be apprentice Jenny’s; Tom resists the idea of a female Spook. Last Apprentice fans will find the same creepy imagery and a few surprises, and the backstory is clear enough for those new to the series.
Garcia, Kami Unmarked
387 pp. Little, Brown 2014 ISBN 978-0-316-21022-5
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-21023-2
YA Legion series. In Unbreakable, Kennedy, love interest Jared, and their ghost-and-demon-fighting team, the Legion, accidentally released the powerful demon Andras. Now they must locate the final Legion member and the Vessel that will contain and bind Andras again — ASAP, because Andras has possessed Jared. With a tighter focus and a tension-heightening nonlinear structure, this second volume is even stronger than its predecessor.
Higson, Charlie The Fallen
535 pp. Hyperion 2014 ISBN 978-1-4231-6566-8
YA Enemy series. Higson’s fifth zombie apocalypse series entry focuses on survivors quartered in London’s National History Museum. One group sets out to retrieve medical supplies; others struggle to trap a traitor working among them. Followers of this violent series about kids battling endless horrors will relish the moment-by-moment action and cameo appearances by characters featured in previous volumes (those still alive, that is).
Monahan, Hillary Mary: The Summoning
250 pp. Hyperion 2014 ISBN 978-1-4231-8519-2
YA At the insistence of ringleader Jess, a group of friends attempts to summon urban legend Bloody Mary — and succeeds. The violent spirit attaches herself to narrator Shauna, who desperately seeks to rid herself of the ghost, discovering Mary’s tragic history, another haunting victim, and Jess’s secret motives along the way. Readers of supernatural horror are in for a gory, fast-paced thrill ride.
Pillsworth, Anne M. Summoned
320 pp. Tor Teen 2014 ISBN 978-0-7653-3589-0
YA At an arcane bookstore in (fictional) Arkham, Massachusetts, Sean finds a clipping directing him to a reverend seeking an occult apprentice. But when Sean attempts the reverend’s test, he mistakenly summons a Lovecraftian monster that threatens Sean and his family. A deliberative pace keeps the action at a slow boil, but fans of Lovecraft and his grotesque chthonic horror will enjoy the dark atmosphere.
Stolarz, Laurie Faria Welcome to the Dark House
368 pp. Hyperion 2014 ISBN 978-1-4231-8172-9
YA After submitting their darkest personal nightmares to a writing contest, Ivy and six other teens win a chance to meet famed horror movie director Justin Blake. Ivy hopes that dredging up those haunting memories will help her process a significant trauma. But the contest quickly turns deadly. Truly terrifying plot twists unfold at a breakneck pace, shifting quickly from character to character. Impressively fearsome.
From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. These reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please click here.
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My daughter Emily has always been a reading omnivore: we have photos of her poring over books from the time she could first sit up. Everything was of interest: catalogs featuring photographs of children; books verging on toys, with flaps or holes or even wheels; concept books; story books. Gradually, certain authors and books became favorites, and through a curious alchemy of interactions — child and parent with the book, and child and parent with each other — they seemed only to get better and better over time.
We read books by Eve Rice, especially Sam Who Never Forgets and Benny Bakes a Cake. Rice’s world in these books is immensely reassuring, with small disasters (Did Sam the zookeeper really forget to feed Elephant? What will happen now that bad dog Ralph has eaten Benny’s birthday cake?) transformed into hugs, birthday parades, and other expressions of love. Rice’s books surprise when read out loud: her prose has a tendency to form itself into meter and rhyme, appropriate for these structured stories.
We read Anne Rockwell, one of the best at reflecting and celebrating a child’s own world. Her pictures are perfectly ordered, whether crammed full of detail (an entire town busy with seasonally appropriate activities, in First Comes Spring) or rivetingly simple (a close-up of a sled, in The First Snowfall). Rockwell is also spectacular on that other topic of perennial interest to toddlers, machines and vehicles. Big Wheels is a modern preschool classic.
And we read Shirley Hughes, a master at inhabiting the minds and emotions of small children. Particularly appropriate for the very young are her Alfie and Annie Rose books (Alfie’s Feet and Alfie Gets in First being our personal favorites), her small-format concept books Bathwater’s Hot, Noisy, and When We Went to the Park, and her “doing” books (Giving, Chatting, Bouncing, etc.). Hughes’s specific, urban British settings add to her books’ believability: her child characters are so rooted in their home places that the child reader feels at home as well.
But the two creators most consistently on Emily’s hit parade were Donald Crews and Byron Barton. Crews’s Freight Train is a spellbinder; it creates such a strong mood that the words — like the smoke of the train that’s “going, going, gone” — quite literally seem to hang in the air for a few minutes after you finish reading. Crews’s strong graphics are perhaps the most appealing aspect of his other books; in School Bus two-year-old Emily developed a ritual of pointing out all the vehicles of interest: school buses, city buses, taxis, and the particularly exciting garbage truck (and each time we found the cameo of the author-illustrator himself, on a street corner, portfolio tucked under his arm, Emily would croon, “Donald CROOOOZ!”).
Byron Barton is a guaranteed success with his direct, no-nonsense texts (“Hey, you guys! / Let’s get to work. / Knock down that building. / Bulldoze that tree”); his bold typefaces; his black-outlined, color-blocked pictures of machines, astronauts, construction workers, dinosaurs (hear any bells going off in your toddler-interest geiger counter?). There wasn’t a detail Emily wasn’t fascinated with, from counting how many construction workers were girls and how many boys in Machines at Work (quoted from above) to carefully tracing the Diplodocus’s “long, long neck” and “long, long tail” in Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs.
