Archive for the ‘Caldecott Books’ Category

The devastation of Harvey is overwhelmingly present both for those on site and those helplessly watching from afar.

That’s not the only bad news that might be greying your spirit these days. Here’s a brief selection of some of my favorite books that swell our hearts with hope.

Each is linked to my original review.

Spirit of Hope

When a young family is forced out of their home, another most surprising place becomes available.

A Chair for My Mother

The classic story of a terrible house fire and the pluck, love, and community that bring about restoration.

Boxes for Katje

An American girl rallies her friends to ship boxes of needed supplies to a devastated community in post-war Holland.

My Heart Will Not Sit Down

A Cameroonian girl hears of the Great Depression in America and raises money to send from her impoverished community.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

One gentle zookeeper falls ill and the dear animals he’s cared for so well return the favor. 

The Friend

An African-American maid acts as true companion, dear friend, and life saver to her small white charge.

The Promise

A broken city and broken soul are transformed by beauty.

The Family Under the Bridge

One of my all-time favorite chapter books, about a homeless young family, a homeless old man, and the power of love.


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Last month I posted a number of enticing books covering art history and appreciation for children. Those were broad titles, whetting our appetites for art and introducing the expanse of art- making around the world and through time.

Today I’ve got a few biographies that zoom in on just one artist, each one a work of art in itself.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
published in 2016 by Little, Brown and Company

Winner of the 2017 Caldecott Medal, this is a fresh, urban, vigorous look at the life and art of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Steptoe’s innovative illustration work, painted on rough, textured pieces of found wood scavenged from around New York City, sizzles with color, strength, and a contemporary, diverse world. His unconventional approach aptly conveys the ethos of Basquiat.

At the same time, Steptoe’s straightforward text narrates the tempests of Basquiat’s life and the powerful hunger he had to voice through his art what was in his soul — urgent, messy, painful, important ideas that required jarringly new forms, lines, and approaches.

Steptoe communicates all of this with enough subtlety to make it accessible to young elementary children, concluding his brief bio with Steptoe victorious. In his excellent back-matter, he provides more detail about the difficulties of Steptoe’s life including his death due to drug addiction at the age of 27. For many children, this artist’s life and work will reflect their reality with incisive clarity. For others, this keen book offers an essential bridge into the experience of many fellow travelers.

Mr. Matisse and his Cutouts, written and illustrated by Annemarie van Haeringen, translated from the Dutch by Jan Michael
first published in Holland in 2015; English edition published in 2016 by NorthSouth Books

Matisse is a marvelous artist for young children to enjoy with his eye-popping colors and his can-do attitude that led him to one extraordinary artistic discovery.

This brief bio features a zesty text with words that sparkle. Its focus is Matisse’s adaptation to his great physical limitations and the momentous new art he created.

That all those glorious cut paper works of his are in response to illness — doesn’t that make the explosive gladness of them even more stunning?

Van Haeringen’s pages zing with the color and courage of Matisse himself. It’s a grand welcome into his artwork, with a short Author’s Note to fill in more details of Matisse’s life. Ages 3 and up.

Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World, written and illustrated by Laurence Anholt
published in 2016 in the U.S. by Barron’s

Laurence Anholt has created a lovely series of artist biographies all featuring a child in the artist’s life. This one is his warm tribute to Frida Kahlo and a little girl named Mariana.

Mariana’s family were great friends of Frida’s and Kahlo painted each of their portraits. Mariana is anxious to have her portrait done as well, but everyone says she’s too young to sit still so long. Her brother takes it one step farther and tells her she’d be too scared to go to Frida’s house on account of the skeleton she keeps above her bed!

This does indeed squelch Mariana’s eagerness! When the day finally comes to go to Kahlo’s house for her portrait, Mariana is very nervous.

As the gracious Frida gets to know dear Mariana and paints her portrait, she tells her about herself, her tragic accident, and the way she started painting as a result of those lifelong injuries.

With it’s tropical-colored illustrations and brilliantly-composed narrative, this is an excellent introduction to a truly brave woman, for ages 5 and up.

Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, A Life in Nature, written by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Christy Hale
published in 2016, Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company

One of the few children’s biographies of Ansel Adams, this well-crafted book introduces children to one of the greatest photographers whose fiercely-high energy propelled him out of doors and eventually into the art of photography.

