Give a Book!

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Icelandic tradition of giving books as gifts on Christmas Eve. Jolabokaflod, literally Christmas book flood, is a national tradition since the World War II years, when paper was one of the few things not rationed. Most books in Iceland are published in the fall of the year, and on Christmas Eve, family members open their new gift books and stay up late reading and drinking hot cocoa.

It’s a lovely tradition, but of course we can do it here, too! Books are one of the best Christmas gifts: they’re easy to ship, they’re fun to share, They’re perfect gifts for any age, and the pleasure can last a lifetime. If you’re planning to buy a child a book for Christmas (I hope you are!), here are some of the best new books from 2021.

For the picture book age, a Christmas themed book is often nice. Jan Brett has a new book on The Nutcracker, and you can expect her usual intricate illustrations.  I also like The Magical Christmas Store by Maudie Powell-Tuck, because the emphasis is on giving rather than receiving gifts.

The Nutcracker by Jan Brett  The Magical Christmas Store by Maudie Powell-Tuck

If you’d like to give something seasonal, but not about Christmas, take a look at A Thing Called Snow. Other great choices for picture books are It’s So Quiet, The Panda Problem, and Sheepish.

  A Thing Called Snow by Yuval Zommer   It's So Quiet by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Sheepish by Helen Yoon  The Panda Problem by Deborah Underwood

If your child is just moving into easy chapter books, you can’t go wrong with this Sydney & Taylor series (just look at those animals) or the Diary of a Pug books.

Sydney & Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World by Deborah Hocking   Pug's Got Talent by Kyla May

If you have a child who’s not totally into the whole reading thing, but who loves sports, you might want to buy We Are Family by LeBron James. I don’t normally recommend books by celebrities, but this has had great reviews! Esquire Fox, a reformed chicken thief, now leads leads operations around the world rescuing animals in danger in Class File: Little Claws. The second book in the Animal Rescue Agency series will be published in January of 2022.

We are Family by LeBron James and Andrea Williams  Case File: Little Claws by Eliot Schrefer

Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson books, has written a modern take on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. If your child loves the Rick Riordan books, make sure you also check out the books in “Rick Riordan Presents“, a selection of books featuring other mythologies and cultures. Another good choice for mythology-lovers would be Amber & Clay by Newbery Medal winner Amy Schlitz.

Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan    The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim  Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz

Looking for something the entire family can share? Bernadette Watts just published a new collection of Christmas stories, including favorites like The Little Drummer Boy and The Snow Queen. This would be a terrific gift to give a week before Christmas; you could read a story together every night. A book of Science experiments would be another great way to spend time together as a family during the school break.

   Stories for Christmas by Bernadette Watts   Amazing Science by Good Housekeeping

Whatever you, choose, I hope you make reading a treasured part of your holiday season.

 

 

 

 

 

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Historical Series for Kids

If you have elementary age children, you probably already know about the “I Survived” series by Lauren Tarshis. These books have been tremendously popular with kids across the country. Each book is told from the perspective of a child in the middle of a disaster or major event. They’re a fun way to pick up some history while enjoying an action-packed story.

I Survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the Children's Blizzard, 1888 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the American Revolution, 1776 by Lauren Tarshis

We also have some older series in juvenile fiction that have been very popular in the past.  Books in the “Dear America” series feature girls as the main characters, while the “My Name is America” books feature boys. Christmas After All is set in Indianapolis and is also written by a Hoosier author, so it’s a great choice for our Fall Beanstack Challenge. These series were both published by Scholastic and written by some of the very best children’s authors. They are notable for the diverse ethnicities of the main characters.

I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly by Joyce Hansen  Christmas After All by Kathryn Lasky West to a Land of Plenty by Jim Murphy So Far From Home by Barry Denenberg

The Journal of Ben Uchida by Barry Denenberg The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung by Laurence Yep The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins by Walter Dean Myers The Journal of Joshua Loper by Walter Dean Myers

The Royal Diary series is all girls; nothing here but queens and princesses. The best thing about this series is that it takes you around the world; it’s not just focused on European royalty.

