The ALSC Notable Children’s Books committee is charged with identifying the best of the best in children’s books. According to the Notables Criteria, “notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.
If you’re like me, you have been eagerly anticipating the list of titles to be discussed at the Annual Conference. Here it is!
3, 2, 1, Go! by Emily Arnold McCully. Holiday House.
The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.
Click! by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Holiday House.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle. Illus. by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Fetch by Jorey Hurley. Simon & Schuster/A Paula Wiseman Book.
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Feast by Emily Jenkins. Illus. by Sophie Blackall. Random House/Schwartz and Wade
Fly! by Karl Newsom Edwards. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.
Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin. Illus. by Harry Bliss. Abrams.
The Grasshopper and the Ants by Jerry Pinkney. Little Brown and Company.
How to Draw a Dragon by Douglas Florian. Beach Lane Books.
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray.
In by Nikki McClure. Abrams/Appleseed.
It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee. Penguin Group/Dial Books for Young Readers.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. Illus. by Christian Robinson. Penguin/Putnam.
Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker. Illus. by Daniel Salmieri. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray.
My Pen by Christopher Myers. Disney/Hyperion.
New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer. Illus. by Eric Velasquez. Holiday House.
P. Zonka Lays an Egg by Julie Paschkis. Peachtree.
A Poem in Your Pocket by Margaret McNamara. Illus. by G. Brian Karas. Schwartz & Wade Books.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall. Harper Collins/Greenwillow Books.
Should You Be a River: A Poem about Love by Ed Young. Little Brown and Company.
Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson. Illus. by Sydney Smith. House of Anansi Press/Groundwood Books.
The Skunk by Mac Barnett. Illus. by Patrick McDonnell. Roaring Brook Press.
Spectacular Spots by Susan Stockdale. Peachtree.
Stormy Night by Salina Yoon. Bloomsbury.
Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle. Illus. by Stephanie Yue. Scholastic/Orchard Books.
Supertruck by Stephen Savage. Roaring Book Press/A Neal Porter Book.
Toad Weather by Sandra Markle. Illus. by Thomas Gonzalez. Peachtree.
Whale Trails: Before and Now by Lesa Cline-Ransome. Illus. by G. Brian Karas. Henry Holt and Company/Christy Ottaviano Books.
When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt. Illus. by Jill McElmurry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
A Wonderful Year by Nick Bruel. Roaring Brook Press/A Neal Porter Book.
FICTION (INCLUDING FICTION, VERSE NOVELS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS)
Audacity by Melanie Crowder. Penguin/Philomel Books.
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Little Brown and Company
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly. Harper Collins/Greenwillow Books.
The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.
A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder. Illus. by Mary GrandPré. Random House/Crown Books for Young Readers.
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan. Illus. by Dinara Mirtalipova. Scholastic Press.
Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks. Illus. by Stevie Lewis. Henry Holt and Company.
Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt. Penguin Group/Nancy Paulsen Books.
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught. Simon Schuster/A Paula Wiseman Book.
Honey by Sarah Weeks. Scholastic Press.
The Imaginary by A. F. Harrold. Illus. by Emily Gravett. Bloomsbury.
Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lại. HarperCollins.
Moon Bear by Gill Lewis. Illus. by Alessandro Gottardo. Simon Schuster/Atheneum.
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall. Alfred A. Knopf.
Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale. Bloomsbury.
The Question of Miracles by Elana K. Arnold. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnichsen. Illus. by Amy June Bates. Simon & Schuster.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers.
Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum.
This Side of Home by Renée Watson. Bloomsbury.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers.
Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin. Penguin/Razorbill.
NON-FICTION (INCLUDING INFORMATION PICTURE BOOKS, POETRY AND FOLKLORE)
28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World by Charles R. Smith Jr. Illus. by Shane Evans. Roaring Brook Press/A Neal Porter Book.
Big Red Kangaroo by Claire Saxby. Illus. by Graham Byrne. Candlewick Press.
Bird & Diz by Gary Golio. Illus. by Ed Young. Candlewick Press.
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko. Illus. by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. Scholastic/Arthur A Levine Books.
Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects by Paul B. Janeczko (compiler). Illus. by Chris Raschka. Candlewick Press.
Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews by Kathleen Benson. Illus. by Benny Andrews. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Books.
Earmuffs for Everyone: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/A Paula Wiseman Book.
Egg: Nature’s Perfect Package by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Illus. by Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson. Illus. by Sean Qualls. Random House/Schwartz and Wade.
Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess. Illus. by Kris Di Giacomo. Enchanted Lion Books.
Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow. Highlights/Calkins Creek.
First Flight around the World: The Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race by Tim Grove. Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum/Abram Books.
Flowers Are Calling by Rita Gray. Illus. by Kenard Pak. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Gingerbread for Liberty: How a German Baker Helped with the American Revolution by Mara Rockliff. Illus. by Vincent X. Kirsch. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
In Mary’s Garden by Tina and Carson Kügler. Illus. by Carson Kügler. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby by Lee Bennett Hopkins (compiler). Illus. by Alyssa Nassner. Abrams/Appleseed.
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul. Illus. by Elizabeth Zunon. Lerner/Millbrook Press.
Rad American Women A to Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History… and Our Future by Kate Schatz. Illus. by Miriam Klein Stahl. City Lights Books.
Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane.
Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans. Illus. by Joe Cepeda. Holiday House.
Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli. Penguin Group/Viking.
Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrew. Illus. by Bryan Collier. Abram Books.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery. Illus. by P J Loughran. Penguin/Dial Books.
The Notable Children’s Books committee will be meeting Saturday, Sunday, and Monday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 during the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco. The discussions will take place in Room 3022 (W) of the Moscone Convention Center. The books will be discussed in the order they are on the list.
The post Notable Children’s Books Nominees — Summer 2015 #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.
Reading Roger Deakin’s book Notes from Walnut Tree Farm was a great joy. The book is composed of excerpts from notebooks he kept during the last six years of his life. He wrote in them almost daily his observations, impressions, thoughts, feelings and doings. So while the book is strung across the course of a year from January to December, the entires are pulled from six years of writing. They are not dated with a year and on any given day there might be multiple entries from various years. It sounds complicated and disjointed but it really isn’t. I had intended to read the book a month at a time, to move through the year along with the entries. But I couldn’t stop reading, I was enjoying myself far too much to be able to dribble the goodness out over an entire year.
Deakin has a keen eye and a great knowledge of the history of the land. He is a fan of the commons and the wild, an advocate for stewardship. He loves cats and birds and holds a great respect for all living things including the insects that make their way into his study since it seems his window screens are either non-existent or of such a large mesh he is guaranteed to be visited by something while sitting at his desk:
I think, yes, it really is another world, this microscopic insect world, a world apart. But almost at once I realize that to put insects into ‘another world’ or ‘a world apart’ is dangerous. In fact it is the rationale for exterminating them with pesticides. If theirs is ‘another world’, it has nothing to do with us. It is unconnected, and, whatever we choose to do to it, we ourselves are unaffected. The very reverse is the truth of course. Unless we realize we share a single world with the insects, and that if we harm them we harm ourselves and the rest of nature, we will end up destroying ourselves — committing suicide, in fact.
I think we are beginning to discover this with the bees and people are starting to speak out about it. But it has taken far too long to get to this place and we have a long way to go. It is easy to feel sorry for a dead honeybee, not so easy for people to be sorry about ants or flies.
If I can be enchanted by my cat, rolling in joy on the brick terrace before me, why can’t I be enchanted by a green shield bug in my vegetable garden, or two ants meeting and exchanging information with a flourish of their antennae? Or the billowing fizz of cow-parsley in full flower?
But Deakin isn’t all nature yes and civilization no, bugs good, people bad. It is possible to have a balance.
I blame the Romantics for all this self-consciousness about landscape and inspiration. Wandering lonely as a cloud may be the last thing you need sometimes. Going round the corner for breakfast in a steamy cafe may be much more like it.
Deakin has much to say about trees. I learned quite a lot about pollarding and coppicing, two things that seem to be a dying art, as is creating and properly maintaining hedgerows. He is also a person who enjoys working with wood and has considerable skill at turning felled trees into bookshelves or even sculptures. He is the kind of person who respects the tree and the wood, which I believe must infuse his work with respect, passion and love.
How wonderful it must have been to be Deakin’s friend and walk with him around his farm in Suffolk and the surrounding area. Deakin died in 2006, but he has left us his notebooks curated into the beautiful Notes from Walnut Tree Farm through which we may walk with him anytime no matter the weather.
Filed under: Books
Tagged: Roger Deakin
When I received an email from the publisher wanting to know if I’d like a review copy of Matthew Pearl’s newest book The Last Bookaneer I thought sure! I mean it’s about book pirates and even better it promised adventure in pursuit of a final novel and masterpiece by Robert Louis Stevenson. It seemed like it could be Treasure Island with books instead of gold doubloons.
The elements are all there for a swashbuckling tale. An ailing Robert Louis Stevenson is living in Samoa and reportedly working on a novel, sure to be his last and sure to be a masterpiece. The International Copyright Act of 1891 has been passed and goes into effect on July 1st, a law that will effectively cut off pirating of British books in America. We have two of the last great bookaneers, Penrose Davenport and Belial, each wanting to get their hands on Stevenson’s manuscript and sell it to an American publisher for a small fortune before the copyright act goes into effect and ends their careers for good. A rivalry, a race against time, planning and scheming to get into the Stevenson household and, once the book is completed, steel it and make a getaway. Doesn’t that sound exciting?
Unfortunately, the story plods along and most evenings managed to make my eyes start drooping within ten to fifteen minutes of picking up the book. The biggest problem is the way the story is told. Edgar Fergins, bookseller and former assistant to Davenport is our narrator. He befriends a young railway waiter, Mr. Clover, and begins dropping hints of his colorful past. He even takes Clover to see a trial of a man who turns out to be Belial, Davenport’s rival. But we don’t know this until later, much later. Fergins is helping with the trial as he is an expert in all things bookish including identifying documents and handwriting. When Fergins is severely burned in a fire at the courthouse that destroys all the trial evidence, Clover visits him regularly to help nurse him back to health. During these visits Fergins narrates the final showdown between Davenport and Belial.
It takes a very long time to get going because we are treated to Fergins’ backstory and how he came to be Davenport’s assistant, lots of bookaneer backstory that hints at excitement and treachery but ultimately has nothing to do with the current story. We also get lots of backstory about Davenport, a big, handsome man who fell in love with Kitten, one of the few women bookaneers. She was older than Davenport and also his mentor. Her death torments Davenport and is meant to provide him a brooding, emotional depth that just doesn’t work, especially when we eventually, very late in the book, get the whole story of what happened. It all turns out to be rather anticlimactic. And Belial, we don’t know much about him at all. At times it seems that just when the story is about to get exciting it is abruptly interrupted by Clover asking questions. This is done in such a way that occasionally makes it difficult to tell that it is Clover speaking and not some weird non sequitur.
When we finally get to Samoa and meet Stevenson, he turns out to be a bit of a thin, cardboardy, one-dimensional character. He is called “Tusitala” by the “natives” which means teller of stories. He has a large estate and presides over it and all of his Samoan servants as a benevolent patriarch. The Germans are the ones who first colonized Samoa and the plot gets side tracked with politics and hints of Stevenson supplying arms to the Samoans and fomenting a rebellion against the Germans. There are also mostly naked, beautiful Samoan women, cannibals, heads on stakes and other pointless diversions that sometimes made be feel like I was reading a very bad retelling of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
In addition to attempting to be an adventure tale, The Last Bookaneer tries to provide commentary on copyright law and the book and publishing world, some of it in jest. For instance, we get remarks about bookselling being a dying and unprofitable business. But we also are treated to comforting comments about the joys of reading:
Books could function in two different ways he told me one time, ‘They can lull us as would a dream, or they could change us, atom by atom, until we are closer to God. One way is passive, the other animating—both worthy.’
When it comes to copyright, the bookaneers see themselves as liberators of books, providing access that would have otherwise been denied or at the least, made difficult or expensive. But yet there are authors trying to make a living who are harmed by what the bookaneers do. Even Stevenson at one point in the novel rails against those who have stolen his right to income from his own work. It is an echo of the digital copyright battle happening today with publishers and a good many authors on one side and pirates on the other with the reading public caught in the middle. Perhaps in an attempt at seeing things from both sides, Pearl himself makes no judgment in spite of the novel being about book pirates.
In a sort of afterword, Pearl acknowledges that he did not make up the name of bookaneer. It was first used by the poet Thomas Hood in 1837. Nineteenth century publishers really did hire agents to obtain potentially valuable manuscripts before copyright laws caught up with them. Pearl took the idea and ran with it. Or, tried to run with it but manages at best an awkward, hopping kind of gait. It’s a real shame the book didn’t turn out to be the one I wanted to read. It would probably make a good beach or poolside book, one where it doesn’t matter if you don’t pay much attention, get it covered with sand or splashed with water or fruity cocktail. In fact, it might be really perfect for with a cocktail or two while sitting in the shade of an umbrella, a clear blue sky above and a long, lazy warm afternoon before you. If you feel your eyes begin to droop, let them and enjoy the nap.
Filed under: Books
Tagged: Book pirates
, Matthew Pearl