There were many other individual favorites, as well. In addition to high-interest subjects, these books shared three other characteristics. First, a pacing appropriate for the material and for the age group. Successful books take into account the young child’s attention span. The length of the text per se is not a guarantee of success. Some of our favorites had quite a lot of words; however, these books had zesty texts full of repeated phrases and a lot of broad action. Other books contained few words, but the field of action was limited, and the pictures carried much of the story.
Second, a use of repetition, whether in repeated words or in story structure. We saw this in almost every book we read and loved. Some of our favorites were the Provensens’ Old Mother Hubbard, with a page turn before the dog’s nonsensical reaction to each Mother Hubbard action is revealed; Blueberries for Sal, with its parallel stories of Little Sal and Little Bear and its chantable kerplink kerplank kerplunk sounds; and Sue Williams’s I Went Walking, similar to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? but with a satisfying and child-pleasing story framework.
Third, a construction that allowed for (but did not demand) some kind of reader participation. Many of the best books for small children seem to be constructed with some room in them — space that lets the child and the adult expand the reading experience. For instance, one of the first things we all seem to teach our children are the sounds different animals make, and many books seem to tacitly encourage mooing and meowing simply by picturing cows and cats. (See Nancy Tafuri’s Early Morning in the Barn for an ingenious, overt animal-sounds book.) These books are complete in themselves, and work perfectly well when read aloud without embellishment. But they also seem to promote participation — whether it be points in the narrative art that call for comment; strategically placed wordless spreads that provide a chance to recap action or to prepare for what comes next; words or phrases in the text that call for gestures or actions; or situations that call for something as simple as added sound effects (like animal sounds). And some of them provide opportunities to carry over some of the delights of baby-play (such as “This little piggie” or “Trot, trot to Boston”) into the comparatively new experience of reading.
Nancy Tafuri’s minimalist The Ball Bounced was one of our earliest favorites — a perfect transition from board book to picture book. With its brief (33 words), verb-heavy text, its homey, familiar setting, and its satisfyingly circular plot full of surprise and action, it affords a short but complete reading experience, and mirrors the adventure small children find in the most mundane of activities. As a baby is being carried out the back door in Mother’s laundry basket, he jettisons his ball, and off it bounces. “The cat jumped. / The water splashed. / the dog ran / the door slammed,” etc., until the ball stops — right next to the baby. “And the baby laughed.” (The ball’s eventful and entertaining journey is baby’s to enjoy alone, by the way: Mother has her back turned, hanging out the laundry — a shared secret between book character and child reader.) Tafuri’s pictures are bold, in extreme close-up; they held Emily’s attention completely. But the active verbs encouraged me to add a kind of fingerplay to the already-satisfying experience of the book: I would walk my two fingers along the pages as the dog ran, flap my hand up in flight along with the bird (and land with a tickle), and “slam” the book with my arm in imitation of the door. She never failed to laugh at the end, along with the baby.
In John Steptoe’s Baby Says, the story is all in the two brothers’ faces. Baby — who, plump and cuddly in his molten-sunshine pajamas, is the epitome of babyhood, both nuisance and pure joy — wants out of the playpen, and pesters his big brother until that softy lets him out. Then, parroting brother’s words — “Okay. Uh, oh. No, no” — he heads straight for the irresistible tower of blocks brother has laboriously constructed, and knocks it down. Then follow two glorious spreads, one wordless, with brother glowering at mischievous baby, the next showing brother won over by baby’s spontaneous kiss. “Okay, baby. Okay.” By supplying just seven words in different combinations, the author forces the adult reader to pay close attention to this small home movie of a picture book. Intonation is everything. Knowledge of who is saying what is everything. But whether it was the emotion-filled pictures, the repeated words (with someone else being told “no”), or our own narration, Emily loved it. And since she called it “Uh-oh,” she could ask for it before she could talk.
A more recent beautifully-paced-for-toddlers book is Peggy Rathmann’s sweet and sly Good Night, Gorilla. What will your child like most about it? Following the progress of the released balloon? Eagerly awaiting that cartoon-like sequence of big and small goodnights followed by a pair of very surprised eyes popping open in the dark? It will probably vary from night to night, but there will always be something to keep a small child’s attention.
Two of our all-time favorite books raised the use of repetition to high art. Elfrida Vipont and Raymond Briggs’s brilliant Elephant and the Bad Baby begins with a deceptive innocence: “Once upon a time there was an elephant.” We see a massive elephant standing still — though it soon will prove itself very light on its feet (and equally light-fingered) — dwarfing the airplanes buzzing about it like mosquitoes. The elephant meets up with a “bad baby,” and they soon become the Thelma and Louise of the picture-book set, rampaging through town lifting goodies from this shop and that. Though it looks like it has far too many words for young children, in fact it is the ideal two-year-old book: a romp so full of action and choice repetition and so perfectly paced that it is more like an exhilarating amusement-park ride than a picture book. Much controversy has arisen over the plot (we are talking rampant shoplifting here) and over calling the baby “bad” (though he does learn to say please); all that went right over the head of Emily-at-two. She loved the refrain, which virtually repeats as is on each page, with only the scenes of the crime changing: “Soon they met an ice cream man. And the Elephant said to the Bad Baby, ‘Would you like an ice cream?’ And the Bad Baby said yes. So the Elephant stretched out his trunk, and took an ice cream for himself and an ice cream for the Bad Baby. And they went rumpeta rumpeta rumpeta, all down the road, with the ice cream man running after.” She loved those galloping rumpetas, the contrast between the immense elephant and the small baby, the angry merchants going “bump into a heap,” and the reassuring ending to the wild adventure, as the elephant rumpetas off into the night, “but the bad baby went to bed.” Here is a perfect last sentence: the alliteration and the rhythm and the droning emphasis of those one-syllable words winding down the book like a worn-out baby.
