Newbery, Caldecott, Printz & ALL the Youth and Teen Book, Audio and Video Awards Announced!

On Monday, February 2 in a snowed in Chicago The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the top books, video and audio books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards – at its Midwinter Meeting. A hotly anticipated day for librarians, publishers, and lovers of youth and teen literature the awards the announcements culminate a year's worth of reading, listening and watching by a wide variety of librarians and educators all over the country. Over the years the variety of awards given out has grown to cover

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

The Crossover,” written by Kwame Alexander, is the 2015 Newbery Medal winner.

Two Newbery Honor Books also were named:
El Deafo” by Cece Bell
Brown Girl Dreaming,” by Jacqueline Woodson

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” illustrated by Dan Santat, is the 2015 Caldecott Medal winner.

Six Caldecott Honor Books also were named:

Nana in the City,” illustrated and written by Lauren Castillo
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art,” illustrated by Mary GrandPré, written by Barb Rosenstock
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole,” illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
Viva Frida,” illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus,” illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jennifer Bryant
This One Summer,” illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

Brown Girl Dreaming,” written by Jacqueline Woodson, is the King Author Book winner.

Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse

In Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse, a very curious mouse wakes up one day, only to discover that all of the other mice have disappeared. The reason? The invention of the mechanical mouse trap! Our little mouse friend knows he must reach his friends and family in America, but with hungry cats guarding the ships at the harbor and owls following him each night, the little mouse knows his journey will not be easy. Late one night, the little mouse spies bats flying in the distance, and (in a stroke of pure mousy genius) realizes that he must fly to America. The mouse will build his own little wings for the long journey overseas. Although difficult at first, our furry protagonist constructs his very own pair of wings, and sets off across the Atlantic.

This story hinges on it's beautiful and breathtaking illustrations, and readers will connect easily to the mouse at the center of this inspiring story. The mechanical aspects of this book greatly reminded me of the illustrations and overall feel of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Other great mouse stories with similar themes include Mousenet, Young Fredle, and Ratatouille.

Cozy Books for Winter

Are you feeling done with winter even though winter isn’t done with you? I can relate! Luckily, we’ve got some great kids books to make the winter more cozy and fun. My favorite new addition to this group is Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold, by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen. This book is a true gem. Each page combines poems about life during the winter, gorgeous illustrations, and a sidebar explaining the facts behind the poem. For a lovely mix of art and science, you can’t get much better than this book!

If you’re going stir crazy and need some fun activities, check out Fun and Festive Winter Crafts, which will teach you how to make a number of seasonal crafts and offers information on the science of winter. Creating Winter Crafts will also help drive away boredom.

Finally, if you want a hilarious and sweet winter classic, try the great picture book Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester. And for older readers, check out my personal winter favorite, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic The Long Winter. I guarantee you that this book will make you feel better about our winters!

Grab some hot chocolate and cozy up with one of these books! Spring will be here before we know it. Hopefully.

Is Your Teacher A Monster?

Peter Brown, author and illustrator of the popular and fabulous picture book Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, brings us a new bit of fun in My Teacher is a Monster. In this picture book Bobby has a big problem at school. Her name was Ms. Kirby. She was the meanest teacher who stomped and roared and did not allow paper airplanes in class. She was a monster. But then one day something happens and Bobby sees her in a whole new light.

The book is delighfully illustrated in true Brown fashion, and would be a fun read whether your teacher roars or not.

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space

Looking for a cool new non-fiction book with a twist? Look no further: Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space has just arrived! Join Professor Astro (a very smart kitty!) as he leads readers through our galaxy and beyond, stopping along the way to explain and explore our solar system. Have you ever wondered how a rocket works? Or maybe you've always wanted to know how to find your favorite constellation in the night sky? Professor Astro is here to help!

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space is overflowing with cool information, and covers varied space topics such as the life cycle of stars, the Apollo missions, the International Space Station, how modern space suits work, constellations, telescopes, and many more cool space topics. Much of the information is delivered through funky and retro illustrations. This is the kind of book you can spend hours with, pouring over the small details. This book was created by Dr. Dominic Wallman (who holds a PhD in Quantum Physics) and award-winning illustrator and comic book creator Ben Newman, making it both scientifically accurate as well as very visually appealing. This is a great book for all ages, and comes highly recommended!

