Saturday, November 14, 2009

Caldecott Award or Honor Books

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
Weatherford, C.B. (2006). Moses: When Harriet Tubman led her people to freedom. (K. Nadir, Illus.). New
York: Hyperion Books for Children.

In this book, the story of Harriet Tubman, commonly known as Moses, is told through poetry. Harriet Tubman’s deeply religious faith influenced her to runaway to find freedom, and it also encouraged her to travel back to the south many times to help others escape to freedom. Harriet Tubman’s journey is told from Harriet’s perspective, through God’s words, and an unknown third person perspective. God’s words are written larger than the other words stressing the importance of God in Harriet’s journey. Kadir Nelson’s oil paintings help the reader feel Harriet Tubman’s strength and courage. The illustrations at times are dark helping the reader envision the great danger Harriet was in on her journey. However, when Harriet reaches freedom they illustrations are bright and hopeful.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Type of Book: Picture Book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 3.8
Awards: Caldecott Honor, 2007
ALA Notable, 2007
Coretta Scott King Honor, 2007

Wiesner, D. (2006). Flotsam. New York: Clarion Books.

The story of a camera that washes up on the beach is told entirely through watercolor pictures. A young boy discovers a camera that washes up on the beach. After having the film developed, the boy discoveries a new world under the sea that includes aliens, turtles that have whole cities on their backs, and a giant starfish. The young boy takes a picture of himself, as the other children had done before him, before throwing the camera back into the ocean. The illustrator uses color to express time, and the character’s facial expression allows the reader to get a sense of mood.

Genre: Fantasy
Type of Book: Picture Book
Interest level: K-3
Awards: Caldecott Winner, 2007
ALA Notable, 2007

Knuffle Bunny
Willems, M. (2004). Knuffle bunny. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

Trixie takes her favorite stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny, to the Laundromat with her father. Trixie begins playing at the Laundromat, and Knuffle Bunny gets put in the washing machine. However, Trixie does not realize he is missing until they are on their way home. Despite her desperate attempts, Trixie is unable to verbalize to her father that Knuffle Bunny has been forgotten. When they finally arrive home, Trixie’s mother immediately discovers that Knuffle Bunny is missing. They return to the Laundromat and after much searching they find the beloved stuffed animal safe. The illustrator uses a sepia tone background, however, the colorful cartoonlike character’s every emotion is conveyed through facial expressions.

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Type of Book: Picture Book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 2.1
Awards: Caldecott Honor, 2005
ALA Notable 2005

Newbery Award or Honor Books

Al Capone Does My Shirts
Choldenko, G. (2004). Al Capone does my shirts. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Moose moves to Alcatraz Island with his family in 1935 when Moose’s father gets a job as a guard. Moose’s sister, Natalie, is autistic and his mother is obsessed with finding a cure for her illness. Moose’s father is always working and his mother’s obsession has left Moose to watch over his sister and adjust to his new life on the island. He meets and becomes friends with several other children living on the island, including the warden’s daughter, Piper. Piper is always coming up with some scheme to make money, and with some pressure from her, Moose becomes involved in one of her schemes. Despite everything, Moose discovers who he is and how important family is. Author notes are included to help you distinguish between fact and fiction.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Type of Book: Chapter Book
Interest level: 5-8 Reading level: 4.0
Awards: Newbery Honor book, 2005
ALA Notable, 2005

The Graveyard Book
Gaiman, N. (2008). The graveyard book. New York: HarperCollins Publishing.

One night Noboby’s entire family is brutally murdered, and he escapes the murderer by crawling into a nearby graveyard. The spirits that live in the graveyard hide him from the murderer, named Jack, when he comes to the graveyard looking for the young child. The spirits in the graveyard take care of and raise Nobody until one day he puts himself in danger when he leaves the graveyard. Jack becomes aware of his presence and sets out to finish the job he started many years before. With the help of the spirits Nobody is able to get rid of Jack and the other evil men who work for a secret organization that has been trying to kill him for many years. After Jack’s defeat, Nobody is able to leave the graveyard and pursue a normal life.

Genre: Fantasy
Type of Book: Chapter book
Interest level: 5-8 Reading level: 5.1
Awards: Newbery Medal Winner, 2009

Lord, C. (2006). Rules. New York: Scholastic Press.