Marie Antoinette, Princess of Versailles by Kathryn Lasky Kaiulani: The People's Princess by Ellen Emerson White Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile by Kristiana Gregory Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess by Carolyn Meyer

All of these books will enrich your child’s knowledge of the world and give them hours of great reading! Series are actually terrific choices for kids. The standard format of many series makes it easier to get immersed in the story, especially for struggling readers. These books may also start an interest in a person or event that can followed up with some non-fiction reading.

New Chapter Books by Best-Selling Authors

Adults who love to read are very good at keeping up with the “book news” and knowing when a new book by a favorite author is being published. We often start placing people on the Hold list months before a publication date. Kids are not always as good at letting us know about upcoming books. Here are some of the new books by some very popular authors of chapter books. We try hard to follow the series, but we sometimes miss one, so don’t be shy about letting us know if we need to order something by your favorite writer.

Chris Colfer is the author of the best-selling series Land of Stories. He’s currently on book # 3 of  the Tale of Magic series, also set in the Land of Stories universe. In addition, he had a graphic novel come out at the end of June that tells the origin story of Goldilocks.

A Tale of Sorcery by Chris Colfer 

Kate Dicamillo is a two-time Newbery Medal winner and a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Her latest book surprisingly has a medieval setting and features a goat! The Beatryce Prophecy is also illustrated by Caldecott winner Sophie Blackall. You’ll recognize Brian Selznick as the author of The Invention of Hugh Cabret (also a great movie) and Wonderstruck. Kaleidoscope is probably best for older kids as the collection of related short stories is described as drifting through genres, time, and even space (Booklist).

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo Kaleidoscope by Brian Selznick

Gordon Korman is the author of over 80 books for children and teens. Linked tackles the subject of prejudice when a swastika is painted on a school wall. Jerry Spinelli is another perennial favorite. On Dead Wednesday, every eighth grader in Amber Springs is assigned the name and identity of a teenager who died a preventable death in the past year. The kids don black shirts and for the whole day everyone in town pretends they’re invisible–as if they weren’t even there. The adults think it will make them contemplate their mortality. The kids know it’s a free pass to get away with anything.

Linked by Gordon Korman Dead Wednesday by Jerry Spinelli

Who are your favorite children’s authors? Let us know what book you are eagerly anticipating!

It’s Unmentionable, But It’ll Make You Giggle!

Maybe we can blame it all on Captain Underpants, but the latest trend in books for kids seems to be UNDERWEAR! And nothing is more sure to make a group of kids giggle than just saying that word. Here are some of the newest picture books from the “undies” category.

Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds

 

 

This book by Aaron Reynolds is probably my favorite. It’s perfect for the 4-7 year old crowd, and if you enjoy it, be sure to also check out his book Creepy Carrots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman

 

 

 

Who doesn’t adore a dragon book? The underwear is just icing on the cake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster's New Undies by Tad Carpenter

 

 

Monster searches for a perfect replacement pair of underpants in this book by Tad Carpenter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something's Wrong by Jory John

 

 

Everyone has an occasional day when things just feel off. Could it be because you’re just wearing your underwear?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those Are Not My Underpants by Melissa Martin

 

 

Someone has left their underwear hanging near Bear Cub’s house? Which animal will claim the tighty whities?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughing has been proven to be good for your health, so don’t delay! Go find some kids to share these books with.

Thanks for Sharing Your Talent!

Collage of Children's Books

Already in 2021, the world of children’s book publishing has lost some iconic authors and illustrators. Through the stories they wrote and the illustrations they created, our lives have been enriched beyond measure. Here’s a short statement about each of these imaginative people and some book covers to illustrate their work.

Eric Carle: Both an author and an illustrator, his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold more than 50 million copies in 66 languages. His illustrations were primarily collage, featuring hand-painted papers. He also founded the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to ensure that picture-book illustrations, as an art form, would be celebrated around the world.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Beverly Cleary: Millions of kids have romped through the pages of Cleary’s books with Henry, Beezus, and Ramona. Cleary drew the inspiration for her chapters books from the kids in her neighborhood and the kids she served during her years as a librarian.

Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

Floyd Cooper: Cooper illustrated for some of the best-known children’s authors including Nikki Grimes, Walter Myers, and Carole Boston Weatherford, mostly in books that portrayed the African-American experience. His distinctive painting style created luminous illustrations in earthy tones as he helped to bridge the racial gap in children’s literature.

