2012 Caldecott and Newbery Winners…

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Today was the day!  The winners of the big children’s book prizes were announced at the American Library Association meeting this morning.

Here’s the link to the ALA’s press release:


So  many great winners, but I was especially happy to see that Blackout, the picture book by John Rocco, was named a Caldecott Honor Book.  The Newbery winner, Jack Gantos’ Dead End in Norvelt, has just moved to the top of my to-read pile!

NPR’s All Things Considered featured a short interview with Chris Raschka, the winner of the Caldecott Award. If you want to listen, click here:



My Favorite Books of 2011


For the past fifteen years, I’ve written down every book I read. It’s just a list. No memorable quotations. No thumbs up or down. I write them down primarily because I have a bad memory and usually can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday. The list is incredibly helpful when people ask for recommendations, but the best part is looking back and seeing how many books I’ve read over the course of the year. I read fewer books per year when my son was young. When I was in graduate school, the list was impressive, but I was reading so fast that I’m not sure it’s fair to count some of them! Now, I’ve kind of leveled out at about 60 books per year. 

I just looked at the 2011 list which currently stands at 58. But…the next couple of weeks look promising. I expect to add a few more.  Below are the five best books I read this year. I don’t distinguish between books written for children or adults.  A good book is a good book. 

1. Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie by Lauren Redniss (a biography-in-collage of the famous husband and wife. It is simply one of the most stunning books I’ve ever read. I didn’t think I was interested in radium until I began reading Radioactive. A love story, a dual biography, a beautiful piece of art. I love this book.)

2. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (I was late getting to this one, but it was well worth the wait.)

3. You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon (interconnected stories about the lives of military wives at Fort Hood, Texas)

4. Drawing From Memory by Allen Say (the picture book author and illustrator uses photographs, comics, words, and drawings to tell his inspiring and moving story.)

5. Secrets at Sea by Richard Peck (I told you this would be included on every list for a while. Talking mice. Romance. Adventure. What else could you want?)

My favorite picture book of the year was Blackout by John Rocco. This brilliant book even made me wish for a – very temporary – power outage!

Blackout by John Rocco

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I wasn’t intending to post today. I was doing errands, walking our dog and visting a friend. But then I saw a stack of new Inly library books on my desk and decided to look at one of the picture books I’ve been most looking forward to – Blackout by John Rocco. The author, according to the back flap, lives in Brooklyn, New York where he and his family have “experienced their share of memorable summer blackouts.”

The book opens with pictures of 21st century family life. Everyone is too busy. The young daughter is hoping to find someone to play a board game with her, but you can see by the cell phones and computers that she should consider a game of solitaire. Until the lights go out and they can finally see the stars rather than the glow of their screens. This is the perfect family read aloud – preferably by candlelight – on a warm August night.