Catherine is twelve years old and longs for a friend who lives next door. However, Catherine has to worry about her brother David, who has autism, messing up her life again. Catherine tries very hard to help David be “normal” by writing rules for him in her notebook such as, “no toys in the fish tank”. During the summer, Catherine becomes friends with a boy named Jason who she meets in the waiting room of David’s occupational therapist. Catherine begins drawing communication cards for Jason and as the summer comes to an end she is forced to choose between her “normal” friends and the people that she truly cares about. Catherine learns that there is a lot more to being “normal” than just looking “normal”.

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Type of Book: Chapter Book
Interest level: 3-6 Reading level: 3.9
Awards: Newbery Honor book, 2007
ALA Notable, 2007

Coretta Scott King Award and Honor Books

We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
Nelson, K. (2008). We are the ship: The story of Negro league baseball. New York: Jump at the Sun.

The history of the Negro League Baseball is told from the point of view of a Negro League Baseball player. Starting in the 1900’s the author chronicles the growth and expansion of Negro League Baseball until it was ended shortly after Jackie Robinson began playing for the Major Leagues. The Negro baseball players had to overcome many forms of discrimination, however, they tolerated the discrimination because they were able to do what they loved. The rich oil paintings bring the heroes of the Negro Baseball League alive; most of the players are larger than life helping to convey the importance of their life in desegregation. The book includes a foreword written by Hank Aaron as well as a bibliography and index.

Genre: Information
Type of Book: Chapter Book
Interest level: 3-6 Reading level: 6.0
Awards: Coretta Scott King Author & Illustrator Award, 2009
Sibert Award, 2009
Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee, 2009

Ellington Is Not A Street
Shange, N. (1983). Ellington is not a street. (K. Nelson, Illus.). New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Ntozake Shange’s poem “Moon Indigo” is brought to life by Kadir Nelson’s paintings. The author remembers a time when everything her family did was based on the color of their skin. She remembers many of the civil rights activists such as Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois, Ray Barretto, Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, and many others whose courage helped change the world. The whole story is a short poem whose lines are separated onto several pages. Kadir Nelson’s paintings convey emotion, warmth, and help the story come alive.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Type of Book: Picture book
Interest level: 3-6 Reading level: 5.0
Awards: Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, 2005
ALA Notable Books, 2005

Pura Belpre'

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach
Deedy, C.A. (2007). Martina the beautiful cockroach. (M. Austin, Illus.). Atlanta: Peachtree

In this Cuban Folktale, Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha, the beautiful cockroach, has turned 21 days old and it is time for her to get married. Everyone in her family offered her something including Abuela, her Cuban grandmother, who gave her advice on picking a husband. Her grandmother’s advice was to spill coffee on the suitor’s shoes to see how he would talk to her when he was angry. Her suitors include Don Gallo the rooster, Don Cerdo the pig, Don Lagarto the lizard, and Perez the mouse. All the suitors but the Perez fail her grandmother’s coffee test because he also has a Cuban grandmother.

Genre: Folktale
Type of Book: Picture Book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 3.1
Awards: Pura Belpre Honor Book, 2008
ALA Notable, 2008
Texas Bluebonnet Nominee, 2009

My Colors, My World, Mis Colores, Mi Mundo
Gonzalez, M.C. (2007). My colors, my world, mis colores, mi mundo. California: Children’s Book Press.

All the colors of the rainbow are introduced through things that Maya sees in her own environment. Despite the sand storm that covers everything brown, a bird helps Maya see the pink and blue in the sky, the orange of marigold flowers, and yellow in the pollen. The illustrations couldn’t be any brighter, and the Maya’s joy in the colors of the world can be seen on every page through both her and her bird’s facial expression. The story is written in both English and Spanish helping young readers bridge the gap between their native language and English. The book also includes a bilingual color glossary.

Genre: Fiction
Type of Book: Picture book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 2.0
Awards: Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor Book, 2008
ALA Notable, 2008

Dona Flor: A Tall Tale About A Giant Woman With A Great Big Heart
Mora, P. (2005). Dona Flor: A tall tale about a giant woman with a great big heart. (R. Colon, Illus.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf

As a baby Flor’s mother sang to her and just like everything else Flor’s mother sang to she grew and grew. As a child other children made fun of Flor because she was so big. However, one day when the town was scared inside because of a large cat, Flor set out to save her town and her friends. Flor was surprised when she finally found the giant cat. The giant cat was actually a small puma who was roaring into a long, hollow log to make himself sound ferocious. Despite their fear, the townspeople come looking for Flor to find the puma purring under Flor’s gentle touch. Flor’s larger than life, unselfish nature is conveyed through her actions and large colored pencil illustrations.

