Archive for the ‘Newbery Books’ Category

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

Read Full Post »

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

freedom in congo square cover image

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:

we will not be silent cover image

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:

oops pounce quick run cover image

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!


Read Full Post »

It’s National Dog Day, and as a dog-lover I’m good with that!

Give your dog an extra treat, then treat yourself with one of these tail-wagging titles.  From vintage to 2016, all of them are linked to my original review.

angus and the ducks cover

Angus and the Ducks

charley's first night cover image

Charley’s First Night

excellent ed cover image

Excellent Ed

the great serum race cover image

The Great Serum Race

hannah and sugar cover image

Hannah and Sugar

homer cover image elisha cooper


let's get a pup said kate cover image

“Let’s Get a Pup!” said Kate

mr. davies and the baby cover image charlotte voake

Mr. Davies and the Baby

muley ears cover image 001

Muley Ears, Nobody’s Dog

our dog cover image

Our Dog

And a couple pieces of dog-gone good fiction:


Ginger Pye

rain reign cover image

Rain Reign


Read Full Post »

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!

last stop on market street cover image

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:

echo cover image

Echo — Newbery Honor. My review is here.

voice of freedom cover image

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.

emmanuel's dream cover image

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.



Read Full Post »

vilage menIf you follow Orange Marmalade you know that when my children were small, our family lived in West Africa. Nearly everyone in that vast, dusty land was a Muslim.

These were the people who welcomed us in when we were strangers. Patiently put up with me when I could not figure out how to ask, “How much for the Djibril and Gretabananas?”  Danced for joy when our daughter was born.  Sat with us in comforting solidarity when we were violently robbed. Shared with us out of their poverty. Loved my kids with warm hearts when we were far from extended family. Rejoiced with us mama rochellewhen our daughter survived cerebral malaria.

Here in Minneapolis, we have become friends with some from that same Muslim community and once again, their generosity, faithful friendship, readiness to overlook our faults, makes them some of our dearest, truest friends.

So, as you can imagine, I am outraged and deeply saddened by the xenophobic, anti-Muslim rhetoric spewing around our country these weeks. Not only by the vociferous voices of a sad number of guys with microphones, but by the bleating chorus of those who applaud them. Truly, my heart is crushed. Yet hopeful, too. It is beautiful to hear so many stand to denounce these fear mongering notions.


We must teach our children, and remind ourselves, how to welcome the stranger, show hospitality to those far from familiar faces and homes, comfort those whose lives have been shattered by violence, live in peace with those whose beliefs are other than our Muslim-and-Christian-Girls-1000x1024-e1430827324469own. We must teach our kids to listen, to learn from, and to empathize with people who look, speak, behave, eat, dress, pray, differently than we do. What richness there is in the diverse cultures of the worldwide human race.

Every day is always the right time to plant seeds of kindness and peaceableness in kids’ hearts. Reading others’ stories is one place to begin. To that end, I’ve pulled together some titles. Those I’ve reviewed before are linked to their full reviews. The others I’m only mentioning so this blog does not run on far too long BUT they are great choices. I’ve marked the picture books with an asterisk:


Books about Islam/Islamic Cultures:

deep in the sahara cover image

*Deep in the Sahara
A Mauritanian girl longs to wear a veil like her mama.


going to mecca cover image
*Going to Mecca, by Na’ima B. Robert, illustrated by Valentina Cavallini, published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books in 2012
Great guided tour of all the events of a hajj for ages 5 and up.

the grand mosque of paris cover image
*The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust, by Karen Gray Ruelle, illustrated by Deborah Durland DeSaix, published in 2009 by Holiday House
Fascinating history of heroism for ages 8 to adult.

i see the sun in afghanistan cover image
*I See the Sun in Afghanistan, by Dedie King, translation into Dari by Mohd Vahidi, illustrations by Judith Inglese, published in 2011 by Satya House Publications
A look at an ordinary day for a family of Afghani Muslims. Ages 4 and up.

lailah's lunchbox cover image
*Lailah’s Lunchbox:A Ramadan Story, by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Lea Lyon, published in 2015 by Tilbury House Publishers
A young girl wrestles with keeping the fast during school. Ages 5 and up.

mansa musa cover image
*Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali
The story of perhaps the wealthiest man in the history of the world.

mosque cover image
written and illustrated by David Macaulay, published in 2003 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Macaulay is a master at teaching us how things are made. Ages 11 to adult.

my name was hussein cover image*My Name was Hussein, by Hristo Kyuchukov, illustrated by Allan Eitzen, published in 2004 by Boyds Mill Press
A fascinating story about a Roma Muslim family in Bulgaria during WWII. Ages 5 and up.
mystery bottle cover image

*Mystery Bottle
An Iranian grandpa and his grandson long to be together.

nabeel's new pants cover image
*Nabeel’s New Pants: An Eid Tale, retold by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrations by Proiti Roy, published in India in 2007; published by Marshall Cavendish in 2010
A funny tale about dressing up for Eid. Ages 3 and up.

nasreen's secret school cover image
*Nasreen’s Secret School
A courageous story of educating girls under the Taliban.



*Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story, by Hena Khan, illustrated by Julie Paschkis, published in 2008 by Chronicle Books

Yasmeen loves all the celebrations and traditions of the month of Ramadan.

a party in ramadan cover image
*A Party in Ramadan
, by Asma Mobin-Uddin, illustrated by Laura Jacobsen, published in 2009 by Boyds Mill Press
A birthday party during Ramadan presents a challenge for a young girl. Ages 5 and up.

ramadan moon cover image
*Ramadan Moon, by Na’ima B. Robert, illustrated by Shirin Adl, published in 2009 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

A walk through the practices of the month of Ramadan. Ages 4 and up.

razia's ray of hope cover image
*Razia’s Ray of Hope
A girl yearns for schooling in Afghanistan.

sundiata cover image
*Sundiata: Lion King of Mali
A dazzling story of the ancient Mali empire.

time to pray cover image
*Time to Pray, by Maha Addasi, Arabic Translation by Nuha Albitar, illustrated by Ned Gannon, published in 2010 by Boyds Mill Press

The practice of prayer in Islam. Ages 4 and up.

traveling man cover image
*Traveling Man:The Journey of Ibn Battuta
The fascinating travels of a medieval Muslim.

the white nights of ramadan cover image
*The White Nights of Ramadan, by Maha Addasi, illustrated by Ned Gannon, published in 2008 by Boyds Mill Press
A story about the celebrations mid-way through Ramadan. Ages 5 and up.

Books about the refugee experience:

the arrival cover image

The Arrival
Powerful graphic novel about bewildering newness.

children growing up with war cover image
Children Growing Up With War
, written and illustrated by Jenny Matthews, published in 2014 by Candlewick
Heartbreaking true stories from a photojournalist. Fantastic read for ages 11 to adult.

the day my father became a bush cover image
The Day My Father Became a  Bush
An affecting story of flight amid war.

Four Feet Jacket lowercase sandalsv6b.indd
*Four Feet Two Sandals
A sweet story from a refugee camp.

hamzat's journey cover image
*Hamzat’s Journey
The true story of one Chechnyan refugee.

home of the brave cover image
Home of the Brave
A marvelous novel of a Sudanese refugee to Minnesota.

the house of sixty fathers cover image
The House of Sixty Fathers
Incredible novel of a little Chinese boy during WWII.

how many days to america cover image
*How Many Days to America
A harrowing journey across the Caribbean to the U.S.

i'm new here cover image
*I’m New Here, written and illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien, published in 2015 by Charlesbridge

Guatemalan, Korean, and Somali immigrant children cope with their arrival in U.S. schools. Ages 5 and up.

inside out and back again cover image
Inside Out and Back Again
The moving story of a Vietnamese refugee.

a long walk to water cover image
A Long Walk to Water
The story of one of Sudan’s Lost Boys.

mali under the night sky cover image
*Mali Under the Night Sky
A young girl’s flight from Laos.

the red pencil cover image
The Red Pencil
A story of one girl’s trauma at the hands of Sudanese rebels.

A few golden favorites inspiring kindness, compassion, empathy, all with links to my full reviews:

boxes for katje cover image
*Boxes for Katje

a chair for my mother cover image
*A Chair for My Mother

chicken sunday cover image
*Chicken Sunday

christmas eve at the mellops cover image
*Christmas Eve at the Mellops

crow boy cover image
*Crow Boy

dogger cover image

emma's poem cover image
*Emma’s Poem:The Voice of the Statue of Liberty

gus and grandpa and the christmas cookies cover image
Gus and Grandpa and the Christmas Cookies

the hundred dresses cover image
The Hundred Dresses

if you plant a seed kadir nelson cover image
*If You Plant a Seed

the junkyard wonders cover image
*The Junkyard Wonders

last stop on market street cover image
*Last Stop on Market Street

my heart will not sit down cover image
*My Heart Will Not Sit Down

twenty and ten cover image
Twenty and Ten

wonder cover image

Read Full Post »

el deafo cover image2 cece bellEl Deafo, a graphic novel by Cece Bell
published in 2014 by Amulet Books

Winner of a 2015 Newbery Honor, this is the book I’ve been waiting in a longlonglong library request line to get my hands on.

