Berger, Caitlin. (2010). Forever Friends . New York, NY: Greenwillow Books. A blue bird and a bunny form a fast friendship. Over the course of the year, they enjoy spending time together, until the fall, when blue bird must fly south for the winter. Bunny waits for the return of his friend and blue bird finds their separation just as difficult. In the spring, they are joyfully reunited, with another pleasant year ahead of them. Berger’s collage technique uses sharp, precisely cut, paper with found media to strong effect. Short declarative sentences, paired with several pages of wordless frolicking make this book a natural for very young audiences, although the classic theme of friendship despite their obvious differences makes this book valuable for all ages.
Bridges, Shirin, illustrated by Yoo, Taeeun. (2008). The Umbrella Queen. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books. A young girl in a small village in Thailand marches to the beat of her own drummer, and stays true to her vision. While it's traditional to paint flowers on umbrellas, instead Noot sees elephants -- beautiful elephants! -- marching across her delicately painted umbrellas. When the emperor comes to visit (riding an elephant), he's intrigued by Noot's tiny umbrellas that he spies in a window and declares Noot as that year's Umbrella Queen because she paints from the heart.
Brown, Peter. (2009). The Curious Garden . New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. In Peter Brown’s book, The Curious Garden , the character Liam discovers a struggling garden in the midst of the dreary, gray city where he lives. As his small portion of the garden grows he sneaks his new plant life into other parts of the city. Brown’s vibrant, unique illustrations grow more and more delightful as the garden blooms and spreads throughout the city. We chose this book because of the environmental theme and the message of how one boy can make a greener world, one bit at a time.
Catalanotto, Peter. (2007). Ivan the Terrier . New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Ivan is a high spirited Jack Russell terrier that creates mayhem in the fairy tale world as the narrator tries to tell bedtime stories. This attention seeking, adorable brown and white puppy chases away the three billy goats gruff before he moves on to disrupt the lives of the three bears, gingerbread man, and the three little pigs. Ivan finds his way into each of the stories and finds creative ways in which to cause quite a disruption. Disregarding the narrator’s many reprimands, nothing will satisfy Ivan, until at last, the narrator gives up and in one final effort begins, &quot;There once was a little dog named Ivan.&quot; However, this mischievous terrier is nowhere to be found! Catalanotta’s watercolor and bold paintings add to the humor of the story. Readers will relish the pandemonium that this puppy creates especially when he barks at all the fairy tale characters that he managed to chase away from the story.This picture book has the makings of a favorite storytime selection leaving children begging for more Ivan mischief!
Chocolate, Debbi, illustrated by Diaz, David. (2009). El Barrio . New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company. A young boy proudly shows off his barrio, where the preparations for the celebration of his beloved older sister’s quincenera are well underway. &quot;This is el barrio !/My home in the city/with its rain-washed murals/and sparkling graffiti.&quot; Diaz’s trademark illustration style with bold black outlines and luminous color uses woodcuts, painting and collage to capture the feeling of stained glass windows. Whether this neighborhood is as familiar as home to you, or an exciting, vibrant place to visit, Chocolate’s words convey a strong sense of the community of &quot;Aztec eyes and Mayan faces&quot; in el barrio.
Dillon, Diane & Leo. (2007). Jazz on a Saturday Night . New York, NY: Blue Sky Press. In this rhyming and poetic text, both language and illustration unite to evoke the sound and spirit of jazz. This text is an excellent introduction to both the instruments key to this genre and to the genre’s well-known pioneers. A short history of jazz, a teaching CD, and a biographical account on the musicians mentioned in the text is included making this book a great reference source as well as a pleasurable and artistic read.
Engle, Margarita, illustrated by Paschkis, Julie. (2010). Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian . New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company. An inspiring story about a young female scientist, Maria Sibylla Merian, who in the 1600’s overturned years of medieval thought about the origin of butterflies, then known as ‘summer birds.’ Through simple observation she discovered the process of metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. Beautiful painted illustrations inspired by medieval woodcuts in bright, rich colors are paired with an appealing, easy to understand text. &quot;Today as a result of [her] careful studies, we know that butterflies, moths and frogs do not spring from mud. We also know that they are not evil, but natural and amazing.&quot;
Johnson, Angela, illustrated by Lewis, E.B. (2007). Lily Brown’s Paintings . Chicago, IL: Orchard Books. Lily Brown is an artist who sees magic and adventure in all the places and things around her, the trees she passes on the way to school wear hats and drink tea. E.B. Lewis expertly combines the expressive watercolor illustrations with Lily’s childlike, whimsical paintings. We chose this book because Lily Brown’s delightful spirit and ability to find joy, wonder and magic in the world around her makes her a character children will love.