Genre: Folktale
Type of Book: Picture Book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 1.4
Awards: Pura Belpre Honor Book, 2006
ALA Notable, 2006

Just In Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book
Morales, Y. (2008). Just in case: A trickster tale and Spanish alphabet book. New York: Roaring Book Press.

Just in Case combines both the English and Spanish language. The bright vivid illustrations and the use of both languages bring alive the story of Senor Calavera, who is hunting for a birthday present for his Grandma Beetle. All of Senor Calavera’s gift choices are questioned by Zelmiro the Ghost. Senor Calavera ends up gathering gifts to represent every letter of the alphabet but Z. As he races to the party, he crashes his bike and is unable to retrieve all of the gifts, except for one present. Senor Calavera arrives at the party just before Grandma Beetle blows out the candles with the best present, Grandpa Zelmiro. Despite Senor Calavera being a skeleton, the author and illustrator, is able to portray him as a fun and whimsical character through bright colors and unique arrangement of words and illustrations.

Genre: Folktale
Type of Book: Picture book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 2.3
Awards: Pura Belpre Illustrator Award, 2009

Informational Books

Bishop, N. (2008). Frogs. New York: Scholastic.

Frogs is an information book about all kinds of frogs including the Goliath frog, the largest frog, the dart frog, a very poisonous frog, and the glass frog whose skin is transparent. Nic Bishop includes information about the life cycle of frogs, their parenting styles, different frog calls, and how they adapt to the environment that they live in. The striking photographs taken of frogs in their natural habitat are clear, vivid, and full of life and color. Pictures depicting frogs in motion are also included to help the reader see how frogs jump, eat, and even how they are consumed by predators. The photographs allow the reader to see the frogs up close as if they were looking at the frog in real life.

Genre: Information
Type of Book: Picture book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 3.7
Awards: Bluebonnet award nominee, 2009
Notable Children’s books, 2009

What to do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove her Father Teddy Crazy
Kerley, B. (2008). What to do about Alice? How Alice Roosevelt broke the rules, charmed the world, and drove her father Teddy crazy. (E. Fotheringham, Illus.). New York: Scholastic Press.
What to Do About Alice? is the biography of Alice Roosevelt, who was Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter. Alice wasn’t the typical young girl, Teddy said she was “running a riot”, but Alice called it “eating up the world”. As a child she roamed the streets of Washington, joined an all boys club, taught herself astronomy, geology, Greek grammar, and read Twain, Dickens, Darwin, and the Bible. As an adult she was a goodwill ambassador that everyone loved. However, she continued to run a riot by dancing into the early morning hours, betting on horse races, and jumping into swimming pools fully clothed. Despite being unorthodox she married a congressman and become one of her father’s most trusted advisors. The text is accompanied with digital illustrations that are fun and whimsical, resembling Alice’s personality.

Genre: Information
Type of Book: Picture book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 4.8
Awards: Bluebonnet award nominee, 2009
Sibert Honor book, 2009
Notable Children’s book, 2009

The Tarantula Scientist
Montgomery, S. (2004). The tarantula scientist. (N. Bishop, Illus.). New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop follow Sam Marshall, an arachnologist, to a rainforest in French Guiana, to chronicle his research work with tarantulas. Bishop's photographs taken during their journey through the rainforest accompany the text that includes interesting information about many different species of spiders such as mating habits, habitats, and how they spin webs. The text and pictures are descriptive enough that even those afraid of spiders will find this book fascinating. The book also includes information about the students that Sam Marshall works with, as well as the research that they are conducting.

Genre: Information
Type of Book: Picture book
Interest level: 3-6 Reading level: 5.8
Awards: Sibert Honor book, 2005
Children’s Notable books, 2005

To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel
Siegel, S. C. (2006). To dance: A ballerina’s graphic novel. (M. Siegel, Illus.). New York: Richard Jackson Book.

The author tells her story growing up as a ballerina. Her story begins when a doctor tells her mother that her flat feet can not be fixed, however, her mother enrolls her in ballet classes anyways. Her family moves to New York where she takes classes with The New York City Ballet and performs at the Lincoln Center. When she is seventeen she hurts herself and a year later she starts college. Shortly after college she returns to ballet, and now she manages and directs ballet training at the American Ballet Theatre. The graphic novel format is perfect to retell her story because it allows for many things to happen at the same time, which resembles the events of her life. The watercolor illustrations add to the text and allow students who may have difficulty reading follow the story.

