Every month, we’ll post an annotated bibliography of books that were rated ‘Outstanding’ and nominated for our Distinguished List at our previous month’s meeting. Members can see full reviews of these books and many more in the November edition of BayViews.
Catty Jane who Loved to Dance written and illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
Boyd Mills/Highlights, 2013.
Catty Jane loved to dance, dreaming of becoming a ballerina someday. Finally, her mother sends her to ballet classes at Mrs. Herron’s Dance Academy. The tale pairs nicely with Ellen Stoll Walsh’s Hop Jump (Voyager, c1993) for a story time on self-expression and inclusion. Colorful and slightly humorous illustrations, done in watercolor and pen and ink, add to the upbeat feel of the story. (Preschool – Grade 2)
The Silver Button written and illustrated by Bob Graham
As Jodie’s brother Jonathan takes his first step, so much else is happening – within his own house, neighborhood and all the way through the city. Graham’s simple text and expressive ink and watercolor illustrations introduce a fairly sophisticated concept in a way that will resonate with and inspire the very young. (Baby/toddler – Grade 2)
When Charley Met Grandpa by Amy Hest; illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Grandfather admits he has “never been friends with a dog before,” but Henry’s winsome puppy Charley eventually wins him over. Elegant realistic illustrations convey Grandpa’s initial discomfort with Charley, and the gradual thawing of their relationship in a story as charming as the earlier “Charley’s First Night.”
The Meanest Birthday Girl written and illustrated by Josh Schneider
In five short chapters, transitional readers follow Dana as she goes from bully to bullied, and learns how to even the score with tormentors. The droll tale has just enough detail in art and narrative to make a point, and make it funny, too. (Grades 2 – 4)
Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci; illustrated by Sara Varon
First Second, 2013.
Proper Theadora is appalled when Chad, a colorful, eccentric duck, moves in next door. Only when the other ducks fly south for the winter does Theodora find that she and Chad have more in common than she thought. (Grades 1 – 4)
The Real Boy by Anne Ursu; illustrated by Erin McGuire
Walden Pond, 2013.
Oscar is the servant of Caleb, the only magician left on the magic-soaked island of Aletheia. When Aletheian children fall inexplicably ill and a monster terrorizes the island, Oscar and his new friend Callie investigate. The Real Boy is raised far above typical middle grade fantasy by both the character and development of Oscar, and the sophistication of the themes explored. (Grades 6 – 8)
The Year of Billy Miller written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
In this warm, low key longer transitional novel, we experience the second grade school year of average kid Billy Miller, from hesitance about his new teacher, to the year-end school poetry assembly. The book design features quite a bit of white space, a sizable font, as well as spot pencil illustrations that will draw in the reader who is moving up from simple short chapter books. (Grades 2 – 4)
Randolph Caldecott: The Man who Could not Stop Drawing written and illustrated by Leonard S. Marcus
Caldecott’s life and times are explored through a creative, entertaining, and informative text. The picture book sized biography displays many of Caldecott’s illustrations throughout. Excellent research makes for an absorbing reading experience. (Grades 4 – 7 and Adult)
Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sara Levine; illustrated by T. S. Spookytooth
Thoughtful and amusing questions about skeletons encourage insight and discussion in this witty, scientific and charmingly illustrated non-fiction picture book that uses comparative anatomy and imagination to explore evolutionary history and skeletal adaptations that affect function. The book is a natural for storytime or a parent-child read-aloud. (Kindergarten – Grade 3)