The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas and Floyd Cooper Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds and Floyd Cooper

  • Lois Ehlert: Author and illustrator, Ehlert was inspired by the beauty of the natural world. Her artwork featured brightly colored snips of paper as well as “found” objects such as buttons or feathers. She related how her parents encouraged her to be creative in her autobiographical picture book The Scraps Book. Her  book Rrralph is not her most beautiful, but it always makes me laugh! Some of Ehlert’s artwork reminds me of the work of Cincinnati graphic artist Charley Harper.

Pie in the Sky by Lois Ehlert Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Patricia Giff: Giff was a long-time favorite with children making the leap to chapter books. She also won critical acclaim with her historical fiction for older children.

Zebra at the Zoo by Patricia Giff Water Street by Patricia Giff Lily's Crossing by Patricia Giff

Norton Juster: Please don’t ask “Who is Norton Juster?” His book The Phantom Tollbooth has been a favorite of elementary students and teachers for many years. Filled with puns and other wordplay, it’s been compared to a modern Alice in Wonderland. Juster’s picture book The Hello, Goodbye Window earned a Caldecott Medal for illustrator Chris Raschka.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster

Kathleen Krull: Krull was the queen of the juvenile biography. I liked to select books for the library by Krull, because I always knew they would be accurate and highly readable. Her books cover people from a wide span of history and popular culture.

Charles Darwin by Kathleen Krull No Truth Without Ruth by Kathleen Krull  The Brothers Kennedy by Kathleen Krull

Ted Lewin: Both an author and an illustrator, Lewin paid for his art studies at the Pratt Institute with a side gig as a professional wrestler. Ted and his wife Betsy Lewin, also an illustrator, took much of their inspiration from their travels to exotic locations. When writing this blog, I was surprised to find that Ted Lewin did the illustrations for The Island of the Blue Dolphins, work reminiscent of the book illustrations of N.C. Wyeth.

Look! by Ted Lewin Horse Song by Ted and Betsy Lewin Balarama by Ted and Betsy Lewin

Ann Rinaldi: Rinaldi is well-known for her historical fiction written for upper elementary school students. Although she didn’t publish any new books in the last years of her life, she remained popular with students. In addition to many stand-alone titles, she also contributed two books to the Dear America series.

The Second Bend in the River by Ann Rinaldi The Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi

It’s never too late to discover these fantastic authors and illustrators!

Animals by Steve Jenkins

I can tell you exactly why I love reading children’s books about animals. During my childhood, my home-town library had a summer reading program where you could read any kind of book and THEN there was a Smokey the Bear program where you needed to read books about animals. My sister just tolerated the nature books, but I loved them. Thank you, St. Simons Public Library!

I think one of the best author/illustrators of animal books for children is Steve Jenkins. His primary medium is cut paper, and he has illustrated his own books, he’s written and illustrated with his wife Robin Page, and he’s illustrated books for other authors like April Pulley Sayre. Jenkins’ books typically focus on one aspect of the animal world, such as relationships, habitats, camouflage, etc. You are guaranteed to learn something amazing with each of his books!

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins Animals in Flight How to Clean a Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins Sisters & Brothers by Steve Jenkins

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins  Living Color by Steve Jenkins

Look Again by Steve Jenkins How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? by Steve Jenkins Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails by Steve Jenkins

A Boy and His Skunk

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

 

 

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises — some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

 

 

 

After reading A Boy Called Bat, you’ll want to dive right into the next two books in the series.

Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana K. Arnold    Bat and the End of Everything by Elana K. Arnold

For more “unusual pet” stories, give these books a try! Rascal and The Tarantula in My Purse are juvenile biographies (J 912), and Flora & Ulysses and Pax are juvenile novels found in the juvenile fiction of the library.