Genre: Information book
Type of Book: Graphic Novel
Interest level: 3-6 Reading level: 3.8
Awards: Children’s Notable books, 2007
Sibert Honor book, 2007

Notable Books

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever
Frazee, M. (2008). A couple of boys have the best week ever. New York: Harcourt.

James and Eamon go to Eamon’s grandparents, Bill and Pam’s house. Each day Bill takes the two boys to nature camp. The two boys find nature camp to be very boring, and they prefer the time they spend at home where they play video games, watch TV late, eat banana waffles, and camp inside. The last night the boys run out of things to do, and they finally go outside and discover how fun the outdoors can be. By the end of the week, they have done so much together that they have essentially became one person, which Bill and Pam call Jamon. The illustrations are fun and the conversation bubbles provide all the conversation that takes place between the boys.

Genre: Realistic fiction
Type of book: Picture book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 2.7
Awards: Notable Children’s book, 2009
Caldecott Honor book, 2009

Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City
Schulman, J. (2008). Pale male: Citizen hawk of New York City. (M. So, Illus.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

A red-tailed hawk decides to stay in New York City instead of continuing on his migration journey. The excited birdwatchers of New York City name him Pale Male. Pale Male thrives in his new habitat and makes a nest with his mate on top of an exclusive apartment building on Fifth Avenue. The occupants of the apartment building get tired of the hawk’s mess and have the nest removed angering the birdwatchers and the Audubon Society. Persuaded by protestors outside the apartment occupants eventually agree to have the anti-pigeon spikes reinstalled and add a ledge to catch the hawk’s garbage. The green of Central Park and the brown of the apartment building are beautifully illustrated using water colors. The author also includes an author’s note about her research and information for further study.

Genre: Information
Type of Book: Picture book
Interest level: 3-6 Reading level: 5.8
Awards: Bluebonnet nominee, 2009
Children’s Notable book, 2009

The House in the Night
Swanson, S.M. (2008). The house in the night. (B. Krommes, Illus.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

This pattern picture book was inspired by the traditional poem; This is the Key of the Kingdom. The child in the book is reading a book in which a bird sings a song about the starry night, the moon, and the sun. The story comes full circle and ends where it begins with “here is the key to the house”. The black and white scratchboard illustrations are simple like the text. The gold accents provided by the sun, moon, and stars add interest and intrigue to the simple text and illustrations.

Genre: Fantasy
Type of Book: Picture book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 1.7
Awards: Children’s Notable book, 2009
Caldecott Medal winner, 2009

Zelinsky, P. (1997). Rapunzel. New York: Puffin Books.

Paul Zelinsky retells the familiar folktale about a beautiful young girl who is imprisoned in a tower by a sorceress at the age of twelve. Rapunzel’s only visitor is the sorceress until a young man rides by the tower and begins suiting Rapunzel. Rapunzel’s hair is cut off and the young man is blinded when the sorceress finds out that Rapunzel is expecting a baby. After Rapunzel escapes, she finds the young man and her tears heal his eyes. Zelinsky’s choice to set the story in an Italian Renaissance style was inspired by the history of the story, the beauty of Rapunzel, and the image of a tower which is important to the story. The author includes an author’s note that traces the many translations of this popular story.

Genre: Folklore
Type of Book: Picture book
Interest level: K-3 Reading level: 3.8
Awards: Caldecott Award book, 1998
Children’s Notable book, 1998

Notable Recordings

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Jeff Woodman. (2007). The invention of Hugo Caberet [playaway]. Scholastic Audiobooks.

Hugo Caberet lives in a train station in Paris in the 1930’s. He has been secretly taking care of the clocks and living behind the walls in the train station since he was orphaned. His secrets are jeopardized when he is caught stealing from a toymaker. The secrets of Hugo, the toymaker, and his granddaughter are revealed through both text and black and white pencil illustrations. The audio brings alive the sounds of the train station and the characters deepest feelings are conveyed through Jeff Woodman’s voice. The sound of the clocks ticking and the train rushing through the station transport you to the train station. Following along in the book and listening to the audio at the same time is very similar to watching a movie on the big screen.

Genre: Fiction
Type of book: Chapter book, "Novel in words and pictures"
Interest level: 3-6 Reading level: 5.6
Awards: Notable Children’s Recording, 2008
Caldecott Award winner, 2008
Bluebonnet award nominee, 2009

My Shelfari Bookshelf

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog