Friday, December 23, 2022

From Our Bookshelves 2022

As we wrap up 2022, we enthusiastically recommend sixteen of our favorite books from this year.  We love discovering books that make us want to read and re-read them—books that we can’t wait to share with the children in our lives.  We hope you enjoy them, too.

Picture Books:

  • Mina by Matthew Forsythe
  • Rodney Was a Tortoise by Nan Forler, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang
  • Somewhere in the Bayou by Jarrett Pumphrey, illustrated by Jerome Pumphrey
  • Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
  • The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky by Jihyun Kim
  • Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall
  • A Bear, A Bee, and a Honey Tree by Daniel Bernstrom, illustrated by Brandon James Scott


  • Healer & Witch by Nancy Werlin
  • The Bluest Sky by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
  • Black Bird, Blue Road by Sofiya Pasternack
  • Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas


  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen


  • Solitary Animals: Introverts of the Wild by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Dominique Ramsey
  • A Seed Grows by Antoinette Portis
  • Unbreakable: The Spies Who Cracked the Nazis’ Secret Code by Rebecca E. F. Barone
  • Ain't Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Jason Griffin

If you are looking for more book recommendations, browse these best-of-the year lists and award winners.

Bookpage Best Middle Grade and Chapter Books of 2022  

Bookpage Best Picture Books of 2022  

Horn Book Fanfare 2022  

Kirkus Best Picture Books of 2022  

Kirkus Best Middle-Grade Books of 2022  

NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children 2023

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children 2023  

The New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2022  

Publishers Weekly Best Children's and YA Books 2022  

School Library Journal Best Books of 2022   

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

From Our Bookshelves 2021


With 2022 just a few days away, we would like to share fifteen of our favorite books from 2021.  These are the books that we read, re-read, and recommended.  

Picture Books:
  • Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
  • Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor
  • Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin
  • The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld
  • Survivor Tree by Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Aaron Becker
  • It Fell from the Sky by Terry and Eric Fan
  • Off-Limits by Helen Yoon
  • Fox + Chick: The Sleepover by Sergio Ruzzier
  • Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest by Ole Konnecke
  • Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt
  • Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatraman
  • The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
  • Across the Rainbow Bridge: Stories of Norse Gods and Humans by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love
  • Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown by Steve Sheinkin
  • The Genius Under the Table : Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain written and illustrated by Eugen Yelchin

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Cybils Awards 2017

The Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Award Winners were announced today.  Head on over to the Cybils site to check out all the winners.  While you are there, be sure to look up the winners for the Junior High Nonfiction and Senior High Nonfiction categories.  I was lucky enough to be able to work on those committees and enthusiastically recommend the winners.  If you haven't read them, add them to your reading list.

Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

From Our Bookshelves 2017

We're excited to recommend our favorite twenty books of 2017.  These are the books that we have read and re-read, thought about, talked about, and shared.   We hope you'll love them, too.

Picture Books:
  • The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
  • Walk with Me by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng
  • Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
  • The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
  • When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson
  • Egg by Kevin Henkes
  • A Greyhound, a Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans
  • The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell
  • After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat
  • Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Sydney Smith

  • Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
  • Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang
  • Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Brian Floca
  • Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

  • Dazzle: World War I and the Art of Confusion by Chris Barton, illustrated by Victo Ngai
  • Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  • Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinken
  • The Secret Project by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter

  • I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith

And if you're looking for more end-of-the-year lists and award winners, the links below are a great place to start.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

'Tis the season . . . to pull out your favorite holiday books, and maybe add a few more to your pile. We wanted to spotlight some new books that were released this year.  Although very different in style and story, they all highlight a very important aspect of any holiday -- tradition.  Whether picking a perfect Christmas tree, eating special foods, giving gifts or singing songs, let your customs and quirks shine this holiday season, and don't forget to share a good book!

danyelle shares:

Red & Lulu
by Matt Tavares
published by Candlewick Press

Red and Lulu, a pair of cardinals that live “on the branches of a mighty evergreen”, are happy in what they consider a perfect home, until one day as winter is setting in, Red returns to find that the tree—with Lulu inside it—is being taken away.  Red chirps for Lulu to stay where she is and promises to find her.  His search takes Red to a “strange place” that readers will recognize from the light-infused, bird’s-eye view illustrations of the New York Public Library, the Empire State Building, and the streets of New York City.  It won’t surprise anyone when Red and Lulu are reunited, but readers will almost certainly learn something new from the added information at the end of the story about the birds’ new home—the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.  Make sure you take a peek under the dust jacket at the elegant, snowy cover.