Jeffers, Oliver. (2007). The Incredible Book-eating Boy . New York, NY: Philomel Books. In this uniquely illustrated, mixed media book, Henry devours book after book in his efforts to gain more knowledge. Soon, Henry becomes ill with indigestion. When he is ordered to stop ingesting books, Henry realizes just how enjoyable the act of reading can be. He begins to read books in order to increase his knowledge rather than to simply satisfy his appetite. Overall, this is a light hearted text with the potential to engage a variety of audiences and further prove that knowledge is not easily obtained.
Joy, N., illustrated by Devard, Nancy. (2007). The Secret Olivia Told Me . East Orange, NJ: Just Us Books, Inc. A big, juicy secret...In this highly relatable text, Olivia tells her best friend a secret, a, big, juicy secret. It’s not long before everyone on the playground knows Olivia’s secret. Children and adults alike can relate to Olivia’s experience as it addresses a universal message about secrets and rumors and how they spread like wild fire. At the same time, this text is quite unique as each illustration is done in silhouette and possesses a contrasting red balloon in its background. As the story progresses and as the secret is spread, the balloon increases in size creating a nice visual representation of the story’s theme.
Khan, Rukhsana, illustrated by Blackall, Sophie. (2010). Big Red Lollipop . New York, NY: Viking Juvenile. In this sibling rivalry story, Rubina is invited to a friend’s birthday party. Unaware of the social consequences, the mother in this story forces Rubina to take her younger sister to the party. Despite suffering embarrassment, Rubina forgives her mother and her annoying, little sister and prevents a similar episode from happening to Sani. This book holds many universal themes dealing with family relations, such as annoying and bratty younger sisters, as it also highlights the difficulties of assimilation that some children in immigrant families experience in their lives.
Lichtenheld, Tom. (2010). Bridget’s Beret . New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company. If you’ve ever had a lucky charm, a good luck piece or favorite hat that you felt gave you the confidence you need to be successful, then you will understand Bridget’s attachment to her French beret in Tom Lichtenheld’s new picture book, Bridget’s Beret . Bridget is an artist, and everyone in her family and neighborhood enjoys her talent. When she is drawing, she is truly focused, why she won’t even stop for an ice cream cone! While she spends many hours in her creative endeavors, she believes that must have on her beautiful French beret in order to successful. Unfortunately one afternoon, a gust of wind comes along and sweeps Bridget’s beret out of sight. She eventually tries other hats, but none will work for her and she stops drawing. Tom Lichtenheld’s artwork is colorful and appealing. There are references throughout the story to several world renowned artists.
Maclear, Kyo, illustrated by Arsenault, Isabelle. (2010). Spork . New York, NY: Kids Can Press. In her first children’s picture book, Kyo Maclear introduces us to the character of Spork. Spork is neither a spoon or fork, but a mixture of both! Spork is round like a spoon with folk like tines. He makes efforts to fit in with the spoon and folks, but he is rejected since he isn’t exactly like either of these! Spork, being the product of a mixed marriage, always feels left out at dinnertime. Spork becomes discouraged and weary of being asked, “What are you anyway?” Just when Spork seems destined to spend his life inside the kitchen drawer, along comes the “messy thing” that does not seem to care about cutlery customs.Spork finally finds his the place where he belongs. This lighthearted story is a perfect tale for all those who have ever felt like a misfit or wondered about their place in the world.
Noll, Amanda, illustrated by McWilliam, Howard. (2009). I Need My Monster . New York, NY: Flashlight Press. One night, when Ethan checks under his bed for his monster, Gabe, he finds a note from him instead: &quot;Gone fishing. Back in a week.&quot; Ethan knows that without Gabe’s familiar nightly scares he doesn't stand a chance of getting to sleep, so Ethan interviews potential substitute monsters to see if they are scary enough for the job. Do they have pointy teeth, sharp claws, and a long tail? Are they scary enough to keep Ethan in his bed? None of the monsters have what it takes, and Ethan is left all alone in his bed wondering if maybe he has been too picky in trying to find just the right substitute monster. McWilliam’s colorful, exaggerated artwork of all types of substitute monsters will keep readers actively engaged. This story is perfect for children who would enjoy a delightful scare!