Adams was a restless, fidgety kid who would likely be on meds were he in classrooms today. Instead his father pulled him out of school and pushed him into the great outdoors. Adams thrilled to the Pacific coastal area where he lived and learned an enormous amount through all his explorations.

When he arrived at Yosemite Valley at age 14, “it was love at first sight.” The roar of water and dramatic light spilling and splaying upon the rock walls transfixed him. Ansel’s parents gave him a camera on that trip, and the rest of the story is well known!

Beautiful cut-paper illustrations bring to life the rugged, dappled, soaring, wilderness as well as the running, leaping, energy of Ansel Adams. A lengthy afterword tells much more about his life and work. Ages 4 and up.

Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing, written by Kay A. Haring, illustrated by Robert Neubecker
published in 2017 by Dial Books for Young Readers

Drop into the contemporary art world with this affectionate, spirited exploration of Keith Haring’s innovative work. I love that this is written by his sister. She brings a unique, intimate knowledge of the inner-tickings of Haring and his lifelong zeal for drawing.

What pops off the page, besides the seemingly indefatigable artist, his bottomless spring of ideas and incessant experimentation, is his generosity of spirit. Haring died as a young man, but in his brief career he exploded onto the world art scene while simultaneously keeping his bearings as a fellow human being seeking to bring healing to the world through art. 

Neubecker’s robust illustration work is the perfect match for his subject. Lengthy afterwords tell lots more about Haring and the pieces of his art appearing in the book. Ages 5 and up.

What Degas Saw, written by Samantha Friedman, illustrated by Cristina Pieropan
published in 2016 by The Museum of Modern Art

This handsome book exudes all the top production quality you’d expect from MoMA.

Gorgeous illustration work from Italian illustrator Pieropan spreads turn-of-the-century Paris before us with its cobblestones, wrought-iron tracery, horse-drawn carriages, and hustle-bustle. This is the world in which Degas lived. This is what he saw.

Samantha Friedman takes all of these sights and helps us see how they turn up in Degas’ famous paintings. A peek into the milliner’s shop metamorphoses into his At the Milliner’s.

His many visits to the Opera House of course turn into the ballerina paintings we know so well. Minimal text is needed here as the concept is so well conceived. Wondering-aloud types of questions serve to engage children even more in the paintings. It’s like an art appreciation lesson in a book, for ages 3 and up.

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Today’s Women’s History Month post highlights motherhood, one of the most challenging, exhausting, all-encompassing responsibilities on the planet, with few accolades and really lousy hours but so much possibility.

Does this qualify as false advertising?!

Often moms in children’s literature are background characters, yet even there we notice some flashes of genius. For instance, there’s Ferdinand the bull’s mother,

who initially worries about her son sitting quietly just smelling the flowers, but “because she was an understanding mother, even though she was a cow, she let him just sit there and be happy.” Way to go, mom. Individuality starts here.

I adore the moms in several of Jonathan Bean’s stories — At Night and Big Snow — who empathetically care for their children while giving them space and freedom to explore and dream and be.

One of my favorite storybook moms is Alfie’s mother, whose house is always unapologetically mussy, whose hair has not seen a salon recently, whose breakfast table is a jumble of milk splotches, egg smears, and the odd sock. Hers is a happy, creative household and she makes no pretense of keeping it all completely under control. Plus, she gets her kids out of doors a LOT!

The women in the following books (gleaned from my archives) are not famous for their accomplishments, yet live quietly heroic lives, nurturing small human beings with love, wisdom, courage, creativity, patience, cunning, fortitude, conviction, selflessness, empathy, resilience, comfort, contentment, and the list goes on.

Represented here are tired mothers, grandmothers, single moms, veiled moms, nannies, adoptive mothers, refugee mothers, harassed mothers, black, white, latino and native mothers, camping moms, berry-picking grandmas, hospitable mothers…

To all of you coping with the demands of motherhood, perhaps quailing before the superhero women featured in most Women’s History Month posts — hats off to you and the epic job you do every day!