Interested in learning even more about space? Try out the DK Guide to Space or The Story of Astronomy and Space for more information.

Cool new nonfiction for kids: Skyscrapers!

Are you curious about how huge buildings like the John Hancock Center, the Eiffel Tower and the Chrysler Building were constructed? I know I am, and I’ve always been interested in the architectural feats that keep such towering structures upright for—in some cases—over a hundred years. The amazing new book Who Built That? Skyscrapers, by Didier Cornille, is an introduction to familiar skyscrapers and their architects geared towards kids… but absolutely fascinating for all ages!

My favorite part of the book are the amazing illustrations that show different stages of construction of each building, including the inside skeleton and the frame, so readers can find out how the structure manages to stand so tall. It is so cool to see! Readers can also learn a little bit about each architect including what inspired them to build the featured structure, and what other unique buildings they constructed during their careers.

If you want to learn even more about skyscrapers, try Skyscrapers: Inside and Out, Unbuilding, or Skyscraper, all available at the AADL.

How To Build Your Own Country

Are you a kid that likes making stuff? Are you tired of people bossing you around all of the time? Why not start your own country? How to Build Your Own Country is exactly the guide you need to turn your diplomatic dreams into a reality!

How to Build Your Own Country is the essential guide for creating a new country. This book leads you through important steps in the country-building process, such as naming your country, finding a population, designing a flag and motto, and writing a national anthem. Once you've created your new country, it's time to keep your citizens in order! Let this book guide you through tricky tasks such as setting up a government, holding elections, making the laws and serving your citizens. Once you've got a handle on your country's internal politics, this book also looks at how to best handle keeping the peace between different nations. Pretty soon, you may find yourself with a fully functioning country on your hands!

As you read, you will frequently run into fun facts or interesting stories along the way to help you visualize how these tips played out with other real-life countries. This book includes comic-style illustrations, making it exceptionally easy to pick up and read. This fun and interactive book is a must read for kids of all ages.

Need some inspiration for your new country? Check out books like 100 Countries, 5000 Ideas or Building Manhattan to help spark your own creativity and imagination.

Freddie Fernortner Series by Jonathan Rand

Local author Jonathan Rand of the popular American Chillers and Michigan Chillers series for children, has a series for younger readers called Freddie Fernortner: Fearless First Grader. The twelve book series can now be found at AADL!

The Freddie books feature a mix of spooky and silly aimed at early chapter book readers. Take a look if you’re looking for a new chapter book series by a very likeable Michigan author.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

Every so often, you find a book that is so brilliant that you can't help but immediately pass it on. When I first read The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, I knew that I had found something special.

In the story, we meet little Beekle: an imaginary friend. In Beekle's world, all imaginary friends are born on a far away island where they wait to be imagined by a real child. One by one, all of his fellow imaginary friends are chosen by their child-- except Beekle. He waits and waits for his perfect partner, dreaming of all the fun activities they will do together... but no one comes for him. One day, tired of being the only little friend left on the island, Beekle does the unimaginable: he sets out in search of his new perfect partner on his own! Beekle travels to the real world where he experiences a bit of culture shock: the big city is nothing like the imaginary island he left behind. Beekle faces many challenges and set backs, all with the hope that he will one day find his new best friend.

What really stood out the first time I read this story were the beautiful and vibrant illustrations. These brightly-colored and delightful illustrations perfectly tell the story of Beekle's struggle to find his new best friend, and includes many small details within the bigger picture. Beekle's journey emphasizes going after what you want, being brave and taking risks. This is a heart-warming story about finding love and happiness. For other fun stories written or illustrated by Dan Santat, check out The Guild of Geniuses, The Three Ninja Pigs, and Oh No! or How My Science Project Destroyed the World

Telephone, by Mac Barnett

You know the hilarious game where you sit in a circle and whisper something to the person next to you, then they whisper it to the person next to them, and so on? And once the message gets passed to the the original person it is quite unlike the original message? It’s called telephone. You probably played it at a slumber party as a kid. The wonderful new picture book, Telephone, by superstar author Mac Barnett features something similar.

Several birds are sitting on a very long telephone wire. Momma bird says, “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner.” The message gets passed from bird to bird until it finally reaches Peter at the other end of the wire. You wouldn’t believe the silly message the birds keep incorrectly passing along the wire.

With beautiful illustrations by Jen Corace, this picture book is a winner and will put a smile on your face.

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