Pinkney, Andrea, illustrated by Pinkney, Brian. (2009). Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride . New York, NY: Hyperion Books. This book is everything one could hope for in a picture book biography, distilling the life of the subject into a few passages of beautifully sweet, lyrical prose celebration. Helpfully appended with additional biographical information, photographs and a bibliography this book features warmly hued watercolor and charcoal illustrations masterfully paired with informative and rhythmic text. A triumph. &quot;Big. Black. Beautiful. True./That was Sojourner... Down came Sojourner’s hand, an iron fist, smashing the lies of the day.&quot; An inspiring look at a famed American abolitionist.
Pennypacker, Sara, illustrated by Tanaka, Yoko. (2009). Sparrow Girl . New York, NY: Hyperion Books. In this somber, yet inspiring, historical fiction piece, Pennypacker sheds light upon Mao Tse Tung’s Great Sparrow War of 1958 in China. Ming Li, the strong, female protagonist portrayed in this text defies the Chairman’s orders to exhaust the birds, manages to save a few sparrows from their unfortunate demise, and brings hope to her village. Ming Li’s empathetic actions illustrate the importance of independent thought and compassion. This is definitely a stretch book for younger readers, but it has the potential to act as an excellent entry into the seldom told accounts of our history.
Recorvits, Helen, illustrated by Swiatkowska, Gabi. (2008). Yoon and the Jade Bracelet . New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Many of us are familiar with Helen Recorvits’ first book about Yoon when she first attends school in America. In Yoon and the Jade Bracelet, Yoon is celebrating her first birthday since coming to America and her mother gives her a special jade bracelet that has been passed down from mother to daughter for many years. In the course of the story, Yoon, who is still the new girl and wants to join in with the other children in games, lets an older classmate wear the bracelet in exchange for friendship.
Scanlon, Liz Garton, illustrated by Frazee, Maria. (2009). All the World . New York, NY: Beach Lane Books. I find it hard to describe the experience of this book without reading it to you. The simple, yet poetic text is perfectly combined with the pencil and watercolor illustrations. With each page we experience another element of the world around us. There is much to be discovered through careful observations of the pictures combined with interpretations of the text. We chose this book because the lyrical text makes a lovely read aloud. The rhyming pattern is specifically nice for younger ages, but we think the appeal is widespread and the message: “All the world is all of us” is universal.
Stein, David Ezra. (2010). Interrupting Chicken . Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press. Anyone who has silently, or loudly, willed a favorite character not to do the stupid thing you just they are about to do in story will appreciate Chicken in this book, Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. Chicken simply can’t let Hansel, Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and Chicken Little make the mistakes that she knows will lead to trouble in her favorite stories. We chose this book because of the unique use of three classic folk tales, but most of all we liked the way Chicken gets so wrapped up in the stories that she literally jumps into the page shouting advice at the characters. This book is yet another creative spin on classic folk literature that we think children will enjoy.
Yolen, Jane, illustrated by Burke, Jim. (2008). Naming Liberty . New York, NY: Philomel Books. Acclaimed veteran author, Jane Yolen, recounts the story of a Russian family, who emigrates to America in the late 1800s along with the story of French artist Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's creation of the Statue of Liberty. The Russian family dreams of a safer life in America. An older brother has been sent ahead of the family to begin to work and prepare for the family to follow. The young Russian girl spends a lot of time wondering what will her new name be once she finally arrives in America. After a difficult trip by train and boat to the New York Harbor, the family sees the recently completed Lady Liberty, which Bartholdi envisioned, promoted, and built over the course of 21 years as a monument to America’s freedom. Upon seeing the magnificient Statue of Liberty, the young girl knows just what her new American name will be. Jim Burke's oil paintings successfully highlight the feel of nineteenth-century Europe and New York. Yolen’s author’s note at the end separates the fiction from fact and provides additional resources for introducing the concepts of immigration and liberty to young audiences.
Picture Storybook Award (Grades K-4) Georgia Children’s Book Awards Previews & Reviews 2011-2012 Dr. Joel Taxel, Chair
Picture Storybook Award (Grades K-4) Jennifer Alden Amanda Johnson Lindsey Hall Madigan McGillicuddy Jenna L. Nixon 2011-2012 Georgia Children’s Picture Storybook Committee Members