Rascal by Sterling North The Tarantula in My Purse by Jean Craighead George Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Tales of Tigers

To help celebrate our Summer Reading theme Tails and Tales, I want to highlight some of my very favorite tiger picture books. If you don’t currently have a favorite tiger picture book, please check these out! They are all special to me, although for different reasons. I fell in love with Mr. Tiger Goes Wild at first because of the illustrations, inspired in part by A Child’s Garden of Verses (the 1951 version illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen). I also came to love the way Mr. Tiger needs his little escape into the wilderness, but still comes to realize the importance of coming home. Besides all that, I think Peter Brown is a picture book genius. If you don’t believe me, just check out Creepy Pair of Underwear.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown  Tiger in My Soup by Kashmira Sheth

Tiger in My Soup, written by Kashmira Sheth and illustrated by Cincinnati artist Jeffrey Ebbler, is the story of a young boy who desperately wants his sister to read him a story. Does he imagine the tiger, or is it real?

For every child who has wanted to wander outside at night, just imagine the wonder of coming across a dancing tiger! The Dancing Tiger by Malachy Doyle is perfect for any child who loves the idea of a secret friend. I hope you’re familiar with the picture books by Jan Brett. She often retells traditional folktales and her artwork is always stunning. Look for the side panels in The Tale of the Tiger Slippers to get a hint about what’s coming on the next pages.

The Dancing Tiger by Malachy Doyle The Tale of the Tiger Slippers by Jan Brett

 

Rick Riordan Presents – An Update

I first wrote about the book imprint “Rick Riordan Presents” back in 2019. Since then, the publisher has continued to roll out a great collection of books for a middle school audience based on based on world mythologies that have not been fully represented in children’s literature. These books will appeal to the same kids who devoured the Percy Jackson series, but with a wider geographical reach. Here’s what Rick Riordan had to say about the publishing venture:

“Our goal is to publish great middle grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage. Over the years, I’ve gotten many questions from my fans about whether I might write about various world mythologies, but in most cases I knew I wasn’t the best person to write those books. Much better, I thought, to use my experience and my platform at Disney to put the spotlight on other great writers who are actually from those cultures and know the mythologies better than I do. Let them tell their own stories, and I would do whatever I could to help those books find a wide audience!”

Here’s the Rick Riordan Presents list, so far:

By Roshani Chokshi (Hindu mythology): Book 4 is coming in April of 2021.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

By J.C. Cervantes (Mayan mythology)

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes The Fire Keeper by J. C. Cervantes The Shadow Crosser by J. C. Cervantes

By Yoon Ha Lee ( a stand-alone with ties to Korean mythology)

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

By Carlos Hernandez (Science-fiction with ties to Cuban mythology)

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez Sal & Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

By Kwame Mbalia (African American folk heroes and West African gods)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia Tristan Strong Destroys the World by Kwame Mbalia

By Rebecca Roanhorse (Navajo mythology)

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

By Tehlor Kay Mejia (based on the Mexican legend of the Crying Woman)

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

By Sarwat Chadda ( based on Mesopotamian mythology)

City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda

By Gracie Kim ( based on Korean mythology and coming in May 2021)

Children’s Book Awards 2021

Every winter, the library and publishing worlds eagerly anticipate the announcement of the Youth Media Awards. For publishers, it’s a chance to celebrate the critical success of their books. For authors and illustrators, the awards represent the the highest honors in children’s literature and virtually guarantee the books will be in publication for many, many years. For librarians, it’s just one more reason to share the “best of the best” with library patrons. Here are the 2021 winners of the Randolph Caldecott Medal, the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.

We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

 

 

The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The 2021 medal winner, We Are Water Protectors, was illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom. The book was inspired by indigenous-led movements which have sounded an alarm about the need to protect our nation’s waters.

 

 

 

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

 

 

In contrast to the Caldecott, the John Newbery Medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished American book for children. It typically, though not aways, goes to the author of a chapter book. If you love books based on folklore, you need to read When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller! Here’s teaser from the publisher’s description, “Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.

 

 

 

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

 

The winner of the 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Award is Jacqueline Woodson for her book Before the Ever After. This novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when the father’s glory days as a professional football player have passed and he experiences the long-term physical effects of his career. Woodson has won numerous book awards including the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award and the 2014 National Book Award for her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. She was the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

The Coretta Scott King Book Committee also awards an annual illustrator award and an award for “New Talent.”

 

 

You can view the full list of Youth Media Awards here, including the Michael L. Printz Award for Young Adult Literature, the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for beginning readers, and the Schneider Family Book Award which honors authors and illustrators who present an artistic expression of a disability experience.