Tromping around outdoors moms…

Alfie Weather

Oh so tired moms…

Are You Awake?

taking time to listen grandmas…

The Baby on the Way

uber clever moms…

Bread and Jam for Frances

hardworking single moms…

A Chair for My Mother

deeply religious moms…

Deep in the Sahara

profoundly there-for-you nannies…

The Friend

warmhearted grandmas…

Grandma’s House

bighearted adoptive moms…

Hattie Peck

magically creating spring moms…

How Mama Brought the Spring

incredibly brave refugee moms…

The Journey

wise in life grandmas…

Last Stop on Market Street

harassed but not quitting moms…

Leave Me Alone!

ordinarily awesome moms…

My Mom

spunky world-opening grandmas…

Nana in the City

lively ditch the rules grandmas…

Peeny Butter Fudge

carrying you with me moms…

A Ride on Mother’s Back

creative, content grandmas…

Sunday Shopping

canoeing, camping moms…

Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe

berry-picking grandmas…

Wild Berries

hospitable, merciful moms…

A Year of Borrowed Men

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I have a winner for my giveaway of Fancy Party Gowns!!


Rhapsody in Books — your name was drawn! Contact me at jillswanson61@gmail.com with your shipping address and I’ll get that beauty off to you!

Meanwhile, the biggest book awards in U.S. children’s literature were awarded this week. You can find a list of all the winners here.

I’ve reviewed a number of those that were recognized and am always happy to have my attention drawn to other titles I haven’t yet had time to read.

Here are links to the reviews you can find here at Orange Marmalade:

The most prestigious prize is the Newbery Medal and it went to a Minneapolis author this year! Woohoo! That was:

the girl who drank the moon cover image
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

One of the books that won a Newbery Honor was just recently on my blog. It well deserves this honor, and was also awarded Coretta Scott King Honors for both its text and illustrations:

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams, written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

The Caldecott is the big prize for illustration work. I have loved and previously reviewed all four of the Honor Books:


Leave Me Alone!, illustrated by written by Vera Brosgol

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Freedom in Congo Square, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. This book also won a Coretta Scott King Honor for its illustrations.


Du Iz Tak?, illustrated and written by Carson Ellis


They All Saw a Cat, illustrated and written by Brendan Wenzel

I’ve reviewed one of the Sibert Honor books thus far — a gripping account for teens through adult:

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We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Hitler, by Russell Freedman

One of the delightful Theodor Seuss Geisel awards went to:

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Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!: An Alphabet Caper, written and illustrated by Mike Twohy

I hope you’ll take the time to check these out if you missed them the first time. Every one is a gem!


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There’s been a storm of conversations recently in the children’s literature world over carefulness and truthfulness in our depictions of slavery. The good news in all of this is that we are having these conversations. This week, I’ve got seven strong choices for increasing our understanding of this painful piece of our history.

when the slave esperanca garcia wrote a letter cover imageWhen the Slave Esperança Garcia Wrote a Letter, by Sonia Rosa, illustrated by Luciana Justiniani Hees, translated from the Portuguese by Jane Springer
published in 2015 by Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press

I didn’t imagine I would find the story of an amazing, Afro-Brazilian slave woman when I went book-looking, but this moving and visually-sophisticated account fairly leapt off the shelf.

After reading this short text, I only wish I could meet this person. She was an intelligent, caring, remarkably hopeful woman whose deep sorrows and trials could not break her spirit.

when the slave esperanca garcia wrote a letter interior2 rosa and hees

Esperança Garcia lived in the Brazilian state of Piauí in the mid-1700s. For a time she was owned by Jesuit priests and worked on their cotton farm. While there, she was taught to read and write which was a rarity in Brazil just as it was in the Southern United States. When she was sold to a new, cruel master, Garcia’s situation vastly deteriorated. She found she could not be silent, and wrote an eloquent letter to the governor.

when the slave esperanca garcia wrote a letter interior rosa and hees

Read her story, written with intimacy and grace, accompanied by these extraordinary pictures. Each page is vigorous and arresting, surging with Brazilian heat and dominated by the indomitable figure of Esperança herself. Ages 5 and up.

frederick's journey cover imageFrederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass, by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by London Ladd
published in 2016 by Disney/Jump at the Sun

When you see Doreen Rappaport’s name on a book, you just settle in with confidence that a remarkable connection is about to occur between you and her subject. And that’s exactly what we get from this newest book on Frederick Douglass.

His life’s journey is traced from the time he was a tiny babe-in-arms, wrenched from his mother as she stretches a helpless arm towards him with a brokenhearted wail, to his persevering accomplishment of helping obtain the vote for black men.

frederick's journey interior rappaport and ladd

Written in lyrical free verse, and interspersed with quotes from Douglass, it’s an eloquent biography. London Ladd’s powerful paintings pour strength, dignity, and determination across every page. Included are Author and Illustrator Notes on the making of the book, a timeline, and resources for further learning. An exceptional piece, highly recommended for ages 5 and up.

two friends cover imageTwo Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
published in 2016 by Orchard Books

Frederick Douglas, amidst his great struggle for African American rights, and Susan B. Anthony, in her epic struggle for women’s rights, met for tea one evening in Susan’s parlor, in Rochester, New York.