John Burningham’s Mr. Gumpy’s Outing was practically Emily’s mantra as a small child (she used it, rather than the traditional blanket or stuffed animal, as her so-called “comfort object”). Here the repetition is in story structure, as two children and then a succession of animals, each larger than the last, politely ask to join Mr. Gumpy on his boat ride. “‘Can I come along, Mr. Gumpy?’ said the rabbit. ‘Yes, but don’t hop about.’” Never mind that the average one- and two-year-old doesn’t know enough animal behavior to be able to anticipate the inevitable disaster. The introduction of each personality-rich animal in close-up on the righthand page (as the left page shows the ever-more-crowded boat) and Mr. Gumpy’s unheeded warnings allow for the incorporation of a variety of sounds and actions (the most fun is the pig “mucking about” and chickens flapping: the mucking about calls for some creative interpretation, and the flapping calls for a lot of energetic exercise). The two double-page spreads — of the capsize and the tea party — provide plenty of time and space to locate and identify all the characters. (It was of particular interest to the pre-verbal Emily that the little girl’s hair flew straight up as she fell into the water; Emily would always make her own hair stand straight up as well.) The book’s pacing is impeccable, from the introduction of Mr. Gumpy and the build-up of the appealing animal cast, to the exciting, kersplashing climax, to the reassuring resolution. Again, the book has a remarkably satisfying last line: an open-ended, inclusive, circular “come for a ride another day.”
Two more recent examples of books using repetition with great success are Ashley Wolff’s Stella and Roy — a wonderful, toddler-empowering tortoise-and-the-hare variant, in which slow and steady wins the race for younger brother Roy on his little four-wheeler (“and Roy rolled right on by”) — and Minfong Ho’s Hush!: A Thai Lullaby, with its humorously overzealous mother trying to hush all the animals in the jungle in turn so that her baby can sleep.
These are just a few examples of what’s out there for the youngest reader. There is much more to recommend and share — whether you read books straight through or make them, when appropriate, into more participatory experiences. (Obviously, how much embellishment you add depends on the material, the situation, and the child. You wouldn’t add train sounds or quiz your child on color identification if you were reading Freight Train at bedtime to a sleepy toddler.) For us, the books in which we participated — the ones in which that curious alchemy took place — are the ones we both remember best. We’ve moved on now, to books for older picture-book readers — and Emily has long since outgrown the need for those transitional moos and bounces. But at age one, and at two, such participation helped make reading into something active, something she helped make happen. And that seems like the first step toward the more internal but just as participatory activity of independent reading — and toward a lifelong love of books.
From the March/April 1997 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
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Don’t be frightened. The ten (not-so) terrifying tales reviewed by the Horn Book staff in our annual Halloween roundup are only make-believe. (Wait, what’s that behind you?)
by Alexandra Day; illus. by the author
Preschool Ferguson/Farrar 32 pp.
8/15 978-0-374-31082-0 $14.99
When Mom blithely announces that she’s going over to Grandma’s for a while and that Rottweiler Carl and his girl (Good Dog, Carl and sequels) can hand out the candy to trick-or-treaters, well, you can see from the September/October Horn Book’s cover illustration that things don’t go exactly like that. Carl and the little girl take over the action in a series of wordless, sumptuous double-page spreads, donning the most minimal of costumes (a necklace for Carl; a hat for the girl) to join the Halloween festivities. Gratifyingly, Carl never looks anything but doglike, although his facial expressions belie his care for the girl as he gently guides — and eventually carries — her about the neighborhood. Per usual, the watercolor illustrations are gloriously hued, the red feather in the girl’s hat gorgeous against the October evening sky. ROGER SUTTON
Trick Arrr Treat: A Pirate Halloween
by Leslie Kimmelman;
illus. by Jorge Monlongo
Primary Whitman 32 pp.
9/15 978-0-8075-8061-5 $16.99 g
Six young swashbucklers — including Toothless Tim, Rude Ranjeet, and “pirate chief” Charlotte Blue-Tongue — plunder their neighborhood for candy on Halloween. The digital palette of oranges and purples grows darker as the evening advances and the trick-or-treaters’ imaginations grow. The young pirates continue “a-romping” until a mysterious shadow that may or may not be a “big black monster, sly and cunning” gets “the frightened pirates running.” With its kid-friendly rhymes and abundance of pirate lingo (“TRICK ARRR TREAT!”), this appealing mash-up of Halloween and pirate themes captures the lighthearted fun of the holiday. Nothing can deter a band of pirates…as long as those pirates are home before dark. MOLLY GLOVER
Tacky and the Haunted Igloo
by Helen Lester;
illus. by Lynn Munsinger
Primary Houghton 32 pp.
7/15 978-0-544-33994-1 $16.99 g
Tacky the Penguin and pals (Happy Birdday, Tacky!, rev. 7/13, and others) get into the Halloween spirit by decorating their igloo and preparing trick-or-treat goodies. Actually, his penguin friends do all the work while “Snacky Tacky sampled the treats,” etc. On Halloween night, the haunted igloo is a spooky success, until three hunters dressed as ghosts arrive and demand “all yer yummy treats / Or we do something skearies.” Not a problem, if there were any treats left. But wait! Who’s this “skeary” hunter at the door? Is he the biggest hunter’s “twin brudder”? Tacky’s fans will recognize the odd-bird hero, but it’s enough to scare off the real hunters. The affectionate text and nonthreatening illustrations play up the absurdity of the situation. KITTY FLYNN
by Ethan Long; illus. by the author
Primary Bloomsbury 32 pp.
