Welcome to our newest reviewer, Abigail Constance Richter, a New York third grader excited to share great new children’s books with you. This first review was inspired by the brave and selfless hurricane relief efforts in Texas and Florida, reminding us that anyone can lend a helping hand.
Bulldozer Helps Out, by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 3-6.
In Bulldozer Helps Out, Bulldozer wants to help the rest of the construction team, but the other machines say he is not big enough, strong enough, or tough enough. Soon, they feel bad and give Bulldozer an “easy” task. The full-page pictures in the book are big, bold, and colorful, and make the book a good choice for preschoolers and kids in kindergarten who love construction and want to be part of the team.
‘Tis the season for award ceremonies, and on Monday the American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books for children and young adults at its Midwinter Meeting, held this year in Atlanta, Georgia. We reported on Tuesday that Kelly Barnhill took top honors with the Newbery; read who else was recognized for their contributions to children’s literature over on the Fine Books Blog.
The Grasshopper and the Ants, by Jerry Pinkney; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $18.00, 40 pages, ages 2-6.
Aesop’s fable The Grasshopper and the Ants receives the Pinkney treatment in this gorgeous version of the tale. A plucky grasshopper merrily sings his way through the warm months, while industrious ants toil in preparation for lean times ahead. Here, the artist masterfully employs his usual arsenal of pencil, watercolors and ink to wondrous effect. A double-page spread in the middle of the book actually opens to a triad, where the grasshopper sits in the snow above ground while the ants below are warm and toasty. Unlike some versions of the fable, the grasshopper isn’t left to freeze, but is invited to share his gift of song with the ants, subtly suggesting that everyone has a talent and can be helpful.
Simple, lyrical rhymes bounce along the pages, and serve as a vehicle to invite young readers to explore every nook and cranny in this richly imagined world of tiny creatures. Informative notes detail how nature has always informed the artist’s work and the joy he derives in illustrating the world outside his window. That enthusiasm is readily apparent in every book Pinkey creates, and that spirit reaches out from the pages, beckoning young readers to share in the pleasures of nature by reading beautiful books.
What else is there to say about Jerry Pinkney and his work that hasn’t already been said? He enjoys the distinction among his peers as being the recipient of five Caldecott Honors as well as the winner of the Caldecott Medal in 2010 for the second fable in his Aesop trilogy, The Lion and The Mouse. (I would argue that The Grasshopper and The Ants is a contender for the award in 2015.) In addition, the artist is a five-time recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award and has been nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award.
As the moral of this fable implores, don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today – share this book with little readers now.
The American Library Association announced the winners of the 2014 Newbery and Caldecott medals on Monday.A panel of fifteen librarians from across the country gathered to honor the very best children’s books. What distinguishes the two awards? The Newbery Medal goes to the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” The Caldecott recognizes an artist’s excellence in picture book illustration. Here they are:
“Flora and Ulysses: The Illustrated Series,”by Kate DeCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell; Candlewick Press, $17.99, 240 pages, ages 9-12.
In this adorable ode to superheroes, comic-book aficionado Flora sets on a series of adventures with a witty squirrel appropriately named Ulysses. DeCamillo’s humor (and wonderfully rich vocabulary) is perfectly matched by comic book artist’s K.G. Campbell’s black and white illustrations.Readers will adore that this quirky action-packed novel matches a sensitive, sophisticated story.
“Doll Bones,” by Holly Black; Margaret K. McElderry Books, $16.99, 256 pages, ages 10-14.
“The Year of Billy Miller,” by Kevin Henkes; Greenwillow Books, $16.99, 240 pages, ages 8-13.
“One Came Home,” by Amy Timberlake; Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99, 272 pages, ages 9-13.
“Locomotive,” by Brian Floca; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 64 pages, ages 4-10.
This year’s Caldecott winner is a picture book rich with sensory details about America’s first trans-continental railroad.The rolling text mimics the turning of the wheels and the rumbling of the train down the track.Sumptuous images will easily captivate young readers, despite the book’s length.