What a meeting! What a pair of battle-weary friends. Wouldn’t you love to have been there?!

two friends interior robbins, qualls, and alko

Beautifully written in a perceptive, parallel structure, with Qualls’ and Alko’s  vibrant illustrations incorporating text and image — this book offers a unique perspective on these individuals and their friendship. Highly recommended for ages 4 and up.

freedom in congo square cover imageFreedom in Congo Square, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
published in 2016 by Little Bee Books

Congo Square, in New Orleans, was a small patch of earth known around the world because of what took place there on Sunday afternoons during the days of slavery.

Not auctions. Not whippings. Not labors of any kind. But dancing.

freedom in congo square interior weatherford and christie

Anticipate that one day of freedom, celebration, community, and the music of home, in this jubilant story. Strikingly illustrated by Christie in gorgeous, graceful, leaping line and pulsating color.

An Author’s Note tells more about this uncommon piece of American history. Ages 3 and up.

henry's freedom box cover imageHenry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
published in 2007 by Scholastic Press

Henry “Box” Brown was enslaved in Virginia. As a young boy he was sold away from his beloved family, and as a young married man with three dear-as-life-itself children, he was again left bereft, his wife and children ripped away from him in one searingly-painful blink of an eye. All. Gone.

henry's freedom box illustration kadir nelson

So, when an idea came to Henry of a way to escape to the north, to freedom from the unspeakable griefs of slavery, what did he really have to lose? 

henry's freedom box illustration2 kadir nelson

His method: shipping himself in a wooden crate 350 miles to Philadelphia. Henry’s story is at once heartbreaking and triumphant. The magnificent illustrations of Kadir Nelson very deservedly won him a Caldecott Honor. Don’t miss this one, for ages 4 or 5 and up. A short Author’s Note adds a few more details to Henry’s story.

freedom river cover imageFreedom River, by Doreen Rappaport, pictures by Bryan Collier
published in 2000 by Jump at the Sun, Hyperion Books for Children

In this riveting story, you’ll meet an almost unbelievably brave named John Parker. And I don’t think you’ll ever be able to forget him.

He lived in Ripley, Ohio, just across the river from the slave state of Kentucky. John had been born a slave, earned enough money to buy his freedom, and become a successful businessman. That’s the short version, skipping over a whale of a lot of misery, clamor, and initiative which you can learn in the book’s Historical Note.

freedom river illustration bryan collier

But John wasn’t content with only freedom and comfort for himself. Instead he became one of the most active, bold conductors on the Underground Railroad. This book tells of his relentless pursuit of one young family and how he risked his life again and again to usher them to freedom. Incredible. 

One of the things I love about Bryan Collier is that in his Illustrator Notes he shares rich insights about how and why he pieces together the elements of his commanding, award-winning collages. Don’t miss reading these Notes! You and your kids will learn a lot about the subject, and become more art-literate at the same time. Ages 4 and up.

night boat to freedom cover imageNight Boat to Freedom, by Margot Theis Raven, pictures by E.B. Lewis
published in 2006 by Melanie Kroupa Books, Farrar Straus and Giroux

Here’s another story of a young man risking all to bring slaves across the river from Kentucky to Ohio. It is inspired by accounts taken down by WPA writers who compiled slave narratives during the 30s.

night boat to freedom illustration e.b. lewis

This young man, Christmas John, is far younger than John Parker, though. Just 12 years old when he ferries his first passenger across in the dead of night, quieting the oars, straining to see the light of the stationmaster who waits on the far shore. After that first success, John keeps up his rescue work for years, until it’s finally too dangerous for him and dear Granny Judith to stay a moment longer.

night boat to freedom illustration2 e.b. lewis

Margot Raven has constructed some beautiful, winning characters here after immersing herself in hundreds and hundreds of fascinating interviews of ex-slaves. E.B. Lewis is one of my favorite illustrators, and here again his masterful watercolor work brings these people and scenery and emotions to life with strength and beauty. Ages 5 and up.

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mlk day

I am thrilled over the ever-growing shelves of exceptional books shining a light on issues of racial justice. Today I’ve got five, all new in 2015, and I hope you read every one!