And yes, it’s that good.

It’s a children’s novel that masterfully spans age categories, speaking to readers from the middle grades straight through to their grandparents. And it’s the first time a graphic novel has been awarded by the Newbery committee.

In it, author Cece Bell recollects the smidgeon of life she had as a hearing child, the bout of meningitis at age 4 that brought on her severe/profound deafness, and the tricky pathway she navigated in elementary school. We leave her while she’s in the 5th grade.


It’s a poignant story, rich with authentic emotion. It’s an honest story, granting us priceless access to Bell’s grapplings and perspectives. And it’s a funny, warm story about an ordinary girl who yearns for friendship.

Cece’s parents are strong advocates who work to mainstream their daughter from the start. She learns lip-reading and visits audiologists to find a hearing aid that meets her needs. The solution, in the 1970s, is a Phonic Ear — a bulky gizmo strapped to her chest with wires snaking up to her ears. And it’s downright embarrassing.


A surprising consequence of the Phonic Ear, however, is a superhero-level ability that is quite entertaining to Cece and provides favor with other kids, a bit of consternation, and her private alter-ego, El Deafo.

el deafo interior2 cece bell

Managing self-consciousness, classmates who don’t understand, crushes on boys, and other large and small traumas, takes courage for any of us. We all know the hope, pain, nervousness, and at times loneliness, that are a part of finding our place, of establishing friends who know us, accept us, and like us. These rites of passage are magnified for Cece, as she longs to not be “the deaf girl” but simply a likable person with true friends.

Bell makes ingenious use of speech bubbles to convey deafness and a variety of hearing difficulties. The opening of the story, in fact, stunned me as she carries us through her stay in the hospital and ushers us into the silence that begins to envelop her.

el deafo interior cece bell

It’s a narrative that among other things helps us examine our own response to those dealing with various challenging situations, and it does so in both a winsome and forthright manner. That makes it quite a remarkable gift to all of us.

A lengthy Note from the Author provides additional helpful information about various perspectives on deafness.

Read Full Post »

the trumpeter of krakow cover imageThe Trumpeter of Krakow, by Eric P. Kelly
published in 1928 by Simon & Schuster


Medieval Poland.
Mysterious jewels.

That’s the story of The Trumpeter of Krakow in  a nutshell.

Eric Kelly won the Newbery Medal for it in 1929 and my kids rate it high on the list of books they loved at around age 12.

Joseph Charnetski, 15 years old, has fled with his family to Krakow, Poland, after Tatars attacked and pillaged their Ukrainian home. The year is 1461. medieval KrakowJoseph is not aware that hidden in the family’s luggage is the Great Tarnov Crystal, a stone which the Charnetski family has sworn to protect with their lives. So far, they’ve guarded it for 200 years.

When they arrive in Krakow, the Charnetskis find shelter in the home of an alchemist. They change their name and take every precaution from being Arkenstonediscovered. It’s clear that dangerous men are pursuing the stone, and are willing to risk anything to get it.

sounding the heynalA key plot element is the legend of the trumpeter of Krakow which stems from events in the 1200s. At that time, in a tower in one of Krakow’s churches,  a watchman was always posted, ready to alert the people of invaders by blowing his trumpet. One night he began to sound the alarm. Enemy archers shot at him, but he continued playing until his throat was pierced. At that, his note was abruptly silenced, but the alarm had been enough. Krakow was saved. The city still honors his memory by trumpeting a hymn called The Hejnal from the tower every hour, ending the tune suddenly on a high note. You’ll have to read the book to see how this tradition impacts young Joseph as the Charnetskis strive to protect their treasure.

Because this book was written in the 20’s, the language is more formal, and Eric Kelly uses a stiff vocabulary. His descriptions of medieval Poland are rich, but his characters, especially the female characters, are a little dated. medieval alchemistNevertheless, it’s an exciting adventure story, and a lot of Dark Arts, creepy guys, and shady alchemy make it quite suspenseful.

My own kids listened to this on CD, and I think it would make a better read-aloud for many as the reading level is difficult for the age group who will enjoy it. That’s about ages 10-15 I’d guess. Give it a whirl with stout readers or good listeners.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: