Bill Prosser is a teacher/librarian, new to the school library this year after many years in the classroom. He is LOVING the change. Here are his thoughtful picks for both the Newbery and the Caldecott:
Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson
I loved the plot of this book and the way the author reveals bits and pieces to you if you pay attention while you read. It was a book that I couldn’t put down and seemed to always be leaving you with a cliffhanger that brought you back. It has adventure, intrigue, hidden treasure, and mysterious bad guys. When I first began reading the book I thought it would be another single mom meets new husband that wants to be dad but can’t get along with the son story, but not even close. Great writing!
Greetings From Planet Earth by Barbara Kerley
I thought this book had an interesting hook to it. A science teacher gives the class the assignment to present Earth to alien life forms on a distant planet, much like the early satellite space probes did in the 70s. The author uses the assignment to take a 12 year old boy through some research, which leads him to discover some family secrets about his father’s return from Vietnam. The author does a great job of connecting all of the story lines and keeping the reader interested. It’s a great story of a family and how they deal with the “skeletons in the closet.” Well developed characters and plot.
Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis
The story of an extremely bright girl who struggles to fit in with her peers because of her intelligence. She tries to handle all middle school problems logically, but middle school is anything but logical. This leads to some bigger problems including bullying, and all the other things middle school girls are good at! I really liked the way the author presented the story through three different perspectives, the gifted student, the girl who just wants to please everyone and be popular, and the just plain mean girl who likes to control everything. It was easy to see students in all three characters.
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
I am not a big fan of fantasy, so if a story about dragons keeps me reading, it must be pretty good! This fantasy is more in the lines of an old fashioned fairy tale, only it has a heroine instead of a handsome prince saving the day. I liked it because of the simple fantasy story line, nothing really dark or “weird” involved. The author creates a world that is almost believable aside from the mythical dragons. It was easy to relate to and understand all of the characters in the book which made it a very enjoyable read.
Wind Flyers by Angela Johnson Illustrated by Loren Long
Both author and illustrator are from Ohio, which had a certain appeal to me, but besides that this is a beautiful book. The story of a boy who dreams of flying and becomes a Tuskegee Airman is moving. The pictures, some of them are views from the airplane, are brightly colored and really take the reader into the pages with the pilots.
First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Simple text highlights the paintings in this book. The pictures look like they are paint on canvas and all of the texture of the medium comes through. To set it all off, it is a “cut out” book, that is the pages have space cut out that appears as part of the next picture as you turn the page. Very clever and fun for younger readers.
Seventeen Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill Illustrated by Nancy Capenter
Very funny text is set off by the collage type illustrations. The artist uses actual things like notebook paper, a pillow, and carpet as the backgrounds, then the characters are drawn on top of it. The illustrations also include real things like staplers, glue, toys and others. Very fun to read and look at.
The Cheese by Margie Palatini illustrated by S. Johnson & L. Fancher
A twist on “The Farmer in the Dell” in which the characters try to answer the question of “Why does The Cheese stand alone?” Since they can’t answer it, they eat the cheese! The pictures are very colorful and detailed but the truly interesting part is how the illustrators incorporate words from the text into them. A reader can look several times at the pictures and see different things each time. The illustrators have another book called Casey Back at the Bat done in the same way, but I like the story of The Cheese better.