8/15 978-1-61963-337-7 $16.99 g
e-book ed. 978-1-61963-418-3 $9.99
The first rule of Fright Club: don’t talk about Fright Club. The next rule? Only the truly scary can be members. Discrimination! cries a bunny, who wastes no time seeking representation, then organizing a demonstration. “HISS, MOAN, BOO! WE CAN SCARE TOO!” chant a butterfly, ladybug, turtle, and squirrel. And scare they do, disrupting the Fright Club meeting and proving their fearsome bona fides just in time for “Operation Kiddie Scare.” It’s a funny Halloween concept that delivers, through Long’s spry text — Ghost: “What are we going to do?!?” Vampire Vladimir: “NOTHING! If you ignore cute little critters, they eventually go away!” — and cartoony digitally colored (but very sparely, it’s mostly all shadowy grays) graphite-pencil illustrations. ELISSA GERSHOWITZ
by Ed Masessa; illus. by Matt Myers
Primary Orchard/Scholastic 32 pp.
7/15 978-0-545-69109-3 $16.99 g
Stripping off his layers of straw and clothing, a skeleton finishes his workday as a scarecrow and meets up with “ghoulies and ghosties” to “dance under the moon.” A large cast of monsters (furry, scaly, two-headed, or giant) spend all night with the scarecrow, playing games (including hide-and-seek and jacks) and fighting mock battles until the sun starts to rise. Myers’s inventive “troublesome” creatures and ecstatically animated skeleton are depicted through strong black outlines and thick, bold strokes. The rhyming (though occasionally stumbling) text and playful illustrations make this a festive read-aloud. SIÂN GAETANO
Peanut Butter and Brains: A Zombie Culinary Tale
by Joe McGee;
illus. by Charles Santoso
Primary Abrams 32 pp.
8/15 978-1-4197-1247-0 $16.95
While the rest of the horde demands “BRAINSSSSS” for “breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” all zombie Reginald wants is a good ol’ PB&J. After striking out at the corner café, the school cafeteria, and the grocery store, Reginald lurches toward a little girl and her paper-bag lunch — sending the townspeople into a panic. But this humorous story ends happily for everyone once the other zombies get a taste of the classic sandwich. The illustrations’ rounded shapes and pastel watercolor washes portray zombies who are more cute than scary, and full of personality. Signs and balloons with images of brains inside cleverly communicate the zombies’ food preferences in a nonverbal way — after all, zombies aren’t very articulate. KATIE BIRCHER
Happy Halloween, Witch’s Cat!
by Harriet Muncaster;
illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary Harper/HarperCollins 32 pp.
7/15 978-0-06-222916-8 $15.99
In I Am a Witch’s Cat, readers first met the imaginative little girl who enthusiastically maintains, “My mom is a witch, and I am her special witch’s cat.” In this outing, Halloween approaches, and the mother-daughter team heads to the costume shop, where the girl gives an array of options a whirl: “Maybe a silver skeleton? / Too bony! How about a pink ballerina? / Too frilly!” Her final decision is a satisfying, gentle twist on the story’s premise. This book’s standout feature is Muncaster’s unique, endlessly perusable art: three-dimensional scenes combined with mixed-media flat illustrations and textured fabrics, photographed and digitized. KATRINA HEDEEN
by Leslie Patricelli; illus. by the author
Preschool Candlewick 28 pp.
7/15 978-0-7636-6320-9 $6.99
In this board-book treat, Patricelli’s diapered baby picks a “just right” pumpkin, helps Daddy carve a familiar-looking jack-o’-lantern (a pumpkin selfie, if you will), and chooses a scary costume: “W-w-what’s that? Oh. It’s only me.” Trick-or-treating with Daddy is a bit spooky, too, until the little ghostie discovers there’s candy involved. The lively color-saturated illustrations play off the simple, direct text, adding humor and silliness to the mix. Two interactive double-page spreads — “How should we carve our jack-o’-lantern?” and “What should I be?” — involve young listeners in the fun and prep newbies for these holiday highlights. KITTY FLYNN
The Little Shop of Monsters
by R. L. Stine;
illus. by Marc Brown
Primary Little, Brown 40 pp.
8/15 978-0-316-36983-1 $17.00 g
Two children’s literature icons team up to create this funny-scary adventure. “If you think you’re brave enough, then come with me” to the Little Shop of Monsters. Two children — a boy, reluctant; and a younger girl, more daring — view the shop’s merchandise, from the Snacker (whose favorite treat is hands) to the Sleeper-Peeper (who hides under kids’ beds). The litany of introductions settles into a predictable pattern — until the clever twist at the end, which will have readers quickly turning the last page (“Phew! You just escaped!”). Stine’s direct-address text is pitched for delicious thrills and chills, while Brown’s cheery palette and over-the-top depictions of the monsters offset the terror just enough. MARTHA V. PARRAVANO
There Was an Old Mummy
Who Swallowed a Spider
by Jennifer Ward; illus. by Steve Gray
Preschool, Primary Two Lions 32 pp.
7/15 978-1-4778-2637-9 $16.99 g
“There was an old mummy… / who swallowed a spider. / I don’t know why he swallowed the spider. / Open wider!” Anyone familiar with the original folksong can guess what happens next in this twisted twist: the mummy’s belly (or what used to be his belly) is soon full of things that go bump in the night. The new rhymes have a few bumps, too, but this mummy tale is wrapped up perfectly. (Ironically, the macabre ending of the original would be redundant here.) Cartoonish digital illustrations use lots of wide, fearful eyes and luminous backgrounds to make the graveyard and haunted-castle settings glow with Halloween anticipation. SHOSHANA FLAX
From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
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This is one gorgeous picture book. It’s perhaps even more remarkable, given that it’s by a debut artist. Since its publication last June, it has gotten lots of love. And even more love.
