Every year since 1950, a select group of books wins the National Book Award. This prestigious award is given to the best books of the year in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s literature categories. This year’s nominees for the awards have been announced, with five potential winners in each category. In the children’s literature category, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground was one of the nominees. Clayton Byrd was written by Rita Williams-Garcia and the cover was illustrated by Frank Morrison. This bittersweet book for young readers tells the story of a boy’s attempts to cope with the loss of his grandfather through music. Congratulations to Rita and Frank for their nomination! The full list of nominees for the National Book Award can be found here. Clayton Byrd Goes Underground is available for purchase here.
Despite some unseasonable heat, fall has officially come, and with it, a fresh crop of fall and Halloween themed picture books! The New York Times Book Review wrote a review of some of these autumnal new books in a section called “Frightfully Good.” Included in their review was Wee Sister Strange, written by Holly Grant and illustrated by K.G. Campbell – and the Times couldn’t say enough about how much they loved it! Wee Sister Strange is a spooky fairy tale-esque story of a mysterious girl wandering through the woods at night, looking for something. The Times called it a wonderful autumn and Halloween tale, describing the titular character as, “an autumnal creature,” and saying the story, “will merit repeat Halloween readings.” They praise Holly Grant’s evocative verse and imagery. K.G.’s illustrations, they write, “are both gorgeous and mysterious…he saves his best for first: the book’s initial spreads…are masterpieces.” The Times concludes simply, “I love ‘Wee Sister Strange.'” Wow! The full review of Wee Sister Strange is available in the Sunday, October 8th issue of the New York Times Book Review. Wee Sister Strange is available for purchase here.
Released yesterday, A Night Out with Mama is the new picture book from Academy Award nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis and illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton. This stylish story tells of the night of the Academy Awards themselves and Wallis’s excitement over dressing up beautifully and going out with her mother. Kirkus recently reviewed this charming new book and gave it a starred review. Kirkus praises the exciting and unique true story. As they observe, few actresses of color, let alone ones under ten, have the chance to experience and tell a story like this! Kirkus also praises Vanessa’s illustrations, writing, “Expressively illustrated with Brantley-Newton’s characteristically upbeat illustrations, the book exudes positivity.” Kirkus’s full starred review is available here. A Night Out with Mama is now available for purchase and can be ordered online here.
The long-awaited new project from Kate DiCamillo and Jaime Kim is finally here! La La La: A Story of Hope is available for purchase today. La La La is an innovative, new picture book that is almost completely wordless. Illustrated by Jaime’s trademark beautiful art, it tells the story of a little girl attempting to communicate with the moon. La La La was released today and can be ordered online here.
Reading nonfiction is an important part of any child’s elementary education. But kids don’t just like reading the popular genre of narrative nonfiction, in which true information is presented in the format of a story. Children also enjoy expository nonfiction, which are books that lay out the facts in a clear and easy-to-understand way. In order to highlight the importance of expository nonfiction, as well as present some excellent examples of the genre, guest blogger Melissa Stewart wrote a great post at the School Library Journal (SLJ) on expository nonfiction. One of her featured examples was Lincoln and Kennedy: A Pair to Compare, by Gene Barretta! Lincoln and Kennedy is an expository nonfiction book that compares and contrasts the lives of those two great presidents. Stewart praised it as a great example of using an engaging text structure. Each spread puts Lincoln and Kennedy side by side, and, as Stewart writes, “As a result, readers notice fun patterns as well as startling similarities between the two men’s lives.” Expository nonfiction books can be just as fun and exciting as fiction or as narrative nonfiction. Melissa Stewart’s full blog post is available here. Lincoln and Kennedy is available for purchase here.
Wee Sister Strange was only released a few days ago, but it’s already bringing in positive reviews! This beautiful new picture book is written by Holly Grant and illustrated by K.G. Campbell. It tells the story of a nymph-like girl wandering through the woods after dark, looking for a special something. BookPage included this lovely new tale in their article, “Majestic Moon: New Picture Books Celebrate Earth’s Satellite.” This quick list rounds up some of the new picture books featuring the moon, including Wee Sister Strange. They call Wee Sister Strange, a “captivating story,” and praise the poetic language, particularly that surrounding the moon! They write of the illustrations, “Artist K.G. Campbell’s marvelous illustrations transport the reader to an intriguing otherworld.” In all, they conclude that Wee Sister Strange, “has all the makings of a classic.” To read BookPage’s full article, follow this link. Wee Sister Strange was released September 19th and is available online here.