review copy received from publisher

The 12 Days of Christmas
by Greg Pizzoli
published by Disney Hyperion Books

When a young elephant’s friend shows up with a partridge in a pear tree, his dad is a little wary and becomes more concerned still when the friend returns on the second day with a pair of turtle doves.  The gifts continue to come, following the lines of the traditional song (three French hens, four calling birds, five golden rings), but with Pizzoli’s comic twists added into the pictures (a swan arrives with an alligator float, the maids a-milking are mice carrying cartons and glasses of milk).  With each successive gift, Dad becomes more distressed, and the children and the gift-characters are too caught up in their own boisterous celebration to notice, until finally he breaks down in tears.  The cartoon eyes are simple, yet unmistakably expressive, whether Dad is glaring out the window, looking with apprehension at the gifts, or warming up to the affection of new friends. Eventually, Dad softens, and the final page with a stocking hung for each bird, mouse, pig, cat, frog, bunny, and elephant lets readers know that all the characters will be celebrating Christmas together.  Great for reading aloud and singing along.

tara shares:

Pick A Pine Tree
by Patricia Toht
illustrated by Jarvis
published by Candlewick Press

The metallic lettering and bow adorning the dust jacket wrap up a cheerfully illustrated nod to the distinct and magical experience of choosing the perfect pine tree to decorate for Christmas.

"Pick a pine tree
from the lot --

slim and tall
or short and squat."

Rhythmic text guides you through visiting the tree lot, finding just the right tree, bringing it home and decorating with friends and family.  Warm colors and descriptive verse highlight the smells, lights, trimmings and family that are required to transform a humble pine into the perfect Christmas tree.  I love illustrations with reappearing characters (the birds from the beginning make an appearance at the end of the book) and my children loved watching the happy pets join in the family festivities.

review copy received from publisher

A Christmas for Bear
by Bonny Becker
illustrated by Lady MacDonald Denton
published by Candlewick Press

Bear and Mouse -- unlikely friends that fit together so well.  In this holiday installment of the Bear and Mouse franchise, we see Bear hosting a holiday party for his friend and because he has never had a real Christmas he must rely on what he has read, and "Clearly, the most important thing was pickles."

Though not familiar with "Christmas pickles," it was easy to be drawn into the back and forth exchanges between curmudgeonly Bear and curious Mouse.  While Mouse sneaks away to search for presents, Bear repeatedly brings him back.

                          "Unnecessary hogwash!"  Bear scolded.  "We have pickles, remember."
                          "Oh," said Mouse.
                          And Mouse trudged behind Bear back to the living room.

Each time, Mouse dutifully returns to his friend's party to eat pickles "from France" and to listen to Bear read a "long and difficult poem" even though all he wants is a Christmas present.  The watercolor, ink and gouache illustrations delightfully capture the emotions and sweet relationship between the two while transforming a grumpy Bear and disappointed Mouse with a fitting holiday resolution.

review copy received from publisher

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

From Our Bookshelves 2016

2016 is quickly coming to an end, and one of our favorite things to do is scour all of the end-of-the-year lists for any favorite books we may have missed.  Are there any hidden gems that have escaped your notice?

Before the year closes, be sure to check out these "Best of" Lists:

Publisher's Weekly's Best Children's and YA Books 2016

The New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2016
The New York Times Notable Children's Books of 2016

Kirkus Best Middle-Grade Books of 2016
Kirkus Best Picture Books of 2016

Horn Book Fanfare

School Library Journal's Best Picture Books of 2016
School Library Journal's Best Chapter Books of 2016
School Library Journal's Best Nonfiction Books of 2016
School Library Journal's Best Middle Grade Books of 2016

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children
NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children

National Book Awards

And, if that didn't quench your thirst for top books of the year, let us throw our vote it!  These are some of our favorite books from 2016.

Picture Books:
  • They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzal
  • A Well Mannered Young Wolf by Jean Leroy, illustrated by Matthieu Maudet
  • Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin and Rob Dunlavey
  • Before Morning by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes
  • The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh
Non-Fiction Picture Books:
  • A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
  • Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet
  • Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre
  • Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin
  • We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman
  • Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner, illustrated by Gareth Hinds

  • When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad
  • Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka

Friday, December 18, 2015

From Our Bookshelves 2015

'Tis the season for many things . . . including end-of-the-year lists.  You'll want to check these lists twice to make sure you didn't miss any of the year's best.

Horn Book Fanfare

Kirkus Best Middle-Grade Books

School Library Journal's Best of 2015

Publisher's Weekly's Best Children's Books

The New York Times Notable Children's Books
The New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books

National Book Awards

And, finally, here are our favorites of 2015.  These are books that we read, loved, and shared again and again.   We whole-heartily recommend thesm.

Picture Books:


  • The Nest by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jon Klassen
  • Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Audacity by Melanie Crowder
  • The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
  • Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt



  • Over the Hills and Far Away: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes collected by Elizabeth Hammill, illustrated by more than 70 artists