Most reviews refer to the way the story tugs at the heartstrings: “A weeper.” “Heart-breaking.” I have to say that the message I took away from the book was less Look How Much They Love Each Other and more Watch This Young Boy Become an Artist. By trying to make the best boat possible for his absent father, Buckley hones his craft: “And each time he made a new boat, it was even better than the last.” Little by little, through hard work and incentive and love and practice and more practice, we see his initial crude efforts — essentially just hunks of driftwood with sticks for masts — become sophisticated, complex, intricate, beautifully crafted works of art.
The ink and watercolor illustrations are simply stunning. The watercolor medium is of course an apt one for this edge-of-the-ocean tale, but that doesn’t begin to express how completely Bagley captures the look and feel of a driftwood- and seaweed-strewn shore. From the colors of water, sand, and sky at various times of day to the way she conveys that sometimes-undefinable edge between ocean and beach and between ocean and sky: it’s all spectacular. She also transitions organically from the shorescapes to the scenes set inside Buckley’s humble home. The use of line (and ink) in the indoor scenes make them tighter and more controlled, and yet the edges of the pictures always retain that watery feel, linking them to the outdoor scenes.
The endpapers are both thematically meaningful and glorious. I love how the driftwood scattered over the beach on the opening endpapers then morph into Buckley’s finished boats hanging on his display wall on the closing endpapers. The endpapers visually reflect the book’s theme of turning raw materials into art.
There are a few things that throw me off a bit:
- Why are the characters beavers? It seems an odd choice for a book set not by a lake or pond but by the sea.
- For a debut picture book creator, Bagley seems comfortable and in control. She allows the story to unfold at a very deliberate and leisurely pace. She has confidence in her ability to hold readers’ attention for what is really (outwardly, at least) a not-very-eventful story. Nevertheless, the pacing at the start is off, for me. The book opens with a series of double-page spreads of the shorescape, and they set the scene beautifully. But, if you count the opening endpapers, we get four of these scene-setting double-page spreads, and then the first time we get to the true meat of the book — Buckley making things with his hands — that happens in a teeny little vignette.
- I can’t shake the feeling that the story has an adult sensibility. Everyone seems to agree that the book will generate strong emotions in readers, but I see more adults getting all choked up than children. However, this may not be of primary importance to the Caldecott committee, which is looking at the art first and the text/story only secondarily.
Over to you all! What are your thoughts about this very impressive picture book debut and its chances on the Caldecott table?
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By: Roger Sutton
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by Kevin Henkes; illus. by the author
Preschool Greenwillow 32 pp.
9/15 978-0-06-236843-0 $17.99
Library ed. 978-0-06-236844-7 $18.99 g
Waiting is a huge part of every child’s life, and Henkes uses a light touch to address the topic. Five toys wait on a windowsill. An owl waits for the moon; a pig holding an umbrella waits for rain; a bear with a kite waits for wind; and a puppy on a sled waits for snow. The fifth toy, a rabbit head on a spring, “wasn’t waiting for anything in particular. He just liked to look out the window and wait.” Henkes’s five friends are drawn with confident brown outlines filled in with a muted palette of light greens, blues, and pinks in colored-pencil and watercolor. A straightforward text sets up predictable patterns, while the design is varied, with horizontal and oval vignettes and full pages showing the entire window — including an especially striking sequence of four wordless pages. Time passes slowly, day to night, through wind, rain, and seasons, while small changes in the characters’ body positions and eyes show a range of emotions, from dismay (at lightning) to curiosity (at small trinkets added to the sill). Near the end, a large, rounded toy cat joins the quintet and waits for — what? Suddenly, we see that she has four smaller nesting cats inside. The book ends as quietly as it began, with welcoming acceptance of the five new inhabitants on the now-crowded windowsill. Henkes provides no deep meanings and sends no messages; he’s just showing what waiting can be like. Perhaps listeners will find a model for making long waits seem less tiresome: be still and notice what’s around you.
From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
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By: Roger Sutton
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Roger Sutton and the Horn Book at Simmons editors panel. Photo: Shoshana Flax.
On Saturday, October 3rd, we held our fifth annual Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium, with the theme “Transformations.” Miss the fun? We’ve compiled a timeline of the day’s highlights based on tweets by our staff and other attendees. See Friday’s ceremony timeline here.
9:07 am: Good morning! We’re ready for a full day of great discussion about good children’s books!
9:10 am: Cathie Mercier: It’s easy to read what we know and like, but how do we push ourselves to read outside ourselves, read “otherways”?
9:14 am: @jescaron: @RogerReads and Cathie Mercier open #HBAS15 with words of wisdom and “grounding”
9:15 am: @RogerReads introducing keynote speaker Susan Cooper
9:19 am: Susan: Transformation in nature is generally cyclical. What about change in our minds? Imagination doesn’t follow any rules
9:20 am: @jescaron: Susan: “Change is an integral part of stories — it is called plot.”
9:21 am: Susan: Can words spark an unpredictable change in the mind?
9:22 am: @ShoshanaFlax: SC clearly read the May @HornBook carefully #swoon
9:24 am: Susan discussing different types of book transformations: retellings, adaptations from other media, making books more accessible
9:26 am: Susan: Fantasy is metaphor… It takes you through the imagination to truth
9:27 am: @jescaron: “People who write fantasy have chosen transformation…finding the magic from the real”
9:30 am: A tumultuous year in Susan’s personal life had profound effects on her writing. “As with writers, so with readers” — we seek escape in words
9:31 am: Susan: When reading, your imagination lives in the book. Reading is creating experience from imagination
9:32 am: Susan: This experience of living in a book can change you
9:33 am: Susan: Letters from readers say, “I read your book, and my world changed a little,” even if readers can’t articulate exactly how
9:35 am: Susan: “The imagination of a reader instinctively takes what it needs from a book and creates a kind of life belt”
9:38 am: Susan: You realize which books had a profound effect on your childhood imagination only by looking back
9:40 am: Susan: An imagination that delights in books as a child grows up and is able to nurture a hunger for books in the next generation
9:43 am: Which books were transformative for Susan in childhood? The Box of Delights and The Midnight Folk by John Masefield
9:44 am: Susan: Nonfiction can be transformative too: “a story is a story”
10:02 am: Nonfiction winner Candace Fleming and editor Anne Schwartz on “Bringing History to the Page”
10:03 am: Candace echoing Jacqueline Woodson’s metaphor of writing as childbirth: you forget how miserable it is and then you’re ready to do it again
10:04 am: Candace writes in longhand on loose-leaf paper — the smell of the ink is reassuring, reminds her of what she’s accomplishing
10:05 am: @jescaron: The Family Romanov went from a light and fluffy book to its final state — transformation!
10:06 am: Anne: As an editor it’s very difficult to ask an author to start over; both author and editor have already invested a lot of work
10:08 am: Fascinating to see original drafts, notes, and editorial letters for what became The Family Romanov
10:11 am: Anne liked the format of text snippets and sidebars, creating a narrative like a tapestry
10:15 am: Anne asked questions Candace “never saw coming,” which made her think about her research and narrative in different ways
10:18 am: Candace: “Anne is the best editor because she questions everything–and that makes me a much better writer”
10:21 am: Going to Russia helped Candace really understand the disparity between the Romanovs and the peasants whose “backs the palaces were built on”
10:23 am: Candace: Stories of peasant lives in Imperial Russia and the Russian Revolution are extremely difficult to find
10:28 am: Candace: Writing good nonfiction requires finding the “vital idea” you want to communicate, not just the facts
10:51 am: An Amazon reviewer called Candace a “vile socialist” for her portrayal of the Romanovs. She’s proud
11:06 am: Judge Maeve Visser Knoth in conversation with #bghb15 honoree Jon Agee about It’s Only Stanley in “How Do I Make You Laugh, Too?”
11:07 am: Stanley, like all of Jon’s books, started as a doodle in a notebook. If one of Jon’s doodles makes him laugh, he tries to follow that idea and flesh it out
11:10 am: Jon: Writing a picture book is “like fishing” — you start with an idea and “see if you can bring this fish in”
11:13 am: Jon says developing the plot of his picture books comes from a series of “what if” questions
11:14 am: Jon discussing how page-turns work with punchlines
11:18 am: Jon: “Sometimes when you’re working on a picture book, it’s like the story is already there” and you’re excavating it
11:27 am: Lear’s limericks made a big impression on Jon. They were about grown-ups, but grown-ups who were doing ridiculous things
1:08 pm: Great breakout sessions all around! Now @RogerReads is going to moderate editor panel “It’s a Manuscript Until I Say It’s a Book” #HBAS15
1:13 pm: Each editor is sharing a story of the “editorial magic” that helped turn the author’s manuscript into a #BGHB15-winning book
1:19 pm: Editor Liz Bicknell: “Editing is a backstage job. I wear black and sit in the curtains.”
1:20 pm: @maryj59: Liz: “Every writer demands different things of an editor.”
1:25 pm: Rosemary Brosnan: As an editor, “I like to feel that if I’ve done my job well, no one knows I exist”
1:39 pm: Nancy Paulsen: Editing is about “finding the writing that sings to you” as an individual reader — it might not be for everybody
1:34 pm: @jescaron: Editors muse on advice to younger selves — Don’t be so rash
1:36 pm: @jescaron: Editors muse on advice to younger selves — Try to get a good picture of the marketplace
1:38 pm: @jescaron: Editors muse on advice to younger selves — Have confidence that you will eventually figure it out
1:39 pm: @jescaron: Editors muse on advice to younger selves — Don’t stay out so late
1:40 pm: @ShoshanaFlax: @nancyrosep & @lizbicknell1 both cite editor’s role to stand in for readers
1:52 pm: Nancy: “We all have the same goal…to make the best book possible.” Rosemary: “Sometimes we have to remind the author of that!”
1:44 pm: @maryj59: Rosemary: “An idea is just an idea. It’s the execution that matters.”
2:06 pm: Gregory Maguire in conversation with #BGHB15 judge Jessica Tackett MacDonald about Egg & Spoon in “Bringing Baba Yaga Home”
2:10 pm: Gregory: A story can have any number of inspirations. It’s not a one-to-one ratio
2:16 pm: Gregory discovered different roles for Baba Yaga in Russian folktales: the scary witch, the kindly crone… “That made her human”
2:17 pm: Gregory: “I had to get out of Baba Yaga’s way… It sometimes felt like channeling the devil”
2:20 pm: A theme of Egg & Spoon is “What can we little ones do” in the face of problems? What we older ones can do is give little ones courage
2:21 pm: Gregory: “I don’t write [specifically] for adults or for kids. I write for people who like to read Gregory Maguire books”
2:23 pm: Gregory quoting Katherine Paterson: “The consolation of the imagination is not imaginary consolation”
2:17 pm: @deirdrea: Gregory on why he loves Baba Yaga: “What we look like and what people think we are is NOT who we are.”
2:26 pm: Gregory showing us inspirational objects — including a tiny Baba Yaga house — he kept on his desk while writing Egg & Spoon
2:30 pm: @RogerReads asks, Are today’s readers well-versed enough in fairy tales & folklore to know the references Gregory is asking them to engage with?