You would be amazed how much depth of understanding you can gain and how many facets of the Civil Rights Movement you can learn about through excellent picture books created by gifted authors and artists. And they’re not just for children, either. I learn many new things from picture books.

Take a look, and then search my Subject Index under Black History/Civil Rights Movement for many more powerful titles.

granddaddy's turn cover imageGranddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box, by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein, illustrated by James E. Ransome
published in 2015 by Candlewick Press

Michael’s granddaddy is a hard-working, strong man, kind, patient as the day is long when the two of them sit together fishing, waiting for a bite.

One surprising day, Granddaddy dresses up in his Sunday best, hugs Grandma jubilantly, and takes Michael by the hand. Off they walk on a mysterious errand. Michael cannot imagine where they’re going!

granddaddy's turn interior bandy, stein, and ransome

Turns out it’s voting day, and for Granddaddy, who has awaited this moment for a long and weary time, it’s the happiest moment of his life. You can understand, then, how bitterly Michael feels when a long day of disrespect and a gallingly-unfair voting test deprive his grandpa from casting his ballot.

Many years later, grown-up Michael does vote, a privilege with a weight of meaning for him.

Rich, dignified strength pours from James Ransome’s paintings in his striking faces and figures and the autumnal palette. An Author’s Note tells more about the manner in which voting rights were denied for so long to African Americans until the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Ages 5 and up.

new shoes cover imageNew Shoes, by Susan Lynn Meyer, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
published in 2015 by Holiday House

Here is a prime example of a picture book that taught me something new, revealing a facet of Jim Crow I had never realized existed and sharpening my understanding of the pain and dehumanizing scourge of racism.

It is almost unbelievable to me that this was accepted practice it is so absurd and humiliating, but African Americans under Jim Crow were not allowed to try on clothes, hats, or shoes in stores. I can hardly bear to write that.

new shoes illustration eric velasquez

This lovely story manages to present this ugly situation in such a way as to emphasize the grace, dignity, and shrewdness with which two young girls circumvented that problem. I love the approach. Award-winning illustrator Eric Velasquez matches that tone with his beautiful little girls, and all of the eagerness, innocence, pain, and resourcefulness expressed on their faces.

An Author’s Note explains the nature of Jim Crow segregation more fully. Ages 4 or 5 and up.

voice of freedom cover imageVoice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
published in 2015 by Candlewick Press

The gorgeous cover image on this book echoes the fortitude and zeal of Fannie Lou Hamer. Her life story is narrated through a series of riveting free verse poems in this powerful book.

voice of freedom illustration3 ekua holmes

What a life this woman led. Born in 1917, the granddaughter of slaves, youngest of 20 children in a Mississippi sharecropper’s household. A childhood of intense poverty, polio, discrimination. Deprived of the right to bear children by duplicitous doctors. Threatened and severely beaten as she worked for equal rights. Struggling. Marching. Singing. Encouraging. Refusing to sit down on the job.

Reading these poems is an extraordinary introduction to Hamer’s life and a gut-wrenching walk through 50 years of civil rights history for anyone ages 10 and up.

voice of freedom illustration ekua holmes

Then, Ekua Holmes’ artwork! Wow. I’m speechless. Simply stunning collage work that’s vigorous, textured, throbbing with dignity and the indomitable figure of Fannie Lou. Tropical, earthy colors dominate the pages, yet sun-hot gold radiates into each illustration as well, symbolic of the light of justice carried by these courageous people. Last week, Holmes was awarded a well-deserved Caldecott Honor for this book. To see more of her ravishing work, please visit her website. I think you’re going to want to buy some of her prints.

seeds of freedom cover imageSeeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama, by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
published in 2015 by Candlewick Press

Obviously, the tone of many, if not most, books on civil rights accents grit, injustice, perseverance through pain and struggle — and rightly so.

If you look at the cover of Seeds of Freedom, the candy-colored balloons floating up into a blue sky, so airy, light spilling onto upturned faces, you sense right away that this book’s focus is hope. And that’s a nice contrast.

seeds of freedom illustration2 e.b. lewis

It’s not that the struggle is absent. The entire background, the soil in which these seeds of freedom are planted, is racism and segregation. People are arrested for sitting at a lunch counter. A baby goes to jail! Children are turned away from schools. Leaders spout hateful speech.