2:32 pm: Gregory Maguire: Maybe Egg & Spoon is a reader’s first introduction to Baba Yaga, but he hopes it won’t be their last introduction
2:37 pm: @RogerReads has nothing to do with the BGHB judges’ choices, but “the happiest news I got this year was the announcement that The Farmer and the Clown won BGHB Picture Book Award”
2:40 pm: Marla Frazee & editor Allyn Johnston discussing The Farmer and the Clown in “Do I Need Words with That?”
2:41 pm: Love seeing Marla and Allyn’s work spaces — and the real-life boys (their sons!) — from A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever!
2:46 pm: A Couple of Boys… started as an illustrated thank-you note from Marla, James, and Eamon to Allyn’s parents for the boys’ nature camp trip
2:54 pm: Original title: “A Couple of Boys Go to Nature Camp (Sort Of)”
3:02 pm: Whoa, neither Marla nor Allyn had done a wordless book before The Farmer and the Clown!
3:07 pm: Marla: Part of The Farmer and the Clown illustration process was soaking the art in the bathtub between pencil and color!
3:19 pm: Really interesting backstory for Marla’s upcoming book with Victoria Chang, Is Mommy?
3:26 pm: #BGHB15 committee chair Barbara Scotto speaking with Neal and Brendan Shusterman about Challenger Deep in “When Life Provides the Story”
3:30 pm: Barbara: Did writing Challenger Deep change the meaning of the experience of facing mental illness for Neal and Brendan?
3:32 pm: Neal’s own tumultuous emotions — deep depression followed by euphoria — during a hospitalization for a blood disorder contributed to the novel as well
3:34 pm: Brendan: Mental illness is something we need to talk about. It’s easy to feel that you’re alone
3:37 pm: It was important to Neal to show Caden’s strength in facing and managing his illness, despite fact that it will never go away entirely
3:38 pm: Brendan’s original art is all in color; helped him to express what he was feeling during an episode. There’s a huge volume not included in Challenger Deep
3:39 pm: Much of the narrative of Challenger Deep was inspired by Neal’s interpretations of Brendan’s art
3:42 pm: Neal: the changes made to the manuscript in the editing process were small but extremely precise
3:46 pm: Neal: “When I submitted this manuscript, I was terrified…I had no idea if it even worked…As a writer you always need to be on that edge”
3:50 pm:@RogerReads asks, What was it was like for Neal when his fictional story started to diverge from Brendan’s real experience?
3:51 pm: Neal: it was easiest to write the pieces that did diverge, challenging to dovetail the 2 so readers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference
3:56 pm: Neal: “I look back at my body of work, and I feel that I everything I have written helped me to write this book”
4:01 pm: Cathie Mercier of @SimmonsCollege wisely and wittily recapping our day. How does she do that?!
4:03 pm: Cathie: “The writer lives two lives: the life lived, and the life unfolding on the page. The reader lives those dual lives too”
4:13 pm: Cathie: Who are the readers we leave behind? What are the topics we avoid due to discomfort? How can we transform literature itself?
4:14 pm: Cathie: Will we be able to transform ourselves to join young readers in the reading future?
4:15 pm: Thanks so much for a fantastic weekend at #BGHB15 and #HBAS15! See you next year!
More on the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards and the following day’s Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium, “Mind the Gaps: Books for All Young Readers,” is coming soon! Follow us on Twitter for updates on all things Horn Book.
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The winners and honorees. Photo: Aram Boghosian.
Did you miss the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards on Friday, October 2nd? Just want to relive the excitement of the ceremony? We’ve compiled a timeline of the evening’s highlights based on tweets by our staff and other attendees. See Saturday’s Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium timeline here.
5:43 pm: @jescaron: The crowd is gathering! Everyone ready for the ’15 @HornBook and @BostonGlobe Awards!
5:45 pm @Reflectlibrary: #HBAS15…I’m all a twitter!!
5:47 pm: Here we go… Cathie Mercier opening the #BGHB15 Awards ceremony!
5:51 pm: More opening remarks from the @BostonGlobe’s Linda Pizzuti Henry and @RogerReads of @HornBook. So much history with these three Boston institutions!
5:54 pm: @RogerReads: The BGHB Awards have only one central criterion: to honor excellence in books for children
5:56 pm: Chair Barbara Scotto will present the awards for fiction
5:58 pm: Gregory Maguire now accepting for Fiction Honor Book Egg & Spoon
6:00 pm: Gregory Maguire: “Baba Yaga c’est moi” — he most identifies with this madcap character
6:01 pm: @lauragmullen: Gregory Maguire accepts Boston Globe Horn Book Honor for Egg & Spoon and has room in stitches
6:02 pm: Gregory Maguire: We inherit a world of great beauty and great sorrow… We share both
6:03 pm: @SussingOutBooks: Gregory Maguire: “There are some things that are not diminished in being shared, but increased”
6:04 pm: Neal and Brendan Shusterman now accepting for Fiction Honor Book Challenger Deep
6:05 pm: Neal Shusterman: Challenger Deep began as just a title… What would “the deepest place on earth” mean in fiction?
6:06 pm: @ShoshanaFlax: Love that #BGHB15 award presentations include editors’ names #creditwhereit’sdue
6:07 pm: @lauragmullen: @NealShusterman “My editors taught me to write.” Delighted to learn from him at #BGHB15
6:08 pm: The Shusterman family’s experience with schizo-affective disorder provided a glimpse into that emotional “deepest place on earth”
6:09 pm: @jescaron: Challenger Deep — the story of a young adult struggling with mental illness and emerging from the deep
6:10 pm: @SussingOutBooks: “When I first turned in Challenger Deep, I had no idea how it would be received.” @NealShusterman, we are so glad you told THIS story
6:11 pm: Katherine Rundell’s editor David Gale accepting on her behalf for #BGHB15 Fiction Winner Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms
6:12 pm: Katherine Rundell is often asked, “Why children’s books? Why not ‘proper’ adult books?” Because children are extraordinary readers
6:13 pm: @MrsVanDusen223: Katherine Rundell: When you write you build a house. When kids read they build a castle
6:14 pm: Katherine Rundell: “I come back to children’s books because children’s books were there for me when I needed them most”
6:16 pm: Katherine Rundell: Books “helped me up and led me home” when lost. Children’s books say, “hope counts…love will matter”
6:18 pm: Katherine Rundell: “I asked [ed.] David Gale to read this out. I am making him thank himself. Which is a particular pleasure because he is so brilliant and modest”
6:20 pm: @jescaron: “Children’s books are not an way back out but a way in… they were not a crutch, they were wings”
6:21 pm: Judge Jessica Tackett MacDonald presenting Nonfiction Awards
6:23 pm: Editor Wesley Adams accepting on behalf of Phillip Hoose for Nonfiction Honor Book The Boys Who Challenged Hitler
6:25 pm: Phillip Hoose: Knud Petersen knew this book was his last chance to tell the story of The Churchill Club right
6:28 pm: Editor Nancy Paulsen accepting on Jacqueline Woodson’s behalf for Nonfiction Honor Book Brown Girl Dreaming
6:29 pm: @lauragmullen: @nancyrosep accepts #BGHB15 award on behalf of @JackieWoodson. What a team!!
6:30 pm: “Brown Girl Dreaming was not an easy book to write. I am glad to have that book in print — and out of me. Imagine a very long labor with no drugs”
6:31 pm: @SussingOutBooks: There were 32 drafts of Brown Girl Dreaming… @JackieWoodson @nancyrosep SO WORTH IT. Thank you for sharing your world with us
6:32 pm: Jacqueline Woodson: The post-labor euphoria of writing is having the book in print with a life of its own
6:33 pm: Candace Fleming accepting for #BGHB15 Nonfiction Award winner The Family Romanov
6:34 pm: @lauragmullen: She makes history have a heartbeat. The amazing @candacemfleming accepts her award for The Family Romanov
6:35 pm: Candace Fleming: The adult book Nicholas & Alexandra was (unwanted) book club selection of her mother’s, Candace’s first introduction to the Romanovs
6:36 pm: @jescaron: The Romanovs “were all roses and sweet kisses,” at least in Fleming’s memory
6:37 pm: Candace Fleming: The first drafts focused on Anastasia’s glamorous life with few hints of the sweeping events overtaking Russia
6:38 pm: Initially Candace Fleming avoided any mention of the Romanovs’ tragic end. The draft was factual, but not the truth
6:41 pm: Candace Fleming realized “I had work to do” when looking at her copious notes on the Romanovs’ riches but few on the lives of peasants
6:42 pm: Candace Fleming: “There is a difference between fact and truth, and to write a credible story—a compelling story—you need both”
6:43 pm: Judge Maeve Visser Knoth presenting award and honors for Picture Books
6:44 pm: Jon Agee accepting #BGHB15 Picture Book Honor for It’s Only Stanley
6:45 pm: Jon Agee: “It’s Only Stanley is a love story. There’s a lot of love in this book” although much of it is delusional, irrational love
6:46 pm: Jon Agee: there’s the canine love and then there’s the Wimbledon family’s love and trust for Stanley
6:47 pm: @jescaron: A book with a pink lunar poodle? Count me in! #ItsOnlyStanley
6:49 pm: Carmela Iaria accepting on behalf of Oliver Jeffers for #BGHB15 Picture Book Honor for Once Upon an Alphabet
6:51 pm: Oliver Jeffers: It was a risk to publish this weird, 112-page alphabet book, but worth it. Thank you to those who came on this strange journey
6:53 pm: Marla Frazee accepting #BGHB15 PB Award for The Farmer and the Clown. She’s glad to be in company of two of her favorite PB creators, Jon Agee and Oliver Jeffers
6:55 pm: Marla Frazee was baffled and troubled by conversations on social media around The Farmer and the Clown
6:56 pm: Marla Frazee: “Making sure words and pictures don’t stomp all over each other is maybe harder than focusing on one or the other”
6:57 pm: @jescaron: “Words and pictures can be equally misinterpreted”
6:58 pm: Marla Frazee: Saying that wordless books cede control to the reader is saying that the visual narrative provides a less powerful story
6:59 pm: Marla Frazee: Children are better at reading visual narratives than grown-ups are
7:01 pm: Because young children can’t yet read or read well, they rely on the visual narrative to guide them from emotion to emotion in a picture book
7:02 pm: Marla Frazee: The @HornBook has been a master’s class in children’s books for her since she graduated art school… 33 years! ♥
7:04 pm: Marla Frazee has taken heart in readers’ responses to The Farmer and the Clown — particularly very small children’s responses
7:05 pm: Marla Frazee: wordless books speak directly, secretly to children — no adult mediator necessary
7:06 pm: @RogerReads turning us loose to mingle, get books signed, and ooh and ahh over the winners
7:07 pm: See you tomorrow for #HBAS15 — lots more to come!
7:11 pm: @EmilyProcknal: Congratulations to all the 2015 @BostonGlobe – @HornBook Award honorees and winners. What an incredible evening at @SimmonsCollege
11:59 pm: @Wozleigh: Worth long drive for #HBAS15 tomorrow with @RogerReads, @NealShusterman, @candacemfleming, @nancyrosep, Liz Bicknell, Gregory Maguire, and SUSAN COOPER!
More coverage of the 2015 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards and the following day’s Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium, “Transformations,” is on the way! In the meantime, follow us on Twitter for updates on all things Horn Book.
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