Yet the trajectory of the book is upward and hope-filled. Interestingly, even one element that helped bring desegregation to Huntsville without violence — the space program — has rockets heading up, up to the moon. It’s an interesting story, well-told, with narrative that flows and informs with ease.

seeds of freedom illustration e.b. lewis

E.B. Lewis’ gorgeous paintings are dappled with light at nearly every turn. There is soberness, even bleakness, and at the very worst, the “light” appears more like metallic shards amidst a confusion of dark terror. But the overall feeling you get from his art is the light.

Ages 6 and up. A lengthy Author’s Note outlines a great deal of civil rights history, written for older readers.

the case for loving cover imageThe Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage, by Selina Alko, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
published in 2015 by Arthur A. Levine Books

I think no other picture book has addressed this issue before, and husband-wife team Selina Alko and Sean Qualls have handled it impressively.

Incredibly, the name of the husband and wife who won the Supreme Court case declaring it unconstitutional to make interracial marriage a crime, was Loving. Richard and Mildred Loving. Making a slam dunk title for this book!

the case for loving illustration qualls and alko

It tells the story of how these two met in Virginia in 1958, fell in love, and then crossed into Washington, D.C. to have a legal marriage ceremony. And of how, back in Virginia, police barged into their home in the middle of the night and arrested them for “unlawful cohabitation.” The Lovings were forced to move to D.C. in order to live together as a family, but began the court fight which, in 1967, was decided by a unanimous Supreme Court ruling.

The tone of the narration is calm and direct. The beauty of the races, and the joy and love of this couple, shine out in both language and warm, valentine-heart-studded illustrations. Then, on a dime, we turn the corner and slam into the pain of injustice. Yet even with the grief of this situation, the story glides strongly toward the happily-ever-after conclusion.

the case for loving illustration2 qualls and alko

Striking illustrations draw us into the story and bond us immediately with this likeable Loving family. An Author’s Note talks about the blending of Alko’s and Qualls’ styles and temperaments as they co-labored on the artwork, and a bit of their personal story. Ages 5 and up.

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The biggest U.S. awards for Children’s Lit were awarded yesterday and I am super-happy with the results! Congratulations to all the talented authors and illustrators whose efforts are such a gift to us.

The Newbery is arguably the grand prize, given for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children,” and this year it went to not only my favorite book of the year — I’ve been recommending it over and over — but a picture book!

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You have to look back over 30 years to see the only other picture book to win the Newbery, and that was a poetry compilation, quite different from this year’s winner: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson.

On top of that, it won a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustration.  And an Orange Marmalade Juicy, mind you! WOW. And thoroughly deserved. Read my original review here.


The Caldecott Medal, which is awarded to the artist of the year’s most distinguished picture book, went to an extraordinarily-lovely book, Finding Winnie, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, whose color and line are like velvet in everything she does. I adore this book. Gave it to my daughter for Christmas, as we are fellow Winnie-the-Pooh aficionados. My review of it is here.

Other books I’ve reviewed this year that won top honors are:

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Echo — Newbery Honor. My review is here.

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Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement — Caldecott Honor. My review for that is coming up on Monday as part of my MLK Day post. It’s stunning! Ekua Holmes also won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award for her work on this book.

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Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah won the Schneider Family Book Award given to books that “embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.” My review is here.

the wonderful fluffy little squishy cover image

The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award, given to most outstanding book translated from a foreign language and published in the U.S. I love looking through the Batchelder lists to find good reads. This one is a total charmer. My review is here.

the boys who challenged hitler cover image

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club won a Sibert Honor. The Sibert award is for most distinguished informational book for children. I just reviewed this fantastic book, here.

turning 15 on the road to freedom cover image

Also winning a Sibert Honor is Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom. This book appeared on my Orange Marmalade Juicy lists as well. Fantastic. My original review is here.

And also winning a Sibert Honor is the aforementioned Voice of Freedom, so be sure to stop back on Monday to read about this book and other fabulous Civil Rights reads.

supertruck cover image

Supertruck, which I reviewed here, won a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor. These awards honor distinguished books for the beginning reader.

symphony for the city of the dead cover image

Finally, Symphony for the City of the Dead was a YALSA for Excellence in Nonfiction finalist. This award is given to Young Adult Lit, which I do not much review. But I couldn’t help myself with this monumental book. Read my review of it here.

There are so many other great titles on the ALA awards lists, many of which I’ll be going back to read in the next weeks and months to be sure. You can find all of the awards listed here.



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